Aaron Ramsey allows Arsenal to edge Burnley battle
Arsenal (now 16/1 Premier League title second-favourites with Coral) closed to four points behind Chelsea, ahead of their London rivals’ derby at QPR and Manchester neighbours Man Utd and City meeting on Super Sunday, by punishing one Burnley mistake at Turf Moor.
Aaron Ramsey struck the winner inside 12 minutes to give the Gunners an eighth win on the spin, plus a 10-point cushion in the race for a top four finish. North London neighbours Tottenham were the last club to clash with Sean Dyche’s Clarets, but that televised encounter produced a drab and dour draw.
In truth, this battle was little better with the organised hosts doggedly denying clear cut openings. England national boss Roy Hodgson will have been disappointed to see Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger name all four of his fit Three Lions internationals; Calum Chambers, Kieran Gibbs, Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck on the bench.
Reports also surfaced in midweek that Jack Wilshere was ready to make a Gunners first-team return following yet another injury, but a scrap in east Lancashire was clearly not a fixture to bring this midfield all-rounder back into action.
Both Dyche and Wenger named unchanged line-ups, but it was Arsenal who profited from pinball in the Burnley box early on. Tom Heaton saved with his legs from Mesut Ozil, but the Clarets couldn’t then clear their lines and Wales midfielder Ramsey fired into the roof of the nets.
Hodgson could still cast an eye over a now out of form Danny Ings, one strike away from double figures, though it may have been Burnley right back Kieran Trippier that is on the England boss’ radar.
Colombia keeper and Gunners goalie David Ospina was at full stretch to tip away a free-kick from the former Manchester City youngster. Chances were at a high premium here, so this Trippier try could well stand out in Hodgson’s mind, especially with Kyle Walker and Nathaniel Clyne far from certain about squad spots.
Santi Cazorla went close from a dead ball before the break, while Ashley Barnes and Ings worked Ospina in the second half. Whatever the result in the Manchester derby, Arsenal are ultimately winners as at least one of City and United are guaranteed to lose ground on them.