Arsenal 3 Burnley 1: Theo Walcott puts his England misery behind him

07 March 2010 11:39
Off day: Nicklas Bendtner

Arsene Wenger felt Theo Walcott'sperformancewas the perfectriposte to critics and will be hopingNicklas Bendtner has a similar reaction to the flak he got for his display of woeful finishing.

It does not come tougher for a striker than having your failings mulled over by Alan Shearer and Gary Lineker.

But both legendary finishers could probably have got off the Match of the Day couch to convertthe chances Bendtner embarrassingly passed up against Burnley.

The Denmark striker should be thankful Wenger chose not to take a leaf out the Harry Redknapp guide to post-match interviews.

The Arsenal boss would have been well within his rights to claim the missus could have scored at least one of three sitters his striker fluffed.Bendtner was all smiles as he was withdrawn in the second half, presumably seeing the funny side of his off-day.

But, had Arsenal been up against a side other than one with the worst away record in the league, it could have been quite a differentstory.

The 22-year-old has until the end of the season to prove his manager was right not to buy a striker in January.

Making his mark: Cesc Fabregas puts Arsenal 1-0 ahead in the 34th minute, before being taken off with a hamstring injury

Walcott proved himself deadly serious about silencing his critics,having been accused of lacking a 'football brain' by Chris Waddle after a lacklustre display for England in midweek.

'I heard what has been going on and what he said,' admitted Walcott.

Watch me: Walcott made up for his late show with Arsenal's second

'But I don't listen to people on the outside of football.I listen to the boss, Mr Capello, my family and the peoplearound me.

'I will forget about this performance now and try to kick on and improve against Porto.'

After David Nugent's lob cancelledout Cesc Fabregas's exquisite finish to Samir Nasri's deft chip, Walcott decided to get things back on track.

Perhaps tired of Bendtner spurning his service, Walcott opted to goit alone, darting into the Burnley box for a left-foot shot into thebottom corner.He celebrated by running to the Arsenal bench pointing at an imaginarywatch.

'On Friday night I was late for the bus so I had to get a car to the team hotel,' explainedWalcott.

'That's why I was pointing to a watch. I got caught in traffic. I will probably get a fine but I'll take it!'

Andrey Arshavin also left it late to ensure Bendtner's profligacydid not affect the result, the Russia forward's clincher coming deepinto added time, from a run and shot similar to that of Walcott.

MATCH STATSArsenal (4-3-3): Almunia 6; Eboue 7, Silvestre 6, Vermaelen 7, Clichy 6; Fabregas7 (Diaby 39min, 7), Denilson 6, Nasri 8; Walcott 8, Bendtner 5 (Eduardo73, 5), Rosicky 7 (Arshavin 61, 6).

Burnley (4-5-1): Jensen 7; Mears 5, Carlisle 5, Cort 6, Fox 5;Paterson 6 (Thompson 73, 5), Cork 6, Alexander 5 (Bikey 65, 6),McDonald 5 (Elliott 53, 6), Eagles 6; Nugent 6. Booked: McDonald,Paterson, Carlisle, Elliott.

Man of the match: Samir Nasri.

Referee: Chris Foy.

Still, the direct nature of the goals from Walcott and Arshavin willhave pleased Arsenal fans, given their complaints aboutover-elaboration.

They were also glad Walcott shoved Daniel Fox right under hismanager's nose, after a committed but fair tackle by the Burnley leftback.While not complaining about Fox's challenge, Wenger was happy enough tosee Walcott show that side to his character.

'Theo is a fighter and his performanceshowed that,' said Wenger. 'A polite fighter!'

Nugent dismissed the incident with the slightly unfortunate comment that Walcott had simplygot 'aroused' by Fox's tackle although you got his point.

Nugent felt Burnley had at least given Arsenal something to think about via decent football rather than rough-house tactics.

'We know our away form isn't the best, and that our home form is keeping us in the league,' said Nugent.

'We need to look at the goals we're conceding, and the less we concede the better, as we might end up staying up on goal difference.'

Goal difference may yet prove pivotal at the top of the table, and if Bendtner's misses return to haunt Arsenal it will be no laughing matter.

 Arsenal winger Theo Walcott hopes Burnley strike signals change in 'most frustrating' season and silences critics Arsenal can win the Double! Arsene sets his sights on League and Euro gloryArsenal 3 Burnley 1: Theo Walcott edges Gunners closer to a shot at the titleI'll be back, insists horror-injury victim Aaron Ramsey, who snubs Shawcross


Source: Daily_Mail