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Match Reports

REPORT: Burnley 1 Arsenal 3

Clarets fightback falls short to end memorable season on losing note

12 May 2019

There was to be no grandstand finish in the Turf Moor sunshine as bogey team Arsenal denied the Clarets a fitting send-off.

But Sean Dyche’s men certainly didn’t go out with a whimper as they fought to the end of another landmark season.

Two second-half goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ultimately proved enough to extend the Gunners’ record as the only current side in the division not to be beaten by Burnley in the Premier League era as he earned himself a share of the league’s golden boot.

It’s 1974 since Arsenal last lost a league game to the Clarets, but once again they were pushed all the way as Burnley bossed the first half and then hit back with an Ashley Barnes goal to share the leading scorer honours with Chris Wood.

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Substitute Eddie Nketiah’s goal with the last kick of the game finally killed off hopes of a successful comeback as he confirmed a club record 10th home league defeat of the campaign for the Clarets.

But that doesn’t reflect the scale of Burnley’s achievements in dealing with a first European campaign in half a century before bouncing back to reach the 40-point mark and finish 15th in the table to record their second-best finish as a Premier League club.

Dyche’s side will play top-flight football for a fourth successive season in 2019-20 – the first time the club has managed four in a row since the start of the 1970s.

And in a season of personal triumphs, Ben Mee completed an ever-present record of playing every Premier League minute with another commanding performance against an Arsenal side still chasing honours in the competition where it all started for the Clarets back in July.

Any suggestion this might be played as a dead rubber was instantly dismissed in a pulsating opening which paved the way for a relentless first half.

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Despite their qualification for the Europa League final, which is still more than a fortnight away, Arsenal wheeled out most of their big guns, including top scorer Aubameyang.

The striker needed two goals at kick-off to equal pacesetter Mo Salah in the race for the golden boot and he could have drawn level inside the opening 10 minutes.

Aubameyang deflected a Henrikh Mkhitaryan free-kick against the bar with his shoulder after Tom Heaton had handled outside the penalty before the Clarets’ keeper - making his 200th appareance for the club - saved well by parrying away a fierce, angled drive from the Arsenal man.

But Burnley had early chances of their own, as Ashley Barnes headed wide from a Charlie Taylor cross and then saw an effort blocked by goalkeeper Bern Leno before Jack Cork headed wide from the rebound.

And the Clarets then dominated the remainder of the opening half as they over-powered the visitors with a performance full of passion and purpose.

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Barnes bizarrely went into the book despite being barged to the floor by Leno, whose goal came under threat from a succession of corners as Chris Wood and James Tarkowski both went close.

Wood then looked as they he had given the Clarets a deserved lead, but after running onto a ball over the top from Lowton, his low strike hit the inside of a post and bounced clear.

And Arsenal’s goal again led a charmed life when Barnes went clear down the right to deliver a low cross which brought a blocked effort from Cork and then a follow-up from the impressive Lowton, who was denied his first Premier League goal for the Clarets by Shkodran Mustafi’s intervention.

Arsenal had gone close in first-half stoppage time with a Joe Willock shot which he curled just wide on his first Premier League start.

But when they did go in front eight minutes into the second half it was against the run of play.

Frustratingly for the Clarets there could have been a free-kick given for a foul on Ashley Westwood, but the possession remained with Burnley and when Cork, who had been one of the stand-out performers, mis-cued a pass to Mee, Aubameyang was in.

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With just Heaton to beat, the Gabon international made no mistake with an assured finish to claim his 21st league goal of the campaign before Matteo Guendouzi was booked for trying to goad both Barnes and Cork by way of celebration.

That put Aubameyang within touching distance of Sala and 11 minutes later he was level with the Liverpool man and back ahead of Sadio Mane and Sergio Aguero, who had both scored as the title race continued to go to the wire.

This time, the goal came from a stunning volley from Alex Iwobi’s chipped pass which might have left the Clarets out for the count.

But Burnley’s fighting spirit is beyond question and two minutes later they struck back as Barnes finally got his reward.

Substitute Johann Berg Gudmundsson, who along with Robbie Brady had dropped out the starting line-up following the defeat at Everton, forced Leno to make a sharp save.

Jeff Hendrick lifted the ball back in and although Wood couldn’t get a decisive touch, Gudmundsson retrieved the situation and picked out Barnes to glance in a header which gave him his 12th Premier League goal and 13th in all.

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It was frantic stuff and a remarkable miss from Aubameyang at the other end, spurning a hat-trick as he steered a Mkhitaryan cross wide from inside the six-yard box, kept things in the balance as Peter Crouch replaced Wood with a quarter of an hour to go.

Crouch had scored on the final day of a Premier League season on six previous occasions, including in his last two campaigns.

And he almost did it again with a shot on the turn which Leno beat away after Barnes had hooked the ball back into the danger area.

The Clarets gave everything to try and force a leveler but with the last kick of the season their hopes were dashed when Nketiah somehow squeezed home his side’s third goal as the Londoners wrapped up a fifth-place finish.

Burnley: Heaton; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Hendrick (Brady 82), Westwood, Cork, McNeil (Gudmundsson 64); Barnes, Wood (Crouch 77). Substitutes: Hart, Hart, Ward, Vydra, Long.

Booked: Heaton, Barnes, Tarkowski, Lowton, Cork

Arsenal: Leno; Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Mavropanos (Koscielny 35), Monreal; Elneny, Guendouzi; Mkhitaryan, Willock (Nketiah 62), Iwobi; Aubameyang. Substitutes: Cech, Lacazette, Maitland-Niles, Kolasinac, Xhaka.

Booked: Guendouzi

Referee: Mike Dean

Attendance: 21,461

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