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Burnley have gone into the third international break of the season on the back of a 3-1 defeat against Arsenal at the Emirates, a fifth successive defeat in the Premier League which saw us remain next to bottom in the table.

I don’t suspect there was too much confidence among Burnley supporters for this one against a team who have been beaten just twice at home in the league since the start of last season, and while the result was as expected, the performance was in so many ways much better than some we have seen recently.

I travelled by coach and because of the restrictions around the Emirates, it meant a very early arrival before going into the stadium and into what should have been the away fans section. It was anything but with Arsenal fans and the odd tourist all around us and you have to question how on earth this has happened given that some Burnley fans were unable to get tickets and had to miss the game.

When we went to Hull in March this year, and won 3-1, Vincent Kompany named an unchanged starting eleven from the team that had beaten Wigan at home four days earlier. For the first time since, he named an unchanged team yesterday, the same eleven started who had done so against Palace last week.

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The changes came on the bench where goalkeeper Lawrence Vigouroux and Michael Obafemi were named for the first time in the Premier League; Vigouroux was standing in for Arijanet Muric who is on international duty while Obafemi is on his way back following hamstring surgery in the summer. There was also a return for Aaron Ramsey after injury. He has been out since coming on as a substitute for Josh Cullen in the home defeat against Chelsea five weeks earlier.

Arsenal were without Martin Ødegaard so I suppose that was a help, but they still had a very strong team out including summer signings David Raya, Declan Rice and Kai Havertz.

During the first half, or most of it, I’d suggest we coped quite well with the Arsenal threat. There were little pockets of pressure from them but we looked more compact, more organised and more defensively sound than in other games and those little pockets of pressure really were kept to a minimum.

They twice forced James Trafford into good saves. His first was to deny Bukayo Saka and then from Leandro Trossard, the second of which he superbly tipped onto the bar, but other than that we dealt with things well and we also had our moments at the other end which included probably the best opportunity of the first half.

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We’d had the first real goal attempt early in the game when Zeki Amdouni tested David Raya from around 25-yards, but when Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson broke clear on the half hour it did look as though we might get ourselves in front. His shot was close to Raya, possibly too close for the goalkeeper, but he did enough to keep it out.

That second save from Trafford came about when our Achilles heel number one surfaced not too long before half time, aka as giving the ball away. This time it was Josh Brownhill but it has happened far too often this season.

We’d done so well overall but just as we were awaiting the board to tell us how many added minutes there would be at the end of the half, we conceded. From a ball in from the left, Saka beat Jordan Beyer in the air. Trossard came in at the back post, getting round Dara O’Shea and managed to get the ball into the net as Trafford came across and appeared to bang his head on the post. The game was held up while Trossard received treatment but referee Michael Oliver clearly indicated that a goal had been given.

It was so unfortunate, to have done so well for so long and then succumbed like that right at the end was a real blow and you wondered just how we might react to it in the second half.

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We reacted well, very well in fact. In the very first minute of the half, Luca Koleosho got past William Saliba down our left but the Arsenal defender was able to get in a challenge at the expense of a corner.

It was a sign of what was to come in the ninth minute of the half. This time Koleosho got the better of Takehiro Tomiyasu and pulled the ball back for Jay Rodriguez. Gabriel got in to move it away from Jay Rod but only as far as Brownhill whose shot took the slightest of deflections on its way into the net for our equaliser.

As Burnley supporters celebrated, I was concerned that the goal might be ruled out for a foul by Koleosho on Tomiyasu; it wasn’t and rightly so. A further watch of the move shows clearly that Tomiyasu is actually pulling Koleosho’s shirt. I doubt we’d have got a penalty had we not scored but thankfully we didn’t need to rely on that.

Level at the Emirates although still a long time to go. We needed to stay level for as long as possible; unfortunately it wasn’t long. Just over three and a half minutes after Brownhill’s shot had crossed the line, Arsenal were back in front.

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Achilles heel number two it was this time to surface. Trafford saved a Gabriel Martinelli shot at the expense of a corner. Taken by Trossard on the left, he swung it in under the bar for Tomiyasu to head home. Trafford clearly should do better but we simply cannot defend set pieces.

To make matters worse, we only went and did it again a quarter of an hour later. Again Trossard took the corner; this time Dara O’Shea headed it against his own bar. It finally dropped for Oleksandr Zinchenko around fifteen yards out and he finished well.

It was all over by then. We weren’t going to come back from two goals down and we didn’t. The fear was that Arsenal might go on and add a couple more and make it look like a drubbing which it wasn’t. Thankfully they didn’t and the one incident of note came on 83 minutes when Fábio Vieira was sent off for a high, studs up challenge on Brownhill. From my vantage point, I have to say I was stunned when I saw the red card come out, but, having seen it again, there is no doubt that Michael Oliver, who had an excellent game, got the decision absolutely correct.

So a 3-1 loss, now thirty goals conceded in twelve Premier League games and only four points. With today’s results, that next to bottom referred to has become bottom with Sheffield United winning a point at Brighton.

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For much of the game though I thought we played better than we’ve played all season. We were up against one of the country’s best teams, of that there is no doubt, and we equipped ourselves very well. But the simple fact remains, we cannot continue to concede goals in the way we are doing and at the rate we are doing, or there will be no way back from this.

There were signs though yesterday, positive signs, that things can improve. They simply have to if we are to get away from the bottom three in this league.

There really are some positives though. Koleosho continues to look a threat and in my view Vitinho had his best game yet for us. Then there is Sander Berge who was for me our best player by some distance. He’s settled in well and we are now really reaping the benefit.

The teams were;

Arsenal: David Raya, Takehiro Tomiyasu, William Saliba, Gabriel, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Kai Havertz Fábio Vieira 59), Jorghino, Declan Rice, Bukayo Saka (Reiss Nelson 81), Leandro Trossard (Eddie Nketiah 81), Gabriel Martinelli (Jakub Kiwior 89). Subs not used: Aaron Ramsdale, Mohamed Elneny, Bradley Ibrahim, Charles Sagoe Jr, Reuell Walters.
Red Card: Fábio Vieira.

Burnley: James Trafford, Vitinho (Wilson Odobert 88), Dara O’Shea, Jordan Beyer, Charlie Taylor, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, Sander Berge, Josh Brownhill (Michael Obafemi 85), Luca Koleosho (Jacob Bruun Larsen 80), Zeki Amdouni (Aaron Ramsey 80), Jay Rodriguez. Subs not used: Lawrence Vigouroux, Connor Roberts, Hannes Delcroix, Josh Cullen, Nathan Redmond.
Yellow Card: Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson.

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).

Attendance: tbc

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