Arsene Wenger will be a happy man.
Through to the Fifth-Round of the FA Cup with no need of a replay, and with a squad that has real competition for places, the Gunners Boss can look to their next game Vs Southampton with real optimism.
This 2-1 win didn’t merely signify progression to the next stage. It was also the moment that midfield lynchpin Francis Coquelin returned to the side after more than two months out. Couple that with Tomas Rosicky named on the bench and the centre of midfield is looking far healthier than it did a few games ago.
Calum Chambers, David Ospina, Kieran Gibbs, Alex Iwobi and Alexis came into the side and with a Premier League fixture only three days away, rotation was a must.
Mohamed Elneny also slotted into the team to make his debut, and he was busy from the start as Arsenal started well.
The Egyptian was industrious and motored from box to box effectively, leaving a rusty Coquelin with the job of cleaning up Burnley’s attacks. It was a partnership that showed some early signs of promise.
Alexis in particular seemed hungry for possession, and with his hiatus from the pitch, the playing-mad Chilean seemed eager to touch the ball and affect proceedings.
The first goal was down to Sanchez and the impressive Iwobi. Iwobi slipped the ball to Sanchez just outside the box, and with a wall of Burnley players, seemed short of options.
It was an unlikely outlet who offered Alexis a choice. Chambers, with no touch, took a couple of steps back and fizzed in a first time effort with the outside of his right boot. He will never score a better goal!
Burnley weren’t happy to just make up the numbers, and Gray highlighted on a couple of occasions how dangerous he could be.
In fact, It was only Ospina who stopped him scoring before Chambers’s effort, after he robbed Koscielny.
Eleven minutes later, it was indeed level. Burnley had a spot of possession and were prying around the Gunners box. Kieran Gibbs was at his impetuous best and attempted to block a pass that never came, which also saw him career into the back of Coquelin. Then, a ball from the right was fired in and Sam Vokes got the better of Gabriel and headed past Ospina.
On a whole, the partnership between Gabriel and Koscielny needs a fair bit of work, though it should be noted that this can only come from winning games. At this current moment in time however, Mertesacker and his pedestrian pace offer a far more reliable option.
The second half saw Burnley attempt to catch Arsenal cold, and they had a couple of opportunities to test a team that was showing a few signs that some of their players were clearly returning from injury.
Arsenal gave them approximately eight minutes, and then whilst Burnley attacked, the Gunners broke with intent.
Five different players were involved in the lightning quick build-up, which culminated in Oxlade-Chamberlain cutting back in the box. The ball came off a defender, but Alexis didn’t break stride and absolutely smashed a first time shot high into the net.
From there, Arsenal should have wrapped it up, but profligate finishing saw them fail to extend their narrow lead. Burnley never really threatened that much though, so Wenger consolidated and safeguarded with substitutes.
Mikel Arteta replaced Coquelin, Theo Walcott came on for an impressive Sanchez and to a huge cheer from the home faithful, Tomas Rosicky finally returned to the fray to replace Alex Iwobi.
A header from Koscielny was the highlight of the rest of the game, but all importantly, when the referee blew for full time, Arsenal were still in the hat to win three consecutive FA Cups.
After a poor run of form in the league, the sight of Coquelin and Sanchez fully fit is enough to make any Gooner rejoice. The League remains the priority, and with our club fighting on three fronts, the fact that only two players from our squad are currently unavailable will be a huge factor as Arsene attempts to have a successful season.