Monday, February 6, 2012

Arsenal 7 Blackburn 1

It was reported prior to the match that a section of Arsenal fans were planning to put black bin bags over empty seats at the Emirates on the match day as a protest against the Club's lack of transfer activities in the January window and ambition. The suggested action could have seriously undermined the players' morale before the match. The fans should get behind their players when they are not playing well and their confidence is low. In spite of the report, there were no black bin bags seen in the stadium. There were more empty seats than usual (the official attendance was 59,643), but in light of the London underground disruption and the expected bad weather later on, this was not totally attributed to the recent disappointing results. In fact, there were a large number of empty seats seen across the Premier League clubs, including the Etihad Stadium, the home ground of the current league leaders, due to the winter storm that hit the Britain on this day. Talking about attendance, our attendance at Las Mimosas bar was relatively low this afternoon, perhaps, due to the early kick-off.

If any fan had missed the game for the cause of the protest, he or she would have deeply regretted it. This game could be one of those games to be talked about in the years to come. There were certainly some memorable moments: RVP's hat-trick, Oxlade-Chamberlain's first (and second) Premier-League goal(s), and Thierry Henry's last minute goal in his last game at the Emirates (Arsene Wenger stated he might extend his loan deal, but he would definitely not stay for the home game against Tottenham).

This game was a must-win game not only because we hadn't won for the last four league games, but because we had a score to settle. Blackburn beat us 4-3 at Ewood Park which was a game we shouldn't have lost. With two own goals and an off-side goal, Blackburn didn't deserve to win that game.

We have been quite happy with the team's response to the midweek's disappointment. When Blackburn equalised through Pederson's brilliant free-kick, it was easy to succumb to the ominous feeling of collapse when confidence is low. We saw it happen time and time again last season. Instead, Arsenal carried on attacking and put themselves in front through RVP's second goal in 6 minutes after conceding the equaliser. Within 2 minutes, the Ox scored our third goal to put the game to bed. Arsenal never took the foot off the gas throughout the game. The scoreline boosted our goal difference, while RVP continues on his course for the Premier-League top scorer of the season. It was good to see such an emphatic win again.

Maybe the scoreline does not mean very much. As Arsene Wenger said regarding our 8-2 defeat to Man United and their 6-1 defeat to the City, sending-offs can often produce such exaggerated results. However, Arsenal were already 3-1 up and looked to score more when Givet was sent off. The scoreline just showed how ruthless Arsenal were and we are glad they have done that. Although Blackburn were a sorry side especially without Samba or Yakubu, the comprehensive win should have boosted all our players' morale and confidence.

Also, the attacking problems we held up in our last post seemed to have been addressed. Our attack was quicker and more players chose to shoot rather than pass, while we scored 7 goals out of 16 goal attempts, half of which were goalbound. Let's hope Arsenal have solved their attacking problems once for all.

Player ratings

Szczeny: 6
As Blackburn registered only 2 shots on target, he didn't have much to do. He got his hand to Pederson's free kick, which suggested he might have been able to stop it.

Coquelin: 8
Linked well with Walcott and set up a goal for RVP. He is another bright future for Arsenal.
Mertesacker: 7
No trouble.

Koscielny: 6
Gave away a foul in the dangerous position, which led to Blackburn's equaliser. Wenger revealed in his post-match interview that Koscielny had a problem, hence Sagna's introduction in his place and Vermaelen moving to the central defence. Hope the problem is not too serious.

Vermaelen: 7
Played throughout the game despite the early knock.

Rosicky: 6
As widely expected, he started in place of Ramsey, who has looked tired recently and overused so far this season, which is his first full season in the top-flight football. Is it only me who feel that Arsenal attacks more quickly with him than with Ramsey?

Arteta: 7
Played well throughout and scored his fourth goal of the season.

Song: 7
His through ball to Walcott started the sequence to the first goal.

Walcott: 8
Provided assists to 3 goals. Used his pace very well. Even his critics at our supporters Club were happy with him today.

Oxlade-Chamberlain: 9
He was a threat to Blackburns' defence every time he went forward. He has pace, strength, trickery and composure. A perfect winger. He is a massive positive from the so far disappointing season.

van Persie: 9
Scored a hat-trick and made 2 assists. His movements without the ball were excellent as well. After completing his hat-trick, he gave Henry a chance to score, which was a very nice team play to see. It also shows how much RVP appreciates Henry's presence.

Henry: 7
67th-minute substitute for the Ox. Made a great run alongside RVP and scored another fairy-tale goal.

Sagna: 7
Started from the bench after his first 90-minute game in 4 months on Wednesday and came on the pitch in the 67th minute for Koscielny. Took a left-back position.

Benayoun: 7
Came on in the 72nd minute for Song. Lively.

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