Alexis Sanchez scored the winner as Arsenal beat Burnley 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday to advance to the fifth round of the FA Cup. The holders and winners of the last two tournaments still have the chance to become the first team to win three straight Cups since Blackburn Rovers in the 1880s.
Still, manager Arsene Wenger's side made hard work of it, actually going in at half-time at one apiece after Sam Vokes answered Calum Chambers' classy opener for the Gunners.
Wenger handed a start to new boy Mohamed Elneny in a squad featuring nine changes. Youngster Alex Iwobi was included, while talisman forward Sanchez started his first game since November.
The club tweeted the starting XI, along with a strong bench, featuring the returning Tomas Rosicky:
Burnley gaffer Sean Dyche left veteran midfielder Joey Barton on the bench but did include the dangerous strike partnership of Vokes and the in-form Andre Gray. The Clarets reported the starting lineup:
It was Gray who posed a threat early on, engineering two promising chances. For the second, he forced a mistake from Gunners centre-back Laurent Koscielny but found his shot rebuffed by Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina.
Arsenal answered with a nice combination between stand-in full-backs Kieran Gibbs and Chambers. The former teed up the latter, who blasted a fierce shot from distance that was well-blocked.
Chambers soon made amends when he was played in by Sanchez. The ex-Southampton man curled the ball around Burnley stopper Tom Heaton.
As Arsenal's official site pointed out, Chambers is used to punishing this opposition:
In typical fashion, the Gunners dominated possession against the Championship outfit, as BBC Match of the Day noted:
Wenger's men passed the ball with confidence and pace, a far cry from their recent stunted form in the Premier League, where the title-chasing Gunners have taken just two points from the last nine available.
Arsenal were also committing plenty of bodies in attack. In particular, new signing Elneny (35) wasn't shy about getting forward, as this Opta chart provided by the club's official site revealed:
But against the run of play, Burnley actually hit back when Vokes stole a march on his markers to head in a corner.
The goal was yet another sign of Arsenal's alarming fragility at the back in their own stadium, a problem detailed by Squawka:
Arsenal have now kept just 2 clean sheets in their last 7 home games across all competitions. pic.twitter.com/uglCKCMNbw— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 30, 2016
Half-time came with the Gunners far from comfortable against Dyche's plucky visitors.
Clearly still buoyed by their equaliser, the Clarets began brightly after the break, with Gray releasing Scott Arfield, who forced Opsina to save. It was a miss Dyche and his players would soon rue.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got into a great position on the flank and, for once, produced a smart cutback that Sanchez put away for Arsenal's winner.
Martin Hayes of the team's official site praised the quality of how the Gunners broke to score:
Sensing the tide turning, Dyche introduced Barton for David Jones in midfield. Burnley were still posing some threat, with Vokes in particular producing a lively display.
Wenger followed Dyche's lead and made some changes of his own, swapping Francis Coquelin for Mikel Arteta and bringing Rosicky on for Iwobi.
A whipped free-kick from Sanchez nearly settled the tie, but Heaton reacted well. But there were problems at the other end when Koscielny was yellow-carded after using his hand to thwart an attempted through pass for Gray. The latter's pace caused Koscielny plenty of problems, with the Frenchman nervy throughout.
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Sanchez soon gave way to Theo Walcott, while the away side took Vokes off for Rouwen Hennings and brought Michael Kightly on for George Boyd with 10 minutes remaining.
Gray provided a late scare when he shot barely wide from close range just before stoppage time. At the other end, Elneny and Walcott both came close, with the latter only denied by a splendid save from the impressive Heaton.
Wenger was full of praise for new boy Elneny, lauding the Egyptian midfielder's energy:
The Arsenal chief was also pleased with how Sanchez and the returning Coquelin dealt with the game after injuries:
Boss on Coquelin: "Today he looked quite comfortable, with no problems." #AFCvBFC— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 30, 2016
Dyche was happy with his team's tactical application against their Premier League hosts, feeling his players imposed themselves at the Emirates, according to BBC Sport:
We gave a better account of ourselves than in the premier League game here last year. Back then we tactically gave them too much respect but today was more about us. We wanted to mix our play and make them uncomfortable, and we did that.
Wenger will be delighted to see Sanchez back and in scoring form after two months out nursing a hamstring injury. His return will provide a major fillip for the club's pursuit of silverware.
Regaining strength is the theme of the day for the Gunners, with Coquelin's performance another welcome sight. The vital defensive midfielder will have a key role to play during the remainder of the season.
As for Burnley, Dyche will likely take heart from the committed display as the Clarets continue their pursuit of a playoff berth.