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By Fab4.

Arsenal's theo walcott

Arsenal made hard work of Burnley today and failed to get the 4-0 win they needed to go top of the league, although Nicklas Bendtner could have scored enough on his own to take home two match balls. He missed a series of great opportunities before Arshavin made the game secure in the final minute. But it was the performance of Theo Walcott that will catch they eye, he was unplayable for most of the game.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger made four changes from the side that beat Stoke last week. Rosicky replaced the injured Ramsey, Silvestre came in for Campbell, and Sagna and Song made way for Walcott and Denilson.

Arsenal came flying out of the blocks and probably should have taken the lead on the third minute. Nasri sent a lovely ball over the top which found Bendtner in the clear, but he took too long to set himself and Paterson got back and made a great tackle. From the resulting corner Rosicky fired narrowly wide with a great volley.

Burnley showed they were a threat at the other end when Carlisle got free at a corner but sent his header straight at Almunia.

Theo Walcott was looking dangerous down the right and made a couple of runs but nobody was on hand to finish his cut backs. Again the best of Arsenal’s stuff was down the right, this time a one-two between Fabregas and Eboue but the Captain couldn’t find the target from a tight angle.

The linesman wasn’t having a good day so far, he made a couple of poor off-side decisions to deny Nasri and Bendtner opportunities through on goal. Burnley’s best efforts were from long-range that didn’t really test Almunia.

Just after the half hour mark Arsenal began to turn the screw and a superb flowing move cut Burnley open, Eboue’s dangerous cross found Bendtner but Jensen got out well to deny the big Dane. Seconds later Arsenal opened the scoring. Nasri’s looping ball over the top from the edge of the box found Fabregas who cooly slotted home between Jensens legs. Great goal.

1-0 Fabregas (33)

Minutes later another flowing move should have seen Arsenal go 2-up but Bendtner couldn’t finish off from an Eboue cut back. The Gunners were playing some great stuff, but it hasn’t been Bendtners day so far.

Fabregas has pulled up with a hamstring injury, it doesn’t look too serious but he is replaced by Diaby and looks to be a doubt for Tuesday’s game against Porto now.

Half time and Arsenal should really be out of sight by now, but as it’s only 1-0 Burnley will feel they are still in the game.

Arsenal should have doubled their lead in the first minute of the second half. Walcott sent in a superb cross straight on Bendtners head but he somehow missed the target from 6 yards out. It got even worse for the big Dane when Walcott did well to keep a deep Clichy cross alive, his cut back found Bendtner unmarked 6 yards out in the centre of goal but he blazed over. Unbelievable.

Theo then got bored of his good work going to waste so decided to go it alone, but his drive from the edge of the area was too high.

A completely one-sided game was turned on its head when Burnley grabbed an equaliser they hardly deserved. Eboue’s poor clearance was headed back in by Carlisle, Suddenly Nugent was clear and he lobbed Almunia from 10 yards. Arsenal should have been 5-up but were somehow level.

1-1 Nugent (50)

Arsenal responded well and should have taken the lead, more good work down the right from Walcott and his cut-back again found Bendtner who once again failed to finish. It was getting funny now.

Nasri sends Walcott clear and the England winger gets a powerful shot off but Jensen does well to tip it round the post. All Arsenals good work is going through Walcott, he is clearly out to prove the doubters wrong.

He certainly went someway to doing it as he scored a great goal to give Arsenal a deserved lead. For the first time in the match he cuts inside and curls the ball into the bottom corner with his left foot. Superb stuff from Theo and just what his performance deserved.

2-1 Walcott (60)

This is getting silly now, MORE good work down the right from Walcott, again he cuts back but this time its Arshavin who blazes over from close range. Arsenal just can’t seem to put this game to bed.

Amazingly it gets worse for Bendtner. Eboue bursts forward and passes out wide to Walcott, his cross finds Bendtner free in the box but he drags his shot wide from 6 yards with just the keeper to beat. The crowd and laughing but it wont be so funny if Burnley nick and equalizer! He could and should be taking home TWO match balls today! Instead he is taken off to great applause, most of which is probably out of sympathy for him, not his day but at least he tried.

Burnley are having a lot of the ball now and Thomson blazes over from a corner. A warning for Arsenal there. Arshavin sends a good opportunity wide, then has a good chance blocked by Jensen. But in the final minute, the little Russian gets the third to secure the three points for the Gunners. He cuts in from the right and beats Jensen at his near post with a powerful finish. Game over.

3-1 Arshavin (90 +4)

Player Ratings:

Almnia – 6 – Didn’t have much to do and not a lot he could have done for their goal

Clichy – 6 – Steady enough and sent in some better crosses today

Eboue – 7 – Some good work going forward

Vermaelen – 7 – Rock at the back again

Silvestre – 6 – Made me nervous a couple of times but did ok

Denilson – 6 – Kept us ticking over without doing much of note.

Fabregas – 7 – Great goal before going off injured

Nasri – 8 – Fine display today, good movement and always on the ball

Rosicky – 7 – Some neat touches and looked dangerous

Walcott – 9- Superb today from Theo, especially the second half. Great goal as well.

Bendtner – 5 – What can i say, just not his day. Couldn’t finish his diner.


Diaby – 6 – Some nice work without ever really stamping his authority on the game.

Arshavin – 7 – Great finish for his goal

Eduardo – 6 – Not a lot of time, did well for the third goal

So Arsene Wengers men go joint top with Chelsea having a game in hand. Although Manchester United could go clear if they beat Wolves this evening. Wenger and Arsenal fans will be extremely happy with Walcott’s performance, he produced several great final balls that have been lacking lately and scored a superb goal. My MOM without question.

The worry will be Bendtner’s poor finishing. It was almost unbelievable at times. No lie, he could have scored six easily today. It turned out ok in the end as we won 3-1, but if that was against tougher opposition they would make us pay for his misses. He was been in decent goal-scoring form of late so i’ll give him a break, but he needs to improve on Tuesday if we are to beat Porto.

Well that’s one down and nine to go. Let’s hope Wolves can do us a favour and beat United in the 5.30 K.O.


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