Mikel Arteta singles out Arsenal star for praise after Burnley draw

Mikel Arteta singled out Albert Sambi Lokonga for praise after Arsenal’s frustrating goalless draw with Burnley and said the Gunners summer signing is ‘growing’ and getting ‘better and better’.

Arsenal missed the chance to return to the Premier League’s top four as they were held to a 0-0 draw by bottom-placed Burnley.

Alexandre Lacazette went closest to breaking the deadlock, poking an effort wide with Nick Pope out of his goal, but Arsenal largely flattered to deceive and were booed off by the home fans.

The draw means Arsenal have now gone five matches without a win and stay sixth in the Premier League, two points behind fourth-placed Manchester United.

Arteta cut a frustrated figure after the stalemate in north London but singled out Sambi Lokonga for praise, with the Belgium international quickly developing into a first-team regular at the Emirates following his £18m move from Anderlecht last summer.

‘I think he is growing, he is playing better and better,’ Arteta said. ‘I think he had a really good game the other day against Liverpool, his understanding of the game, he is managing the physicality much better, he is maturing.

‘It’s a lot to ask. When we signed him, the expectation that we had for him in the first year was to start adapting.

‘But he has had to play many more minutes than we expected and the kid is trying his best, and I think he’s doing pretty well.’

On his team’s performance, Arteta added: ‘We started slow, we looked leggy and didn’t have enough rhythm or intention to attack the way we wanted.

‘We started to play better, more rhythm and threat and came out in the second half completely different.

‘We tried in every different way but lacked the quality in the final third. At the end, when we have a really low block, you need spark and creativity to win football matches and today we didn’t do that.

‘It is what they do, they want to play a slow game, it is their game and you have to respect that.

‘We need to start scoring goals and get back the players, the last four weeks it has been extremely difficult to put training sessions and squads together because of the amount of Covid and injuries.’

Sean Dyche’s Burnley have only won one of their 18 matches so far this season and are still four points from safety, although they have up to six games in hand over their Premier League rivals.

After watching Burnley frustrate Arsenal, Clarets boss Dyche said: ‘We will see in the bigger picture but it is another platform to restart.

‘It is a small step because there is a lot of work to be done, but with three weeks without playing, the players have had little training, we are working with the group and trying to stay fit and well.

‘We are looking to refind that edge, slow Arsenal down and find a format that will change the feel of the game – there were moments in the game if we had a bit more quality on the transition we might have nicked something, but we’ll take the point.

‘The main thing is physical because in isolation players can’t do much. I was really pleased, the output was excellent.

‘We have been trying to add quality and create chances but haven’t found that balance, it was about being hard to beat, diligent and it got us a nice point.’

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