Arsenal were denied victory by the woodwork, some heroic Burnley defending and the video assistant referee amid a dramatic late onslaught as Granit Xhaka’s error ultimately cost the Gunners dear.
After Xhaka’s errant pass struck Chris Wood for a bizarre equaliser to cancel out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s opener, Arsenal piled on relentless pressure in the closing stages.
The Gunners thought they had been awarded a penalty against Erik Pieters but the spot-kick and the defender’s red card for deliberate handball were overturned by VAR after replays showed he had diverted Nicolas Pepe’s shot onto the bar with his shoulder.
That was not the end of the late drama as Ben Mee’s block denied Aubameyang a sure-fire winner in stoppage time before Calum Chambers crashed an effort against the post in his first league start for 14 months.
Ultimately, however, the blame for the dropped points will be laid at the door of Xhaka, who was sent off in the Gunners’ December defeat by Burnley and had another day to forget against the Clarets.
Receiving a short pass facing his own goal from keeper Bernd Leno, he tried to clip a square ball to David Luiz across the penalty area but succeeded only in hitting Wood in the midriff and the ball bounced into an empty net for the softest of levellers.
Buoyed by the unexpected gift, Burnley controlled a scrappy second half before Arsenal’s late siege but Leno first produced a fine save to keep out Erik Pieters’ dipping 30-yard volley, and then used his leg to deny Wood in a one-on-one.
A fifth successive home draw inches 15th-placed Burnley seven points clear of the Premier League bottom three, while Arsenal remain 10th, their hopes of a late push for European qualification hindered by two dropped points.
A tale of two handballs
While VAR reached the correct decision in reversing Andre Marriner’s call to penalise and dismiss Pieters, Arsenal will have felt the technology should earlier have been used in their favour against the same player.
Pieters’ arm appeared to have been outstretched when he handled Nicolas Pepe’s cross midway through the second half but VAR official Kevin Friend saw no reason to bring the incident to Marriner’s attention.
“If the first one is not a penalty honestly someone has to come to the training ground and explain what a handball is. It cannot be any clearer,” said frustrated Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta.”We hit the bar and the post, they cleared the ball off the line but they defend those situations well – and it is down to us not getting the three points.”
Xhaka far from Arsenal’s only culprit, even though the scale of his error outweighed the Gunners’ other individual failings.
He has made more errors, eight, leading to goals than any other outfield Premier League player since the start of 2016-17 and few, if any, will have been as glaring as his ill-judged and ill-executed miscue here.
But Arsenal should have been further ahead by that stage, Bukayo Saka guilty of prodding wide when clean through on Nick Pope, while Aubameyang also hooked wide after a mistake by Matthew Lowton.
The Gabon striker had fooled Lowton with a stepover in the build-up to giving Arsenal an early lead, his shot squeezing under the glove of Pope at his near post in front of watching England boss Gareth Southgate.
Arsenal’s most glaring miss, however, came from Pepe who completely missed his kick, unmarked eight yards out, from Kieran Tierney’s second-half cross before Aubameyang and the returning Chambers were both unlucky in time added on.
Hectic half-hour for Pieters
It would take some players a month to experience the sort of excitement Pieters managed to cram into half an hour, after coming on as a 63rd-minute replacement for the injured Charlie Taylor.
The handball shouts he survived – one correctly, the other far more up for debate – were drama enough, but in-between the former Netherlands defender unleashed a superb first-time volley that had Leno desperately backpedalling to tip over.
Pieters’ positioning to, legally, divert Pepe’s effort onto the woodwork was typical of a host of last-ditch defensive efforts from Burnley’s back-line as the visitors threw the proverbial kitchen sink at them in the dying moments.
Chief among those was Mee flinging himself in front of Aubameyang’s goal-bound strike when it seemed sure the Arsenal striker would register a fourth double, and ninth goal, in only seven appearances against the Clarets.
While they were left clinging on for a point, Burnley could conceivably have collected all three, had Leno not smartly stuck out a leg to deny Wood after a classy exchange of passes with Matej Vydra.
Instead, given the proceedings of the final few minutes, they were content with another draw to widen the gap to the relegation zone to seven points, although 18th-placed Fulham do have a game in hand.
- 3TaylorSubstituted forPietersat 63′minutesBooked at 71mins
- 7GudmundssonSubstituted forBradyat 68′minutes
- 27VydraSubstituted forRodriguezat 86′minutes
- 23David Luiz
- 18ParteySubstituted forCeballosat 80′minutes
- 7SakaBooked at 55mins
- 11ØdegaardSubstituted forLacazetteat 63′minutes
- 12WillianSubstituted forPépéat 69′minutes
- Andre Marriner
Match ends, Burnley 1, Arsenal 1.
Second Half ends, Burnley 1, Arsenal 1.
Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Matthew Lowton.
Attempt blocked. Pablo Marí (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Dani Ceballos (Arsenal) hits the right post with a right footed shot from the centre of the box.
Attempt missed. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right.
Attempt blocked. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Foul by Calum Chambers (Arsenal).
Erik Pieters (Burnley) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Hand ball by Jay Rodriguez (Burnley).
Foul by Nicolas Pépé (Arsenal).
Dwight McNeil (Burnley) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Hand ball by Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal).
Attempt missed. Jay Rodriguez (Burnley) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the left.
Offside, Arsenal. Kieran Tierney tries a through ball, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is caught offside.
Substitution, Burnley. Jay Rodriguez replaces Matej Vydra.
VAR Decision: No Penalty Arsenal.
Attempt blocked. Nicolas Pépé (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Bukayo Saka with a cross.
Attempt missed. Nicolas Pépé (Arsenal) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Kieran Tierney with a cross.
Substitution, Arsenal. Dani Ceballos replaces Thomas Partey.