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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's Goal Seals Arsenal Win vs. Burnley in 2019 EPL Match

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistAugust 17, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 17: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal scores his teams second goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Burnley FC at Emirates Stadium on August 17, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images)
Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

Arsenal made it two wins from two to start the 2019/20 Premier League season by beating Burnley 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck a second-half winner on a day when former Chelsea centre-back David Luiz made his debut for the Gunners, while Real Madrid loanee Dani Ceballos impressed on his maiden start in England's top flight.

Alexandre Lacazette put Arsenal in front early, but the in-form Ashley Barnes drew Burnley level before the break by netting his third goal in two matches.

Arsenal needed just 13 minutes to go in front, with Ceballos at the heart of the goal. He was impressing with some astute distribution between the midfield and forward lines, and the Spaniard took a more direct approach by dropping a corner into the box that Lacazette eventually put in on the turn.

It was a neat finish from a striker going to ground at the time:

NBC Sports Soccer @NBCSportsSoccer

Arsenal strike first! Alexander Lacazette makes it happen in front of goal 🙌 Watch the match now on NBCSN, or stream here: short.url/aBcXyZ https://t.co/VMnZzApnyE

Burnley were behind but still posing a threat thanks to their own intelligent use of set pieces. The Clarets' favourite tactic was to aim for James Tarkowski at the back post, and the centre-back's headers across the box were causing problems for Arsenal's reshuffled back line.

It didn't help there were nerves in defensive areas for the hosts, with Luiz typically taking a few risks most defenders wouldn't consider:

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Arsenal fans getting the full David Luiz experience just four minutes into his debut 😳😅 https://t.co/bkjpCEIXpt

Arsenal's attempts to build attacks from the back were being stymied by a committed and high press from the visitors:

JJ Bull @jj_bull

Burnley keeping Arsenal penned in for a lot of this so far but seems like that suits Arsenal’s very fast lads up top. Dani Ceballos is pretty tidy btw. Burnley do not like him https://t.co/fpvjKo5Z2V

The Clarets were rewarded for their endeavour two minutes before the break when a smart and swift counter ended with Barnes prodding in from close range. His scoring run is a testament to his improvement each season in England's top flight.

Burnley's goal was also a sobering reminder of the frailties Arsenal still possess at the back. The arrival of Luiz had so far done little to stabilise things.

Perhaps more worrying was how stunted the Gunners looked in the final third. Lacazette's return to the starting XI saw Aubameyang moved out wide. The lack of involvement of last season's top scorer made the decision to shift such a prolific striker on to the right wing all the more baffling.

Michael Caley @MC_of_A

Burnley outshot Arsenal 9-8 in the first half

Arsenal needed some inspiration, and club-record signing Pepe was called from the bench to provide it. He entered at the expense of Reiss Nelson and immediately took Aubameyang's place on the right, with the striker moving over to the inside left.

Pepe combined brilliantly with Aubameyang, playing the latter in just before the hour mark, only for Nick Pope to make an excellent save to block the striker's shot. The implication was clear, though: Aubameyang was getting into central areas more often and posing a greater threat.

Pope was called on again when Ceballos whipped a shot goalwards, but the Clarets' stopper clawed it away.

Burnley's resilience couldn't last, and fittingly it was Aubameyang who finally broke it when he cut in from the left to arrow a low drive past Pope. For Aubameyang, it was yet one more reminder of the clinical instincts he's brought to the Arsenal forward line since arriving in January 2018.

bet365 @bet365

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has played 51 Premier League games for Arsenal. He's been directly involved in 43 goals. World class. #afc https://t.co/j6iwHf8DVl

Going in front prompted Unai Emery to change Arsenal's shape. The head coach brought on Sead Kolasinac ahead of left-back Nacho Monreal and moved Aubameyang and Pepe central in a 4-4-2 shape.

Arsenal held firm after the reshuffle and might have added more goals, but Pepe and Aubameyang fluffed their lines more than once on the break.

Even so, the Gunners' key players had delivered enough in big moments to see off a capable Burnley side set for easier fixtures and talented enough to avoid another scrap against relegation this season.

Arsenal have got over the line in two matches this season, thanks more to fine individual performances than a solid collective game. Yet winning is a happy habit, and this squad has enough firepower to worry Liverpool on Merseyside on August 24.

                 

What's Next?

Arsenal are set to face Liverpool at Anfield, where they have lost by four goals in each of the past two seasons. Meanwhile, Burnley are away to Wolverhampton Wanderers on August 25.