Burnley fans turned up but their team didn't

Last updated : 09 May 2018 By Dave Thornley

For Burnley supporters at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday there are two questions that need answering; who were that team in the light blue shirts? And what had they done with the real Burnley players?

Maybe it was the sense of “job done” after Europa League qualification had been confirmed mathematically the previous evening following Everton’s draw with Southampton.

Maybe Burnley allowed themselves to succumb to the emotion surrounding Arsene Wenger’s last home match in the Arsenal technical area, or maybe they were merely feeling the accumulated effects of the season’s long toil?

But whatever the reason, Burnley simply didn’t show up on Sunday.

Hemmingway would write about hapless and disoriented beasts being ruthlessly put to the sword for the enjoyment of the masses in the hot afternoon sun, that is what Sunday’s game felt like for Burnley fans.

It must be stated however, that even a fully fit, totally focused and firing Burnley team would have struggled to contain the rampant Gunners who exemplified a desire to put on a show for their departing boss and were quite simply magnificent.

Jack Wilshere and Alex Iwobi ran the show from midfield, their probing passes, plus the service from Hector Bellerin on the wing, provided Lacazette and Aubameyang with sumptuous offerings on which to feast.

But Burnley do not usually allow midfielders to pass through their defence, nor do they allow crosses to enter the penalty area.

The Clarets’ success this season has been built upon the strength of a strong defensive binding. This resolute defensive mindset was ruthlessly picked apart by the equally resolute determined Arsenal offensive.

In recent encounters with Arsenal, Burnley have been denied by injustices resulting from poor refereeing decisions. On Sunday there could be no such indignation. Burnley were beaten fair and square by a team who, on the day, were simply miles better.

There was a brief stirring early in the second half, when Johann Berg Gudmundsson found himself in a position to sling in a couple of crosses, but Arsenal’s third goal soon dispelled any fledgling notions of a revival.

Sadly, for the boisterous travelling contingent, the remainder of the game was for Burnley, an unsuccessful exercise in damage limitation.  

Incidentally, if I were Arsene Wenger, or any of the watching Arsenal supporters, I would be justified in asking why performances like that had not been seen more regularly from so obviously gifted a set of players?

It should be recalled that when the game kicked off, there were only three points separating the home team and the Clarets. By the final whistle, the gap seemed more like three divisions.

Burnley are not accustomed to being on the receiving end of such a mauling, it is not a pleasant feeling. But it should not be allowed to take too much of the gloss off a wonderful season for Burnley.

Europa League football coming to Turf Moor is now confirmed. Burnley fans have had the time to dream of forays into the unknown, but first let’s celebrate a truly great season when Bournemouth come to bring the curtain down this Sunday.