An 11th hour penalty from Alexis Sanchez bagged Arsenal a crucial 1-0 victory over Burnley at Turf Moor, as the North Londoners moved back into fourth place, above Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea.
Arsenal looked braced for a 0-0 draw after a difficult afternoon away from home before salvaging maximum points after a foul on Aaron Ramsey inside the box in the dying moments of the game, leaving Sanchez to convert decisively from the spot.
With results in and around the Premier League top four going Arsenal’s way, there was the chance for either the Gunners or today’s opponents, Burnley, to move into the UEFA Champions League spots with a win at Turf Moor.
Arsène Wenger and his team would have to try their luck without Mesut Özil, however, who would miss today’s away trip through illness and make way for Alex Iwobi in the starting line-up.
The hosts would look to pose an immediate threat to Arsenal in the early stages, as they looked impose themselves in the early stages of the game.
Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson came close to giving the Clarets the much-wanted lead in the 16th minute, turning Nacho Monreal inside the box before firing at Petr Čech’s goal, with the Arsenal shot-stopper deflecting the effort onto the post.
The North Londoners could do little to avert Burnley’s aggressive inclination of the game but may well have found their refuge in the 19th minute when Alexander Lacazette was able to turn Jack Tarkowski and set Ramsey up for the volley inside the box, later skied by the Welshman on the bounce.
Nacho Monreal eyed up a goal from range when a partially-cleared ball fell invitingly for him on the edge of the box, with the Spaniard striking his shot dangerously wide.
At the other end, Robbie Brady was forcing Čech into another important save from a well-hit free-kick in the 40th minute, as both sides carried a 0-0 draw into half-time.
Arsenal gained a greater grasp of control coming into the second period, with the Clarets repelling the visitors’ attack with a handful of important interventions.
As the Gunners looked for some much-needed guile in the final third, Burnley were on hand to try their luck once more through Guðmundsson on the break, with Čech saving the Icelandic midfielder’s low drive from outside of the box in the 58th minute.
Wenger turned to Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere for some inspiration off the bench and the latter almost found it with ten minutes to go, poking a troublesome effort goalwards that would be deflected just wide by Tarkowski.
With it proving difficult to break Sean Dyche’s outfit down, Arsenal picked up the golden ticket to do so when a nudge in the back of Ramsey by Tarkowski earned the visitors a 91st minute penalty, much to the disappointment from the home end.
Alexis Sanchez claimed responsibility from the 12-yard-mark and made no mistake, clinching all three points for the Gunners at the death with a 1-0 victory.
By Patrick Ribeiro
Petr Čech (7) – Laurent Koscielny (6), Shkodran Mustafi (5), Nacho Monreal (5) – Héctor Bellerín (5), Granit Xhaka (5), Aaron Ramsey (5),Sead Kolašinac (4) – Alex Iwobi (5), Alexis Sanchez (5) – Alexandre Lacazette (5)
Subs: Jack Wilshere (5), Danny Welbeck (5)