Arsenal 2 Burnley 1Sean Dyche’s 200th game in charge of Burnley ended in the most dramatic of defeats as Arsenal scored the second of two injury-time penalties to kill off the Clarets in the cruelest of fashions.
Dyche looked as though he would be able to celebrate with a precious point to double Burnley’s tally away from home as his side continued their improvement away from Turf Moor with another gutsy performance capped by Andre Gray's 93rd-minute spot-kick.
Gray’s sixth goal of the season against the club he supported as a boy cancelled out Shkodran Mustafi's first goal for Arsenal as the Gunners were left hanging on after Granit Xhaka’s second-half dismissal.
But Burnley’s late fightback eventually came to nothing as, for the second time this season, Arsenal grabbed the points in controversial style with virtually the last touch of the game as Alexis Sanchez scored his own penalty to secure the win that lifted the Gunners to second place in the Premier League.
Sanchez slotted home his 17th goal of the campaign after Ben Mee was penalised for a last-gasp challenge on Laurent Koscielny in a fevered finish at the Emirates Stadium.
But with Koscielny getting the verdict after standing in an off-side position, the wound cut even deeper for the Clarets, who slipped to 13th in the table.
Perhaps fittingly for his latest landmark, Dyche was able to stick with a winning formula as he selected the same side that started last Saturday’s Premier League victory over Southampton.
With Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Scott Arfield not ready to return, there was also no change to the substitutes’ bench as the Clarets went in pursuit of a first away league win.
The scale of the task was underlined by Arsenal’s record at the Emirates where they hadn’t lost since the opening game of the season.
And with the Gunners seeking a fifth successive home league win, manager Arsene Wenger also said ‘same again’ as he named the side that had won 4-0 at Swansea in their last outing.
Eyeing the chance to move above Liverpool and Tottenham and within sight of Chelsea at the top of the table, Wenger’s side inevitably played with the purpose and confidence of potential title challengers.
Their slick passing and movement around the penalty area made it an early test of concentration for the Clarets on the occasions they were forced to defend deep and in numbers.
But it was an examination they came through impressively with Tom Heaton’s only save of the opening half hour a diving effort low to his right to keep out a curling 30-yarder from Mesut Ozil before the
Clarets’ skipper made a more routine stop to hold a shot from top scorer Sanchez, who then curled an effort just wide moments before the break.
The Clarets saw their share of possession dwindle as the opening half went on.
But they had caused the Gunners’ problems when they moved the ball well themselves, the visitors’ best moments coming when Gray – who stretched the Arsenal afternoon with his pace - threatened on the break and Dean Marney played in Ashley Barnes to unleash a fierce drive that Petr Cech was happy to push round a post at full stretch.
Sanchez looked Arsenal’s most likely source of a goal to break the deadlock and five minutes into the second half the Chilean went close again, cutting in to send a right-footed shot just over the bar as the Gunners counter-attacked at pace.
It was desperate stuff at times but the Clarets defended heroically until they were finally breached with an hour gone.
It had been a corner which led to Arsenal’s injury-time winner at Turf Moor in early October and that proved to be the way through again for Wenger’s side.
Mustafi had never scored for the Gunners but the defender got enough of a head on a corner from Ozil to steer the ball across goal and inside the far post as the Clarets’ resistance was broken in frustrating fashion.
That left Burnley 30 minutes to try and find a way back into the game and for 25 of those they played against 10 men after Xhkaka was sent off.
The Swiss international had been dismissed twice previously this season for club and country and made it an unwanted hat-trick when he dived into a challenge on Steven Defour and was shown a straight red card by referee Jon Moss following consultation with one of his assistants.
Defour looked to hand out his own punishment with a long-range free-kick which Cech palmed over the crossbar but the Clarets were dealt a blow of their own when Marney was stretchered off following a challenge on Ozil which brought the former Tottenham man a yellow card.
That brought the introduction of Sam Vokes from the bench and with an extra aerial threat the Clarets began to pile on the pressure in search of a late leveller.
Inevitably that meant gaps at the back and Heaton had to save from substitute Francis Coquelin as the game approached seven minutes of added time.
Mee also made a superb tackle to stop substitute Danny Welbeck bursting through on goal and the value of that was underlined when the Clarets forced the equaliser.
Dyche’s men had peppered the penalty area in the closing stages and their persistence paid off when Barnes powered his way into the box, Coquelin waved a leg and made contact with the shins of the Burnley striker.
Gray powered the spot-kick up the middle to make it 1-1 but just when the Clarets looked as though they had earned a point it was snatched from them in the last minute in a repeat of how the first meeting between the two clubs had unfolded at Turf Moor.
That day Koscielny bundled home the winner beyond the end of the allocated added time and the defender was again the central figure as he stooped to meet a Sanchez cross as Mee stretched out a boot to try and clear.
Having got the verdict from referee Jon Moss, who moments before had sent a protesting Wenger away from the dug-out, Sanchez kept his cool to beat Heaton from the spot.
And despite again pushing one of the Premier League heavyweights right to the limit, the Clarets were once more left with no reward on the road.
Burnley: Heaton, Lowton, Keane, Mee, Ward, Boyd, Marney (Tarkowski, Defour (Vokes 77), Hendrick (Barton 73), Barnes, Gray. Substitutes: Robinson, Flanagan, Kightly, Darikwa.
Booked: Lowton, Marney.
Arsenal: Cech, Gabriel, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil (Bellerin 89), Iwobi (Coquelin 69), Sanchez, Giroud (Wellbeck 87). Substitutes: Ospina, Gibbs, Perez, Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Sent off: Xhaka.
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Attendance: 59,995 (1,446)