Arsenal’s Premier League struggles continued on Sunday as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Burnley, who could easily have snatched all three points at Turf Moor.
The Gunners had won their last 11 meetings with Burnley in all competitions but Mikel Arteta’s men did not do nearly enough to extend that run as they again failed to make up significant ground on the top four.
Although Arsenal spurned presentable chances of their own, they could consider themselves a little fortunate to pick up a point as Jay Rodriguez somehow contrived to hit the underside of the bar from five yards out with 12 minutes remaining, the ball coming down on the goalline.
Both teams remain on 31 points, 10 adrift of the top four and seven above the bottom three.
An unmarked Alexandre Lacazette headed wastefully off-target from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s cross as Arsenal started brightly, before the latter latched on to David Luiz’s lofted ball over the top, only to screw a shot hopelessly wide of the near post.
Burnley were grateful for a superb last-ditch tackle from James Tarkowski on Lacazette when the forward looked set to score, but the hosts soon grew into the game as Arsenal’s threat faded.
Either side of Nick Pope staying big to deny Aubameyang, Rodriguez’s low 25-yarder tested Bernd Leno while the impressive Dwight McNeil and Jeff Hendrick each went close.
Burnley certainly carried the greater threat early in the second half, Tarkowski and Ben Mee both threatening from set-pieces prior to Jeff Hendrick heading a McNeil cross narrowly past Leno’s right-hand post.
Aubameyang sent a header inches past the post from Lacazette’s left-wing delivery in a rare moment of second-half danger for the hosts, but it was Burnley who came closest to a winner, Rodriguez failing to convert McNeil’s knock-down when it looked easier to score.
Burnley (4-4-2): Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Hendrick, Cork, Westwood, McNeil; Wood, Rodriguez
Substitutes not used: Brady, Hart, Pieters, Lennon, Bardsley, Vydra, Long
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Leno; Bellerin, Mustafi, Luiz, Saka (Torreira 45); Guendouzi, Xhaka; Aubameyang, Ozil (Willock 63), Martinelli; Lacazette (Nketiah 89)
Substitutes not used: Papastathopoulos, Ceballos, Pepe, Martinez
Bookings: Ozil, Xhaka, Torreira
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
There was no real excuse for a failure to exert their obvious advantage, this a team appearing to be more capable of governing matches at their own pace.
Arteta’s issue is that has not as yet translated to proper 90-minute performances and, once James Tarkowski’s courageous last-ditch defending prevented Lacazette a certain goal, Burnley began to sniff a result.
Bernd Leno’s goal was living somewhat of a charmed life by half-time, Jeff Hendrick striking wide when Dwight McNeil’s cross dribbled right across the box.
That chance was manufactured by Ben Mee’s pass through the lines – the sort of ball Arteta preaches his central defenders to perfect – and the Burnley captain himself headed over shortly after.
Luiz inadvertently blocked a Chris Wood header, while Mee nodded another wide. Leno sprawled to divert Jay Rodriguez’s fizz away from danger.
It is often lazy to simply suggest Burnley make things difficult by adopting the most old-fashioned of values but, once they had awoken from an early slump, there was an unashamed defiance to the way in which Arsenal wanted to play.
The away fans briefly chorused something about ‘anti-football’. Tarkowski’s heroic defending, stopping Lacazette in his tracks eight yards out, came with an ugly-looking shove when the striker lay on the ground. Suddenly, Arsenal were given far less time to impose themselves.
That undoubtedly agitated those in yellow. Mesut Ozil was booked for dissent, slamming the ball into an advertising hoarding after fouling Mee. Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira were both cautioned for stopping Burnley’s full backs gallivanting forward.
And so the big moments kept coming for the hosts. Mee and Rodriguez both missed the target from set pieces. Hendrick wasted the best of the lot when he headed McNeil’s cross back where it came from and wide.
A speculative long-range effort from substitute Torreira, straight down Nick Pope’s throat, was as good as it got for Arsenal until Aubameyang again failed to find the target, diving to head Lacazette’s cross wide late on.
The one true chance fell to Rodriguez with 11 minutes left, McNeil’s knock down bouncing favourably and the striker plundering on to Leno’s bar. It clattered down on the line agonisingly and Arsenal escaped.