Arsenal (6) – (2) Blackburn Rovers
Vermaelen (17′), Van Persie (33′), Arshavin (37′),
Fabregas (57′), Walcott (75′), Bendtner (89′)
The Emirates Stadium, London
Well despite going behind twice Arsenal showed great spirit and in the end comfortably won the game 6-2, with goals from 6 different goalscorers.
The opening goal from Blackburn really set the pace for the match and because they got it so early you almost expecting an onslaught from Arsenal. After only 3 minutes, a long freekick from Paul Robinson flew into our penalty area and Steven Nzonzi got ahead of Vermaelen and his header looped over Mannone and went in off the bar.
A quite fortuitous goal, but one we always seem to concede now and then.
After that it was attack against defence.
Arsenal were really pushing forward and minutes later a nice cross from Arshavin found Fabregas in the middle who looped a header over Robinson but it hit the bar.
Then on 17 minutes Arsenal got what they deserved.
A great interception by Vermaelen won back possession and despite being fouled, the referee played a decent advantage and waved play on. The ball found its way to Fabregas who fed Vermaelen who needed no second invitation to shoot, and he rifled a stunning left-footed shot right into the bottom corner.
Arsene has made some great signings in his 13 years at Arsenal, but this guy has to be right up there.
Fabregas was running the show at this point and he had a couple of decent long range efforts saved well by Robinson. But as Arsenal piled forward Blackburn took the lead again, this time from a well executed counter attack.
Everyone’s favourite player Diouf played a 50 yard ball to Brett Emerton, who ran 20 yards with the ball without a challenge and played in David Dunn. He cut inside and pulled the trigger and the ball deflected off Gallas and into the net. A lucky goal and there was nothing Mannone could have done about it.
That goal seemed to just galvanise Arsenal and Fabregas made another two assists – one for Van Persie and one for Arshavin – to put Arsenal in front before half time.
In the second half, Arsenal carried on from where they left off and an already fantastic performance from Fabregas was capped off with a stunning left-footed half-volley on 57 minutes. 3 assists and a beautiful goal, not bad for an hours work!
Walcott came on for Rosicky on 69 minutes for his eagerly-awaited return and he only took 6 minutes to make an impact and score a well taken goal.
Fabregas again fed in Arshavin on the left hand side and the Russian ran down the wing before playing Fabregas back in just outside the area. But instead of shooting, Fabregas just ushered the ball on to Walcott on the right who placed a shot right into the bottom corner.
And that signalled the end of Fabregas’ matching winning performance, and along with Arshavin they were replaced by Aaron Ramsey and Nicklas Bendtner.
In all honesty you didn’t notice Arshavin and Fabregas were no longer on the pitch, due to the sheer dominance of Arsenal. Ramsey played particularly well in his 20 minute cameo, creating excellent chances for Bendtner, Walcott and Van Persie. and it was his pass which setup Arsenal’s final goal which was another stunning strike from Bendtner.
In the end, you couldn’t ask for more from a football match. Plenty of goals, a great performance and all 3 points.
Vito Mannone: 7/10
Despite conceding twice, I honestly can’t fault him for either of the goals. The first was a looping header which was – in my eyes anyway – very fortuitous, and the second was a heavy deflection. After the first goal he came out confidently for crosses and long balls so at least he learns from previous incidents. I don’t know what it is about this young goalkeeper but I feel confident when he’s playing – even more so when Almunia or Fabianski are playing. Is that strange?
Bacary Sagna: 8/10
Full of running yet again and solid at the back. Like Clichy, gives Arsenal that extra outlet when attacking and put in a superb performance in today.
William Gallas: 7/10
Maybe I’m being harsh, but I wasn’t too happy with his handling of Dunn for Blackburn’s second goal. We all know Dunn is right-footed so to not force him wide was a strange decision I thought. Unlucky in the way the ball came off him to finish in the net but maybe it shouldn’t have got that far in the first place.
Thomas Vermaelen: 9/10
Excellent yet again. First to everything and Di Santo didn’t even have a sniff. Was unfortunate for the first goal but after that didn’t put a foot wrong. Great determination and desire to create the opening for his equalising goal and that strike was sumptuous. He really does give Arsenal that extra dimension, with his threat in the air and his long-range shooting ability. Could be one of the highest scoring defenders since Fernando Hierro. Possibly.
Gael Clichy: 7/10
Another solid performance, but still a bit rash when trying to win the ball high up the pitch. Supported Arshavin and Rosicky well on the left hand side.
Alex Song: 8/10
Another good performance from Song. Won the ball convincingly, always covered key areas and his passing was good today too.
Abou Diaby: 5/10
Too wasteful and indecisive. I never see him making a decent effort to help out the defence and when on the ball he insists on taking far too many touches. Missed a sitter when presented with an open goal to shoot at and I can’t count how many times he loses the ball when he’s not even under any pressure. Was lucky that everyone else was playing so well.
Cesc Fabregas (Captain): 10/10
What else can you say about his performance today? Just when you thought that he might be going off the boil he shows us all what he’s all about. 4 cute assists and an emphatic left-footed piled driver on the half volley. Was so good and made such an impact he was taken off with 20 minutes to go.
Tomas Rosicky: 7/10
Got involved in the play well and always wanted the ball. Also put in a solid performance defensively, making some decent tackles and closing down players. Came agonisingly close with a 20 yard effort which could have easily went into the top corner and can be happy with his 29th birthday.
Robin Van Persie: 9/10
I’ve been very impressed with Van Persie’s performances recently. Out of all the players, Robin has had the biggest change thrust upon him playing in the central role of the 3 attackers but he has really adapted well. He’s added new skills to his repertoire, and now holds the ball up well, links the play well and is much more intelligent in his passing. Totally deserved his goal and will be a massive player for Arsenal this season.
Andrei Arshavin: 8/10
Everything this guy does with a football just oozes quality and today was no different. His passing, movement and ability on the ball was decisive and took his goal very well.
Theo Walcott (Replaced Rosicky on 69′): 7/10
An ideal return for Theo, who scored a well taken goal just minutes after coming on. Almost added a second when played in by Ramsey but his scuffed effort was scrambled off the line.
Nicklas Bendtner (Replaced Arshavin on 76′): 8/10
Looked bright when he came on and always wanted to be involved in the play. Took his goal superbly and hopefully that goal will be the start of a few for him this season.
Aaron Ramsey (Replaced Fabregas on 76′): 8/10
It would be no exaggeration to say he did more in 20 minutes than Diaby did in the whole game. Created 4 fantastic opportunities for his team-mates with some great through balls and was composed and confident on the ball. Shows far more intelligence (as well as desire to help defensively) which is why I am stunned Diaby is ahead of Ramsey in pecking order. Ramsey is the far better option on every level.