Arsenal beat Burnley in FA Cup fourth round as Alex Iwobi, Alexis impress
Arsenal went through to the fifth round of the FA Cup on Saturday afternoon with a 2-1 win over Burnley, fielding a side with nine changes from the one that lost to Chelsea.
There was a debut for Mohamed Elneny, Francois Coquelin returned from injury and Alexis Sanchez made his first start since November as Arsene Wenger shuffled his pack. Despite that, Arsenal played some beautifully cohesive football in the first half in particular, and the build-up to the opening goal was a fantastic example of that. Keeping the ball moving simply, they finished it in much more intricate fashion when Alexis nutmegged a defender to feed Calum Chambers, and the young right-back's finish with the outside of his foot was superb.
The fact that Arsenal have kept just three clean sheets in their last 10 games at home meant there was always going to be a chance for the visitors, and poor defending allowed them to get level on the half-hour mark through Sam Vokes. Thankfully, the winner came not long into the second period. Again it featured excellent build-up from the Gunners, with Oxlade-Chamberlain pulling back a cross that Alexis thumped home to move his goal tally for the season into double figures.
Arsenal never really turned the screw but with players getting some valuable minutes under their belt, it was a day full of positives for Arsene Wenger's men.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK David Ospina, 6 -- Perhaps a little flat-footed for the goal. Arsenal have become used to Petr Cech dominating his area as the Colombian prefers to stay on his line more often.
DF Calum Chambers, 6.5 -- His goal was absolutely outstanding, a wonderfully curled finish with the outside of his foot. Found wanting a touch on the Burnley equaliser but considering how little he's played this season, he can happy with his day's work.
DF Gabriel, 6 -- Out-jumped for the goal, and Burnley's forwards won rather too many headers against him today.
DF Laurent Koscielny, 6 -- Caught out a couple of times, there's a shakiness to him at the moment that isn't something you usually associate with him. Ended the game in a crumpled heap in the Arsenal box -- hopefully it's nothing too serious.
DF Kieran Gibbs, 6.5 -- Showed some nice attacking verve in the first half but there was one odd moment in the build-up to the Burnley goal when he slid and tackled his own player (Coquelin). Had a solid game overall.
MF Francis Coquelin, 6.5 -- He got 70 minutes under his belt a month ahead of schedule, almost unprecedented from an Arsenal point of view. Looked a bit rusty in general but those minutes will do him good.
MF Mohamed Elneny, 7 -- A solid debut for the Egyptian international who looked adventurous going forward and generally tidy on the ball. He will have to get used to the physical side of English football -- a couple of times he was muscled off it a bit easily -- but that will come in time.
MF Alex Iwobi, 7.5 -- It's a measure of how much Arsene Wenger thinks of him that he played him centrally rather than out wide. The youngster showed some lovely touches and vision -- he's a genuine prospect.
MF Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 7 -- He had chances to score that he didn't make the most of and it really feels as if he could do with a goal. He did get an assist to his name and his performance today was a little step forward from recent weeks.
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MF Alexis Sanchez, 7.5 -- Industrious, exciting, determined, and he got what turned out to be the winning goal. He's a player who makes a difference, and today was evidence again of that.
FW Olivier Giroud, 6.5 -- Played his part in the move for the second goal, but didn't really threaten himself. Probably broke the record for most unsuccessful back-heels in a single game.
MF Tomas Rosicky, N/R -- Nice to see him make his first appearance of the season, being back on the pitch will be a big boost.
MF Mikel Arteta, N/R -- The captain kept things moving very well, using the ball cleverly and helping Arsenal stay on top of the game.
MF Theo Walcott, N/R -- Like Oxlade-Chamberlain, he could really do with a goal for his confidence and did miss a fantastic chance late on. With just the keeper to beat, he hesitated and allowed the Burnley stopper to get the ball away.
Andrew Mangan is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter: @arseblog.