Written by peachesgooner
Yesterday BigRaddy asked if Arsene should risk Cesc for the visit to the Ewood Park and after 30 minutes it was clear that it was actually Mr Chocolate Legs himself that shouldn’t have been risked as van Persie was subbed after twisting an ankle. Although Cesc wasn’t himself, with passes going stray, he hasn’t had a pre-season and he is obviously going to need a few more games.
This was a big test. Blackburn launched ball after ball into our box from either Robinsons goal kicks or the ever boring towel wrapped long throw from Pederson. This was all hands to the deck and with Almunia in goal we had to hope that he would be strong and confident in what will probably have been his last game as the no 1. I have to say that I don’t think he let us down at all, even smashing his head on the upright in the call of duty and having a spat with El-Hadj Diouf.
There was an early chance for us to take the lead when a short corner surprised the Blackburn defence and Diaby unleashed a shot that struck a defender and then Robinson’s leg but refused to go into the goal. We didn’t have to wait too long though as van Persie slipped a great ball to Theo on 20 minutes and without even breaking his stride, he broke the net with his shot low into the far corner.
Typically, Blackburn equalised within minutes, as Koscielny was outrun and outmuscled by one Diouf who then slid the ball to another Diouf who had acres of space to slot it home. Dreadful defending, everyone was asleep.
Diaby was having a great game, making intelligent passes and not getting caught on the ball. To have him marking the massive Samba was reassuring. In this form you never know what Diaby is going to do next and the upcoming 2 week international break could undo all that was good yesterday, we’ll have to hope not.
Arsenal hadn’t dominated the first half and after the game Arsène felt the team were nervous, so to score early in the 2nd half was definitely the tonic we needed. Sagna went on a great run chasing a ball that looked like it was going out of play and sped towards the Blackburn goal, he found Fabregas in the middle whose shot hit Walcott and rebounded into the path of the ‘onrushing’ Arshavin and the russian slotted it neatly home. 2-1 up and just over half an hour to play.
Blackburn worked hard to find an equaliser but Arsenal for the most part were strong in defense. It was still nervy and each time the ball went out for a Blackburn corner, I covered my eyes but we passed the test. This was full on defending in our area, not having to defend as a team higher up the pitch, but those challenges will still come with other teams that want to pass the ball.
Rosicky came on for Cesc after 70 minutes and immediately added a new spark. Theo didn’t have as much of the ball as last week but was still alert late on in the game where last season he may have given up, he seems to be developing a good engine. I may get to like Alan Shearer after his comments on MOTD aimed at Hansen’s rubbishing of Theo’s performance and hat-trick last week. Hansen is obviously going to stick to his guns about Theo, but both Shearer and Lineker clearly disagree. Arsène said at the start of last season that it was Theo’s time to emerge as a great player – his prediction was accurate, but just 12 months early!
Wilshire came on with less than 10 minutes to go and was unlucky not to score after being presented with a great chance – similar to last week’s, maybe he has a chocolate leg too?
To come away from Blackburn with three points was a very good day’s work. Unfortunately it looks like we may have lost Robin for a couple of weeks but with Internationals looming that’s not a crisis. Our passing game is awesome and our resilience in defense will make other teams worried oh and that little no 14, he’s pretty good too.
Here are some player ratings from London
Almunia: credit where credit is due, one of the best performances in goal for Arsenal I am tempted to use the word commanding. 7
Sagna: solid, powerful performance, made some excellent runs, good crosses and great tackles back to his absolute best. 7
Koscielny: dealt with the aerial threat better than expected which reassures me no end but was guilty for their equaliser in my opinion. 6
Vermaelen: not quite at his imperious best, although, it is obviously no easy task dealing with Blackburn’s high ball bombardment. 6.5
Clichy, I don’t quite understand what people mean when they say he can’t defend, very little got past him and from that I form the opinion that he did his job well. 6.5
Fabrégas: If this transfer window has proved anything it is that any player who wants to move can make it happen. I say this just in case there was anyone left who still doesn’t realise rather than the majority who probably think that that statement is as banal as saying grass is green. Macherano is as good an example as it gets, a player who refused to play for Liverpool in the Europa Cup for fear of losing his dream move to Barcelona.
So, I put this question to all of you that still believe that Cesc really wanted to move back to the Catalan capital: why didn’t he do exactly the same as the Argentine? The answer is that Cesc never wanted to leave. The one thing that brought him here in the first place was that Arsenal give him the opportunity to play, so when he is fit he is the first name on the team sheet.
I don’t think he was fit and would have been far better deployed as a sub
Nevertheless, on a purely emotional level it was great to see our captain back, still clearly the most talented player we have and he will no doubt be back to his old self in the near future. 6.5
Diaby: his characteristic sloppy play was the thing I was most worried about today, dithering in the middle, leading to loss of position; we have all seen him do it. Not today, this was the player that gave a performance over and beyond his normal level, his powerful determination was the difference in the midfield and for this I make him my man of the match. 8
Song: poor first half gave the ball away far too often and I suspect he will receive strong criticism in some quarters but he was no more guilty of missed placed passes than Fabrégas. The second half was a different story, I suspect a word in his ear was had; anyway, he was back to his strong ever improving self. 6.5
Walcott: well if not going to the world cup produces this kind of performance lets start the rumour that he is not going to the next one. Now has the confidence to shout at other players when they don’t pass to him when they should, it was funny watching him tearing into Diaby, Theo was so insecure in his own performance he wouldn’t have said boo to a goose. 7.5
Van Persie: he like Cesc probably would not have started if it wasn’t for the Braga game, before that there was no need to for them to really be fit until the Chelsea game but I suspect the Champions League draw forced Wenger to step things up. In short not fit and should not have been playing but lets not forget that assist for the first goal.
Arshavin……who knows? He is in a world of his own, one minute he seems so disinterested, almost as though his mind has wandered onto what he is going to say in his blog tomorrow; then, up he pops, to save the day. I wish he would show some pleasure in scoring. I wonder how he would feel if nobody cheered when he scored. 6