How long have we been hoping for a result like this? We said for a long time that somebody will get a hiding from Arsenal sooner or later and today Blackburn – together with a handful of wasted bin bags, filled with nothing but hot air – were taken to the Bin-Bangers.
Arsene decided to rest the tired Ramsey and also Sagna, who only just returned from a long injury. Blackburn’s Steve Kean did us a massive favour by leaving out the always-impressive-against-us Samba, and Yakubu was still suspended. So, given the weaker line-up by Blackburn, and the fact we were playing at home with a relatively strong line-up, we were of course expected to win. But, haven’t we been here a few times before this season …?
Arsenal started brightly and got just what the psychiatrist ordered: an early goal. Rosicky found Walcott with a through-pass towards the by-line and Theo kept his composure to pass a fine ball in between the stranded Robinson and the Blackburn Defence, resulting in an easy tap-in for the always alert Robin van Persie: 1-0 to Arsenal in the second minute!
After that, Arsenal dominated without being particularly dangerous in front of the Blackburn goal, although Vermaelen came close once with an effort against the post.
Blackburn tried to keep it tight and were reasonably well-organised in the first part of the first half. Although Arsenal totally dominated in the first half, our lack of thrust and creativity after the early goal, started to subdue the crowd. Out of nothing, Blackburn earned a free-kick in a dangerous position, after Koscielny made a wrong judgement, allowing the ball to bounce after which he had no option but to hold back Anthony Modeste with his arms. It came as no surprise that Blackburn levelled with a superb free-kick by Pedersen. He is one of the best free-kick takers in the PL, and also on this occasion he produced a very fine effort which Szczesny did well to still get a few fingers to, but to no avail: 1-1.
The equaliser tested our patience and resolve. Of course it was against the run of play and therefore undeserved, but that’s how football often goes. Luckily, we did not have to wait long to see whether Arsenal would respond in the right way. A very fine through ball by Song – he assists when he wants, it seems – reached Theo in an identical spot as where he was for the first goal. Also on this occasion Theo kept his composure, as he put in a subtle cross to the once again alert super-Dutchman, who loftily lifts the ball with his ‘inferior’ right foot over the leg of a defender to slot in his second goal: 2-1.
Two minutes later and Arsenal score the goal of the afternoon. It not only was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain first PL game, but his goal, and RvP’ assist, were reminiscent of a DB10/Th14 goal in our recent, glorious past. RvP just showed with his assist what a complete football player he is. After scoring a Poacher’s brace already, this time he finds a Bergkamp-esque through-ball to the Ox, surgically carving open the Blackburn defence in a split-second. AOC takes the ball into the sixteen yard box with a fine first touch, and with an even better second touch gets himself in an excellent scoring position. The adrenalin must be boiling inside his 18 year young body, but he stays calm and scores with the coolness similar to Thierry Henry’s in his very best days: 3-1.
This was the pivotal moment of the game, not just in terms of quality, but also by having created a two-goal lead, Arsenal had settled its, recently so over-tested, nerves. However, Arsenal were then helped further by a reckless lunge of Givet on RvP, after which the former was rightly sent-off. Luckily, very luckily, RvP managed to lift himself off the ground, a fraction of a second before Givet’s two-footed impact. With a 3-1 lead, against 10-men Blackburn all was looking good for the mighty Arsenal.
Arsenal meant business from the start of the second half. It clearly was not prepared to sit back on its lead and soon it was rewarded for its attitude. Arteta, who throughout the first half had made football look so easy with his composure and positioning, pounced on the rebound and slotted home a decent shot from just inside the box: 4-1!
These are the sort of goals we have been missing this season and it was just what we needed to keep the momentum going.
In the 54th minute, 3 minutes after the fourth Arsenal goal, we scored another fine goal. Theo Walcott, who played with real verve and focus during the entire game, made a strong run across the Blackburn sixteen-yard box after which he found the Ox in a bit of space. The Ox did not hesitate for a second and took Theo’s pass in one go, shooting past Robinson’s right-hand corner: 5-1.
Then it was Coquelin’s turn to provide an assist, which RvP despatched once again from close range with this right foot: 6-1.
An easier hat-trick he will never get! Coquelin was impressive throughout the game; he plays with a confidence, maturity and physicality which are way beyond his age. On top of that he has a classy style about him, in the way he runs and he passes the ball: another fine prospect! After that, Arsene made a couple of substitutions: Benayoun and TH12 came on for The Ox and super-Song. Very surprisingly RvP stayed on the field!
Understandably, the game lost some of its intensity after the substitutions and the 6-1 score. However, just before the end TH12 scored a somewhat fortuitous seventh goal from another RvP assist, to complete the total rout: 7-1!
This is a very good result for Arsenal and just what we needed. Of course it is just one game and it would be wrong to get carried away. Blackburn was weakened by the omission/non-availability of Samba and Yakubu and the sending-off of Givet was also helpful. However, seven goals from eleven shots on target is a fantastic return, and four ‘non-RvP goals’ in one match is also very encouraging and much-needed at this stage. Results like this build confidence and bring back the feel-good-factor.
The Ox was phenomenal: his goals were classy and taken so maturely for his age, but on top of that he carries such a threat and thrust with him, every time he starts an attacking move. He reminds me a bit of the ‘Portuguese Ronaldo’ and also a bit of Messi. It is early days of course, but the Ox is the sort of player Arsenal has cried out for, ever since the departure of Dennis Bergkamp (not that they are a similar type of football player).
Theo proved that he can recover from one game to the next and I guess we all have to get used to the fact that he will have good days and average days throughout his career (most wingers suffer from the same problem). It will be interesting to see how the Gerv, Theo and The Ox – and eventually Ryo – will compete for the wing-positions. I wish I could incorporate Arshavin, but it feels his time is up at Arsenal.
Song and Arteta had great games and Rosicky made a decent enough contribution too. The BFG, Koz and Vermaelen had relatively easy games and made no mistakes (except for Koz in the first part of the first half).
TV looks like a Bouncer at a Tea-Party in the LB position, and I am sure he wants to be back as CB asap. Szczesny had also little to do but what he did was good (except for one moment in the first half when he decided to come to the edge of his box to clear a high ball which he messed up: it could easily have resulted in an embarrassing outcome for him).
Coquelin was superb and I just cannot believe our luck that we have so many young players coming through and making it into our first-11 at the moment.
But, ultimately this is the story of the Theo, The Ox, and the Fox in the Box:
Theo: 3 top assists, 0 goals.
The Ox: 0 assists, 2 goals.
The Fox in the Box: 2 assists, 3 goals.
Total: 5 assists, and 5 goals. Simply fantastic!
Szczesny, Koz, TV, BFG: 7. All did their jobs well, but they were not tested much today.
Le Coq: 8. Fantastic game, with a fine assist as well.
Arteta, Rosicky, Song – ARS: 7.5. All did their jobs well today and all brought something extra to the game with either a goal (Arteta) or an indirect assist (Rosicky, Song).
TheO, The Ox, and the Fox in the Box: 9. Together they are my Men of the Match.