Sanchez fires FA Cup holders Arsenal past Burnley
Defending FA Cup champions Arsenal eased into the fifth round Saturday afternoon at the Emirates, seeing off second-division side Burnley 2-1. Arsenal, who have not lost in this competition for nearly three years, await their next opponent in Sunday’s draw. That draw will be streamed live on FOXSoccer.com via FOXSportsGO at 1:10 PM ET.
The Gunners unexpectedly fielded a weakened lineup, giving Mohamed Elneny his first game since his arrival from FC Basel, and a first start as well to Alex Iwobi. Calum Chambers and keeper David Ospina also made starts as Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey, among others, made way. But there were welcome returns for Francis Coquelin and Alexis Sanchez, two key players for the Gunners who had missed significant time with injury.
Burnley only made two changes to the side that crushed Derby 4-1 in midweek. The Clarets have been able to get goals from everywhere in the Championship of late, and they nearly opened the scoring in the tenth minute when Laurent Koscielny slipped, allowing Andre Gray a clean run at backup Ospina in the nets. Ospina, who had endured a torrent of criticism for his poor play in this year’s Champions League, came up good today, making a critical early stop and putting together a decent string of saves.
But overall, it was the defending champs who had the game by the bit for a good half hour, and while their largely makeshift side at times looked ragged today, their overall quality shone through even when not playing particularly well. Arsenal took the lead in the 19th minute when Iwobi, an emerging young talent, found himself in space inside the Burnley penalty area and put a nice square ball to Sanchez, who chipped a finely- weighted ball through three defenders to the waiting Chambers, and the defender hit a fine ball across the face of Tom Heaton’s goal and in at the top corner.
It seemed as if Arsenal were going to see the game out from there, but another Koscielny gaffe allowed Burnley a lifeline. The ball was not completely cleared off a routine play, and Koscielny went to ground, allowing the ball to fall to Tendayi Darikwa out wide right. He hung up a fine cross that Sam Vokes headed home to level matters up.
Arsenal looked a little rattled after the goal, but got the game back under control shortly after the break, with Sanchez scoring through Heaton. Iwobi stormed down the field after Burnley’s Scott Arfield coughed the ball up, and found Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out wide right. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s return cross was poor, but Sanchez reached back, wheeled and then fired to the near post to beat the keeper.
Arsenal then nearly passed their lead off a routine corner, with Arfield the hero clearing the ball off the goal line. Heaton also made a fine stop in the 71st off a Sanchez free-kick, diving to keep the ball out at his near top corner. Heaton then made a fine stop on sub Theo Walcott off a clean break in stoppage time.
Elneny enjoyed a decent debut, with two clear-cut chances at goal, but was unable to find the back of the net.