Arsenal returned to winning ways with a 3-1 victory over Burnley at the Emirates on Saturday, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring two goals for the Gunners.
Aubameyang gave Arsenal a seemingly safe 2-0 lead with his fifth double of the season in all competitions, before Ashley Barnes gave the visitors hope by pulling one back in the 63rd minute. But substitute Alex Iwobi made the game safe for the Gunners in injury time.
This was exactly the kind of result Arsenal needed to kick off the festive period as they put back-to-back losses behind them. Mesut Ozil also showed that he still has a big role to play in this side as he was directly involved in two of the goals after being restored to the starting line-up by Unai Emery. And for the first time in the Premier League this season, Arsenal went into halftime with the lead!
Arsenal's defensive injuries continue to pile up as Nacho Monreal had to limp off in the first half, and the Gunners' instability at the back is a major concern going into this busy period of the season.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Emery not only put Ozil back in the team but made him captain as well. Whatever mind games he is trying to play with the midfielder, he better hope they work, as Ozil showed again that he is by far the biggest creative force in the squad. However, it's hard to understand why Emery preferred Mohamed Elneny over Aaron Ramsey in this formation.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Bernd Leno, 6 -- Showed bravery when leaving his area to play the sweeper-keeper and patrolled his area well. Can't be blamed for the goal and didn't really have another save to make.
DF Sokratis Papastathopoulos, 8 -- He has just the right amount of nasty to get under opponents' skin without stepping over the line, and popped up with a couple of vital clearances in the box when Burnley threatened.
DF Nacho Monreal, 6 -- Aside from an early Burnley counter, the Spaniard didn't have much to do before going off injured in the 37th minute. Arsenal will hope it's nothing serious as they really can't afford to be without him during the festive season.
MF Mohamed Elneny, 5 -- Deployed in a surprisingly attack-minded role in his first Premier League start of the season, playing higher up the pitch than Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi for much of the game. But he was only rarely involved in the attack as his teammates mainly looked for other options to pass to.
MF Ainsley Maitland-Niles, 6 -- Started at right-back ahead of Stephan Lichtsteiner and had a much-improved performance from the midweek defeat to Spurs. Used his speed to great effect defensively but still needs to find a way to contribute more to the attack.
MF Granit Xhaka, 5 -- Was playing well in his normal midfield role until Monreal's injury forced him to move back in defence again. Should have cleared the ball before Burnley's goal and still doesn't look comfortable as a centre-back.
MF Matteo Guendouzi, 5 -- Didn't seem to find a natural role in this midfield but started the counter that led to the second goal by sending Kolasinac racing down the flank with a perfectly weighted ball over the top. Needs to start controlling these types of games more, though.
Aubameyang: Arsenal never stopped fighting
Sokratis discusses his defensive display versus Burnley, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang recaps his two-goal effort.
MF Sead Kolasinac, 8 -- Heavily involved in the first two goals and his raids down the left are becoming an increasingly important part of Arsenal's attack. Still has his doubters defensively but used his physicality to great effect when chasing down Burnley's attackers.
FW Mesut Ozil, 7 -- Showed why his creativity is still sorely needed in this side by delivering the kind of ball only he can find in the build-up to the opening goal, and set up the second with a great run into the box. But was also muscled off the ball way too easily and seemed to shirk away from some challenges, highlighting why Emery wants more from the playmaker.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 7 -- Aubameyang's scoring is like London buses: This was his fifth double of the season as he kept up his quest for the Golden Boot. A typical poacher's performance as he took the only two real chances he was presented with.
FW Alexandre Lacazette, 6 -- Great movement throughout but seemed to get frustrated with his teammates when they didn't pick him out with the right pass, and couldn't quite get his feet sorted out when he did get the ball in the box. Visibly angry when taken off.
DF Stephan Lichtsteiner 6 -- Had to come on for Monreal and looked solid in the back three, although he also could have done better in the lead-up to Barnes' goal.
MF Lucas Torreira, 5 -- Was on the bench because of a slight cold and was a bit unlucky when he failed to clear the ball before Burnley scored. But helped Arsenal shut up shop after that.
DF Alex Iwobi, NR -- Finally showed an end product with his first goal since August and gave the team a much-needed spark off the bench. Might be better used as a sub than a starter in the future.