Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the winner as Arsenal defeated Burnley to record successive victories at the start of a Premier League campaign for the first time since 2009. French striker Alexandre Lacazette marked his return from injury as he impressively held off Erik Pieters and shot between the legs of goalkeeper Nick Pope to put the Gunners ahead after 13 minutes. Ashley Barnes levelled the match two minutes before half-time, converting at close range from Dwight McNeil’s deflected pass for his third goal in two matches. The hosts, who handed full debuts to £8m defender David Luiz and Real Madrid loanee Dani Ceballos, saw an immediate response ruled out for offside after Reiss Nelson appeared to have completed a slick passing move with a confident finish into the roof of the net.
But the impressive 23-year-old Ceballos recovered possession to set up Aubameyang for a powerful, low finish with 64 minutes played. Burnley goalkeeper Pope made a series of fine saves to keep the Clarets alive, but he was unable to prevent his side losing a 10th straight league meeting with the Gunners. Three points away to Newcastle – along with a valuable clean-sheet – marked a pleasing start for manager Unai Emery following some exciting summer transfer business. Another victory in their first home match was made all the more enjoyable for the home support by the enthralling performance of midfielder Ceballos, on loan from the Bernabeu for the 2019-20 campaign. The Spaniard, unable to impress in his substitute appearance at Newcastle, oozed class in the centre of the pitch and delivered dancing runs through the Burnley midfield with sharp feet and twisting dribbles. His whipped corner paved the way for Lacazette’s opener, the Frenchman doing well to turn and shoot under pressure, while the 23-year-old celebrated passionately as Aubameyang converted from his tireless recovery work.
Likewise, youngsters Nelson, Joe Willock and Matteo Guendouzi impressed in successive starts, while £72m summer signing Nicolas Pepe emerged from the bench after the interval to add further promise for the season ahead. However, with Luiz yet to settle into the back-line, Arsenal’s defensive frailties were apparent as Barnes and Chris Wood caused awkward moments from set-pieces. An almighty scrap in the Arsenal penalty area following a first-half Burnley corner offered a timely reminder of the questions that remain – though Luiz appeared, for the most part, calm and composed when in possession. Arsenal are showing promise as the season warms up and, though old worries remain, back-to-back opening wins and a dazzling Ceballos display will keep Emery smiling.