ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
LONDON • In the end, two familiar faces settled Arsenal's 2-1 Premier League win over Burnley at the Emirates Stadium yesterday.
But, while the strike duo of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang secured a second victory of the season for the Gunners, it was the performance of new boy Dani Ceballos that had the home fans licking their lips.
The Real Madrid loanee received a standing ovation when he was replaced by Lucas Torreira with seven minutes to play after a brilliant display that hinted Arsenal could have secured one of the bargains of the summer.
Along with David Luiz - the £8 million (S$13.45 million) signing from Chelsea - Ceballos was making his full debut against opponents who have now lost 11 matches in a row against the north Londoners.
Yet for all their flowing attacking play, which often began at the feet of Ceballos, there was always a sneaking suspicion that Arsenal remained vulnerable at the back.
When Ashley Barnes equalised on the stroke of half-time, it was tempting to think these issues would undermine them yet again.
But a dominant second-half display, capped by Aubameyang's ninth goal in his last seven games, was the least that they deserved.
"We can be happy. Our idea, our game plan on the pitch was knowing it was going to be tough because we need to adapt," said coach Unai Emery. "We won in our moments, we did the difference for 2-1.
Arsenal have won their first two matches of a Premier League season for the first time since 2009-10.
"A lot of moments we couldn't impose our game plan because they pushed and their game plan was a struggle for us. But I think with some new players, they made an impact today.
"There's 36 matches to play. We started with two victories, last year we lost two. Our challenge is each match. We are happy with six points. Next week we are against Liverpool, a big challenge."
Aubameyang had netted the only goal in last weekend's win at Newcastle and he emulated that with another decisive strike following Ceballos' second assist of the match.
Lacazette put the Gunners ahead in the 13th minute, collecting a low corner from Ceballos and showing great strength to turn marker Erik Pieters before driving through the legs of Burnley 'keeper Nick Pope.
Burnley responded well, however, and drew level two minutes before the break when Barnes kept his composure in the box to claim his third goal of the season.
Ceballos then combined with Aubameyang for the winner in the 64th minute. The midfielder won the ball in the Burnley half and fed the Gabonese forward, who burst goalwards before cutting inside and beating Pope with a fine drive.
Aubameyang may have been the match-winner, but at the final whistle, the day belonged to Ceballos, the game's standout player with his touch, skills and vision.
His pressing was also a feature of his game, illustrated by how he won the ball and played Aubameyang on for the winner.
"The idea is to use his quality in the best position in our team," said Emery. "I spoke with him before coming here, it's to play as an eight and a No. 10. He can feel better on the pitch (after today)."
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS