Alexis Sanchez keeps his cool to convert 98th minute penalty winner
Alexis Sanchez converted a penalty in the eighth minute of injury time to give Arsenal 2-1 victory over Burnley, at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon.
The Gunners endured a frustrating first half against Sean Dyche’s well organised and committed team.
Sanchez was Arsenal’s chief threat forcing saves from the Clarets’ keeper Tom Heaton, as well shooting narrowly wide of the post after cutting inside.
Arsenal persistence was rewarded in the 58th minute, with Shkodran Mustafi rising highest to head in his first Gunners goal – from a Mesut Ozil corner.
It seemed that breakthrough would pave the way for a comfortable Arsenal win.
Those thoughts soon disappeared when the Gunners were reduced to 10 men after a Granit Xhaka challenge on Steven Defour.
Referee Jon Moss decided, after consulting with his linesman, that the challenge was reckless and Xhaka was shown a straight red card
It was Xhaka’s second red card at the Emirates Stadium this season and his ninth in three seasons.
The decision changed the pattern of the match with Burnley now enjoying more possession, and Arsenal content to get men behind the ball and play on the counter.
Dean Marney injured himself in bringing down Ozil in the 73rd minute, and after lengthy treatment was both booked and stretchered off.
It led to seven minutes of injury time, with Burnley equalising in the second of them.
Moss adjudging that Ashley Barnes had been fouled inside the penalty area by substitute Francis Coquelin.
Boyhood Arsenal fan Andre Gray converted the spot-kick. He coolly chipped the ball into the middle of the goal, with Petr Cech gets a touch on it but not enough to keep it out of the net.
It seemed that goal would deny Arsenal a win, but there was yet more drama to come.
Arsene Wenger was sent off for protesting the decision too vehemently on the touchline.
Just when it seemed Arsenal would drop two points, Ben Mee was penalised by Moss for a high foot on Laurent Koscielny in the penalty area. Replays suggest Koscielny may have been fractionally offside before Mee made his challange.
Sanchez kept his cool with a chipped penalty into the middle of the goal, as Heaton dived to his right.
It was the Chilean’s 15th Premier League goal of the season.
Arsenal’s fifth consecutive Premier League victory at Emirates Stadium lifts them into second place above Liverpool and Tottenham, who both dropped points yesterday.
The Gunners though remain eight points behind leaders Chelsea, who beat Hull City 2-0 at Stamford Bridge in the last fixture of this weekend’s round of fixtures.
The result also means Burnley’s dismal away record this season continues, with only one point from a possible 30 on the road.
The fall-out from the match might take some time to be resolved too.
Jon Moss’s officiating will come under scrutiny after showing a red card and awarding two controversial penalties.
Xhaka’s dismissal was his fifth in the league since the start of last season (Three in the Bundesliga and two in the Premier League) – more than any other player in Europe’s top five divisions – He was also sent off by Moss against Swansea at the Emirates Stadium in October.
The Swiss midfielder is now set to be banned for the next four matches, including the Premier League match at Chelsea on 4 February.
Arsene Wenger will also have to wait to see whether the FA will take any further action after his dismissal.
Arsenal: Cech 6, Gabriel 6, Mustafi 7, Koscielny 7, Monreal 6, Xhaka 5, Ramsey 6, Iwobi 6 (Coquelin), Ozil 6 (Bellerin), Giroud 6 (Welbeck), Sanchez 8