Arsene Wenger accepted he was lucky to celebrate 20 years in charge of Arsenal with a Premier League victory after Laurent Koscielny’s controversial stoppage-time winner sank Burnley 1-0 at Turf Moor.
Wenger, officially appointed Arsenal boss 20 years and one day ago, looked set to mark his anniversary in frustrating fashion as the Gunners mis-fired in the face of some gallant Burnley defending.
Sean Dyche’s side had gone closest to breaking the deadlock in the second half when Michael Keane’s towering header hit the crossbar, but in the third minute of added time Arsenal skipper Koscielny snatched the winner with what appeared to be his elbow.
“I didn’t see the ball going in, but I’ve been told yes, that we were a bit fortunate to have the goal,” Wenger said.
Koscielny was lurking at the back post and was hit by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s close-range effort after Theo Walcott had headed on Alexis Sanchez’s ball in following a short corner.
There was also a hint of offside with both Oxlade-Chamberlain and Koscielny standing close to the goalline.
“I must say, you feel disappointed if you’re in Burnley’s shoes because they gave absolutely everything and you can understand they will be a bit gutted to lose like that because they put all the effort in to get a result,” Wenger said.
Victory, Arsenal’s seventh in eight games in all competitions and their fifth straight Premier League success, lifted Wenger’s side up to third in the table and closed the gap on leaders Manchester City to two points.
“It’s a big win because City lost and we were five points behind and when you’re five points behind a top-quality team, when you have an opportunity to get a bit closer you cannot miss it,” Wenger said.
“That would have been the negative aspect of our game today had we not won.”
Sanchez, Walcott, Mesut Ozil and Alex Iwobi had all been guilty of dithering when well-placed in Burnley’s penalty area, while Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s header was turned away at full stretch by Petr Cech and Keane headed Gudmundsson’s 75th-minute corner against the crossbar, although replays appeared to show the keeper got his hand to it.
“We got a bit lucky,” Wenger added. “We were a bit fortunate to win the game, but you can only have a chance to win if you keep going.
“It was the kind of game you could have won 1-0 and you could have lost 1-0.”