Alexis Sanchez scored a 98th-minute penalty as 10-man Arsenal recovered from conceding in injury time to claim a thrilling win over Burnley at Emirates Stadium. The Gunners’ title chances appeared to have been derailed as substitute Francis Coquelin fouled Ashley Barnes in the 93rd minute and Andre Gray converted from the spot to level after Shkodran Mustafi’s header had finally broken Burnley’s resistance. But, after Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was sent to the stands for protesting referee Jon Moss’ decision, Ben Mee was then penalised for a high foot on Laurent Koscielny in the Burnley area, and Sanchez deceived Clarets keeper Tom Heaton with a Panenka-style penalty.
The hosts had dominated for most of the game until Granit Xhaka’s second dismissal of the season for a reckless two-footed lunge on Steven Defour, from which Burnley profited, only for Sanchez to claim all three points in impudent fashion. Arsenal’s fifth consecutive league victory at home lifts them above Liverpool and Tottenham, who both dropped points on Saturday, but they remain eight points behind leaders Chelsea, who beat Hull 2-0 on Sunday. The result also means Burnley’s dismal away record this season continues, with Sean Dyche’s side having collected only one point from a possible 30 on the road. Heading into the seven minutes of added time, it appeared Arsenal had done enough to repel Burnley despite going down to 10 men, only for Coquelin to make a rash tackle on Barnes, with Moss showing no hesitation in awarding the penalty. Wenger protested and was sent to the stands but it was a clear trip and Gray converted, despite Petr Cech getting a firm hand on his shot.
Burnley boss Dyche was similarly aggrieved moments later as Moss penalised Mee for a high foot on Koscielny, who appeared to be offside when the free-kick was flighted in to the back post, but once that was missed, a penalty was a fair result for the challenge. Sanchez, who had earlier curled two efforts narrowly over either side of the interval, had one last moment of panache left, coolly chipping his effort straight down the middle as Heaton dived to his right, securing a vital win. An entertaining, if slightly routine, game had its complexion changed on 65 minutes when Xhaka’s needless challenge on Defour saw him sent off by referee Moss after consultation with the linesman. The 24-year-old’s dismissal was his fifth in the league since the start of last season – more than any other player in Europe’s top five divisions – and his second of this campaign, having also been sent off by Moss against Swansea in October. His ninth red card in three seasons could have an adverse effect on Arsenal’s title hopes with the midfielder now banned for the next four matches, including a crucial Premier League match at Chelsea on 4 February. Prior to his reckless tackle, Xhaka displayed his impressive range of passing, releasing the likes of Mesut Ozil and Sanchez from deep and showing why he will be missed.
Xhaka’s red also sparked an ill-disciplined end to the game for Arsenal, with Mustafi booked for dissent and Wenger also sent off for a futile protest against Burnley’s penalty, for which he later apologised. “I didn’t see any penalty from outside but I should have shut up and I apologise, even if I was frustrated,” said the Arsenal boss once tensions had cooled. Sanchez’s late winner provided a sickening end note for Dyche – who was taking charge of his 200th Burnley game – after he had appeared to get his tactics just right for long periods of the game. Despite not electing to use a five-man midfield to try and match Arsenal, his side were disciplined in staying behind the ball to force the hosts into attempting increasingly elaborate ways of opening them up, while the pace of Gray kept Mustafi and Koscielny honest on the break. The nature of Arsenal’s opener will therefore irk Dyche, as Mustafi was easily able to free himself of the Burnley defence’s attention to apply a simple finish to Ozil’s corner, with no-one stationed on the back post. With Arsenal down to 10 men, Dyche sent on Joey Barton and Sam Vokes and though Cech was rarely called into action, they applied enough pressure to induce a mistake as Gray scored the equaliser Burnley perhaps deserved.