Alexis Sanchez scored on his first start since November as Arsenal kept their dream of a third straight FA Cup alive with a 2-1 victory against Championship side Burnley at the Emirates Stadium, Sky Sports reports. The Gunners’ opener came from an unlikely source as Calum Chambers put his side ahead on 19 minutes with a superb curling effort before Sam Vokes powered a header past David Ospina to bring the visitors level.
Sanchez, who returned to Arsenal’s starting line-up alongside Francis Coquelin, restored the home side’s lead in the 53rd minute as the holders held on to book their spot in Monday’s fifth round draw.
Arsene Wenger’s side have now gone 14 games unbeaten in the FA Cup as they look to defend the trophy they have won for the past two seasons. Burnley, who sit third in the Championship, will turn their attention back to their bid for promotion to the Premier League.
Arsenal made nine changes from the side that lost 1-0 to Chelsea last weekend with Mohamed Elneny coming in for his debut and Sanchez and Coquelin returning to the starting line-up following long injury lay-offs. And Wenger’s men were handed an early warning when Vokes’ knock down found Gray inside the box, but the striker could not hit the target with his shot.
The hosts responded through the lively Sanchez, who cut inside on his right foot before firing just wide of Tom Heaton’s near post. Arsenal were given another fright in the 11th minute when Gray robbed Laurent Koscielny of the ball before running through on goal, but Ospina stood firm to make a smart block.
Despite Burnley’s excellent start it was Arsenal who broke the deadlock in the 19th minute when Sanchez found Chambers, who had a shot blocked minutes earlier, inside the box, and the full-back curled a stunning effort beyond the dive of Heaton and into the far corner. However, Burnley responded just before the break when Vokes rose highest to power Tendayi Darikwa’s inch-perfect cross past Ospina.
After the break, it was Burnley who created the first clear-cut chance with Scott Arfield racing away from Gabriel, before firing a shot straight at Ospina. Minutes later and the visitors were punished as Arsenal broke on the counter-attack, moving the ball at pace as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain pulled the ball back for Sanchez, who smashed the ball past Heaton from close range to score his side’s 50th FA Cup goal at the Emirates.
Burnley were not giving up without a fight and they could have been back on level terms in the 64th minute when Koscielny got to George Boyd’s cross ahead of Vokes. With both sides in action in midweek, both managers started to make changes with Tomas Rosicky introduced for the hosts for his first appearance of the season.
Sean Dyche brought on Joey Barton to a chorus of boos as Burnley looked for a way back into the match and it nearly paid dividends as Gray raced away from Gabriel only to fire his shot into the side netting. Arsenal had a flurry of late chances as Elneny voilleyed wide and substitute Theo Walcott, who replaced Sanchez with just over 10 minutes to go, fluffed his lines as he went through one-on-one with Heaton.
But the Gunners were not made to pay as they held on to book their place in Monday’s fifth round draw.