Alexis Sanchez scored a 98th-minute penalty as 10-man Arsenal recovered from conceding in injury time to claim a thrilling win over Burnley at Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners’ title chances appeared to have been derailed as substitute Francis Coquelin fouled Ashley Barnes in the 93rd minute and Andre Gray converted from the spot to level after Shkodran Mustafi’s header had finally broken Burnley’s resistance.
But, after Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was sent to the stands for protesting referee Jon Moss’ decision, Ben Mee was then penalised for a high foot on Laurent Koscielny in the Burnley area, and Sanchez deceived Clarets keeper Tom Heaton with a Panenka-style penalty,
The hosts had dominated for most of the game until Granit Xhaka’s second dismissal of the season for a reckless two-footed lunge on Steven Defour, from which Burnley profited, only for Sanchez to claim all three points in impudent fashion.
Arsenal’s fifth consecutive league victory at Emirates Stadium lifts them above Liverpool and Tottenham, who both dropped points on Saturday, and cuts the gap to leaders Chelsea to five points, who face Hull later.
The result also means Burnley’s dismal away record this season continues, with Sean Dyche’s side having collected only one point from a possible 30 on the road.
Arsenal spent most of the first hour trying to score a contender for goal of the month, showing plenty of neat interplay and creative flourishes but without anything to show for their endeavours.
Sanchez drew a solid save from Heaton and curled two efforts narrowly over either side of the interval, while Aaron Ramsey tried his best impression of Olivier Giroud’s scorpion kick goal against Crystal Palace but without the same result.
The feeling it would be another frustrating day for Arsenal mounted.
It turned out a more pragmatic approach was needed to break down a stubborn Burnley defence as Mustafi, who had a good penalty shout turned down moments before, stole a march on his marker to glance Mesut Ozil’s corner into a vacant far corner.
For five minutes a second goal seemed inevitable, only for Xhaka’s dismissal to scupper Arsenal’s flow and ensure they had to emulate the defensive organisation of their opponents in a frenetic final half hour.
Heading into seven minutes of added time, it appeared that Arsenal had done enough, thanks largely to the efforts of Mustafi and Koscielny, only for Coquelin to make a rash tackle on Barnes, with Gray scoring from the spot despite Petr Cech getting a firm hand on his shot.
Yet Arsenal resolved to go simple and direct once more, a late free-kick lifted towards the back post for Koscielny, who appeared to be offside when the ball was played, with Mee raising his foot towards the defender’s face and Moss given little option but to award a second penalty in five thrilling minutes.
Sanchez had one moment of panache left though, coolly chipping his effort straight down the middle as Heaton dived to his right, securing a vital win.