Arsene Wenger’s change of tactics in the second half gave Arsenal the fluidity to come out as comfortable winners with Andrey Asrhavin scoring his first goal for the club and Eboue completing things with a double.
Emirates Stadium has waited a long time. January 10 was the last time a league goal was scored at home by Arsenal as Nicklas Bendtner’s late strike gave the Gunners a priceless win over an ultra-defense minded Bolton side. This time faced with the prospect of another such a match Arsenal did what they failed to do in the previous three home games; score early. And with that early goal, should have gave Arsenal the freedom and fluidity to get more and indeed it did, but not until the second half.
Arsenal were no doubt the better side in the opening period but were not the dominant force they are usually when they get the first goal. Bedndtner’s control, swivel and pass simultaneously opened up the Blackburn defence and Walcott’s ball across goal fell to Arshavin who bundled the ball in via a big deflection from Ooijer. Such interchange from the forward men was frequent but not as incisive as Arsenal would have liked and had Rovers had more guile to go with the steely determination they have gained under Sam Allardyce, could have maybe forced something more.
The second half re-shuffle in moving Nasri to the centre and Arshavin to the left gave Arsenal greater impetus and had Bendtner not spurned a quartet of chances the Gunners could have come away a cricket score. Nasri roaming around the pitch allowed Arsenal to double up in crucial areas causing unpredictability, better link up and defensive assurance to the midfield that Arshavin was unlikely to give. Bedntner’s best chances came in the form of two one-on-ones, the first straight at Robinson and the over blazed over but confidence and composure was sorely lacking however credit must go to the Dane as he was always involved. “He is always in the situation and his first touch was much better today and his movement was good,” said Wenger “He likes to play as the lead striker and he has power and pace. He understands the game and he’s only 20 years old, people forget that.”
Arshavin weaved his magic once again, getting his first goal for the club, similar to the one for Russia against Macedonia. Denilson’s superb ball found the Russian who jinxed easily past Simpson and faced with the tightest of angles, showed impossible is nothing for him as he fired a unstoppable shot into the top corner. Eboue made it three with a tap and a penalty to complete a much overdue thrashing from the Gunners; the last time they scored more than one at the Emirates was against Tottenham in the 4-4 draw.
A note on Alex Song. The Cameroon international has a curious role at the club in that it is like a reversed water-carrier role. His partnership with Denilson is reminding of Pirlo and Gattuso, though less expansive. Song is detailed to latter hassle’s and harries higher up the pitch and making tackles while Denilson sits deeper and dictates. It’s an interesting tactic but unlikely to continue with Fabregas coming back. Pressuring early to get the ball as high as possible is something that Barcelona practice and part of the reason Arsenal were so dominant against Roma in the first leg.
Man of the Match: Andrey Arshavin
Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Djourou, Clichy, Walcott (Diaby 79), Song Billong, Denilson, Arshavin, Nasri (Eboue 83), Bendtner (Vela 79).
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Gallas, Van Persie, Gibbs.
Goals: Arshavin 2, 65, Eboue 87, 90 pen.
Blackburn: Robinson, Simpson, Samba, Ooijer, Givet (Dunn 13), Diouf, Mokoena, Khizanishvili (McCarthy 66), Warnock (Olsson 55), Pedersen, Roberts.
Subs Not Used: Bunn, Kerimoglu, Andrews, Treacy.
Booked: Diouf, Mokoena, Khizanishvili, Ooijer.
Ref: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).
|Arsenal||Team Statistics||Blackburn Rovers|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|9||Shots on Target||1|
|9||Shots off Target||3|