Second half switch does the trick as Arsenal revel in early goal

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.
Att: 60,091
Ref: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).

Arsenal Team Statistics Blackburn Rovers
4 Goals 0
1 1st Half Goals 0
9 Shots on Target 1
9 Shots off Target 3
3 Blocked Shots 1
7 Corners 4
10 Fouls 17
3 Offsides 2
0 Yellow Cards 4
0 Red Cards 0
82.3 Passing Success 63
20 Tackles 26
90 Tackles Success 69.2
59.1 Possession 40.9
56.1 Territorial Advantage 43.9
321 Accurate passes 170
62 Bad passes 41

8 thoughts on “Second half switch does the trick as Arsenal revel in early goal

  1. “defensive assurance to the midfield that Arshavin was unlikely to give”? I didn’t quite get that you mean to say that Arshavin isn’t good defensively because the other day I’m sure I saw him try to win a few tackles himself. The same applies for Nasri.

    1. When playing behind the striker the Russian doesn’t track back in the same way Nasri does. He is more counter attacking in his play. Of course when he is wide he gets back and as you say, the same for Nasri but the Frenchman is more supportive (i.e. dropping deeper, doubling up etc.) when centrally therefore greater assurance. Still both great players.

  2. It is true that Arshavin didn’t track as much when he played behind the Russian striker in the Euro’s, perhaps he concentrates a little bit more on attacking. As I heard on MOTD, he is pretty forward thinking haha!

  3. I think the creative potency showed by Song as of late, indirectly helped us against Blacburn.

    Against Sunderland, the Black Cats’ midfield was able to sit off Denilson and Song, safe in the knowledge that they provided little attacking threat. Subsequently, this emplaced much more pressure onto the more creative players such as Arshavin, Van Persie and Nasri, with all 3 being focussed upon by the opposition, denied space, and ultimately stifled.

    Against Blacburn however, their midfield was clearly wary of the threat posed by the deeper-lying players. With this in mind, they looked to push up the pitch and press them quickly, which, in turn, left spaces in between defence and midfield for the likes of Arshavin, Nasri and Bendtner to exploit, as well as providing space in behind the Blackburn defence for Walcott to run into.

    I must say I’ve been unbelievably impressed with Arsenal as of late. The pace, directness and interchangeability has been a stark contrast to what we have generally witnessed over the course of the season.

    Key players are coming back at the right time, and I think our push for honours could end in glory.

  4. Song’s influence has been massive in the past couple of games he has played. I have no idea what happened to him but he went from being unable to make a 10 yard pass to two assists against burnley, and pinging attacking passes all over the field against blackburn. I find it pretty unbelievable how explosively he transformed from one match to the next. He has also been very effective winning the ball, one of our best players right now. He and Denilson have been so good I am almost afraid to lose their midfield shielding and balance when Cesc comes back, although I am sure Fabregas will show his quality and assuage my fears.

  5. I’d love to see something on Nasri’s best role. It seems that Arsene clearly sees him in a wide role, and given the quality of other players that Arsenal can put in the center, I can see why. While one of Nasri’s great strengths is his ability to go anywhere in the opposition’s half and be effective, his passing and wandering seem much more effective from the center. Arshavin’s superior pace and dribbling ability (although Nasri is exceptional on the ball, he’s not Arshavin’s equal) make him more effective than Nasri out wide. Walcott’s impact out wide also put him ahead of Nasri in my opinion (unless he gets moved to the striker role sooner rather than later). But with Fab coming back, and Diaby, Song, and Denilson all showing promise, there don’t seem to be alot of places available in the center.

    The question is, with the focus on what this means for Nasri, does Arshavin predominantly play in the center, off the striker (which means one less place for Adebayor, Van Persie, Eduardo, Bendtner, Vela, and Walcott to fight for up front) which leaves a regular spot for Nasri out wide, or does he go out wide? If Arshavin is wide, then Walcott seems to me the clear choice for the other side, as somewhat of a Ronaldo type striker/winger. If Walcott plays as a central striker there just aren’t enough places for all of Arsenal’s attackers. So if Arshavin is left and Theo right, Fab center with pick one of Diaby, Song, Denilson, Nasri becomes a rotation/squad player… and that whole thing leaves out Rosicky (I don’t see a 5 man midfield being a primary formation for Arsenal, we have to many forwards who would go unused). So that’s where I’m coming from, but it’s hard for me to see Nasri as a rotation, stand in for injury starter. He’s just better than that. And seeing as I don’t claim to have enough insight into all this to do my own blog, I was hoping to get the perspective of someone who does.

    1. Hi. There is hopefully going to be an article looking to answer some of your questions, if not all. I agree with Arshavin being best suited out wide but his versatility is key, especially at the moment where the players are still learning and if things don’t go well.
      Arsenal will always play some sort of 4-4-2 as their first choice formation, who is not clear yet. Wenger wants Nasri to take on players more and when that is fully developed he’ll most likely be the future wide man. Nevertheless the signs are good if these players fully gel to be explosive next season.

  6. Arshavin provided a lot of assists in the game. I would love to see Arshavin play alongside a masterfull finisher like Torres. Arshavin looks like a player in the mould of Pires. He is not that quick but his passes are great. He reads the game well and is able to understand where exactly the player ahead of him wants the ball. Moreover he has the skill to put the ball where he wants.
    Bendtner had amazing positioning . He was there everytime a chance seemed to be created. But in front of goal , he was horrible.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s