BURNLEY, United Kingdom (AFP) - Arsenal edged to their eighth successive Premier League victory by beating Burnley 1-0 on Saturday, with Aaron Ramsey's first-half goal moving them to within four points of leaders Chelsea.
Wales midfielder Ramsey struck in the 12th minute as Arsene Wenger's team did just about enough to see off their relegation-threatened hosts at Turf Moor.
Arsenal are the form team in the country and have now won eight league games in succession for the first time since they romped unbeaten to the title in the 2003-04 'Invincibles' season.
The north London club had blown Liverpool away 4-1 with some sumptuous football at the Emirates Stadium seven days earlier, but this was a victory of a different nature.
After getting their noses in front, Arsenal rarely threatened to carve the hosts open and had their fair share of defending to do.
Nevertheless, their winning run has not only served to ensure that they are likely to record an 18th consecutive top-four finish, but it has seen Wenger's team emerge as Chelsea's closest rivals for the title.
They have not finished as high as second for 10 years and while Chelsea have played two fewer games, the encounter between the sides at the Emirates on April 26 could have a significant bearing on the title race.
Confidence is clearly high among Wenger's squad and it took them just over 11 minutes to establish a lead.
The movement of Arsenal's four attacking midfielders had caused Burnley problems from the start and a poor pass out of defence by home captain Jason Schackell was punished.
Alexis Sanchez had a shot blocked before Mesut Ozil's effort was well saved by Tom Heaton, but Burnley could not clear the danger.
ACROBATIC INGS EFFORT
Ramsey applied the finish, high into the net from close range, for his ninth Arsenal goal of the season.
Burnley have enjoyed some of their best results of the season against the Premier League's elite, taking four points from fixtures against Manchester City, drawing with Chelsea and holding Tottenham Hotspur a week ago.
They responded well to falling behind, managing to disrupt Arsenal's passing patterns, and the visitors never really hit their stride.
David Ospina was called into action to save at the feet of Sam Vokes and the Arsenal goalkeeper was also forced to make a save from Kieran Trippier's curling free-kick.
Ashley Barnes hooked an effort towards goal that Ospina had to claim as Burnley maintained their relentless work rate in the second half.
At the other end, Sanchez forced a smart save from Heaton with a low drive from 20 yards and Ramsey saw a fierce first-time shot bravely blocked by Ben Mee following Ozil's brilliant lobbed pass.
Moments later, Mee nutmegged Hector Bellerin and delivered a low cross that narrowly evaded his team-mates, but it was enough to enliven the home crowd.
Burnley top scorer Danny Ings had seen very little of the ball, but he tested Ospina with an acrobatic effort after Scott Arfield lifted the ball into the area from Vokes's knockdown.
It was as close as Burnley came and while they never really looked like grabbing a leveller, the suspense for Arsenal's fans endured until the final whistle.