Arsenal travelled to Ewood Park in the days early kick-off, looking to build on a decent start to the season after a draw at Anfield on the opening day, and the 6-0 demolition of new boys Blackpool last week.
Almunia maintained his place between the sticks, after another week went by without Wenger bringing in a new stopper.
Sagna, Vermaelen and Clichy were joined at the back by Koscielny who had finished his suspension after his unfortunate sending off at Liverpool a fortnight ago.
Incoming Fabregas and Diaby played in front of Song, who was modelling a new hairstyle. No question marks remain over the boys ability, but there’s some serious question marks above that hair do – have a word with someone before you leave the house my friend.
This left room for a forward three of the returning Robin Van Persie, Arshavin and last weeks hat-trick boy, Theo Walcott.
This match had been hyped in the press the last couple of days as a real clash of footballing styles. The football professor, down-right nice chap and perfectionist, Arsene Wenger – against the pie-eating, gum-chewing, cheek-wobbling up and under Sam Allardyce. The footballing purists were all routing for the Frenchman’s side.
The game started with a free kick being awarded against Arshavin for absolutely nothing, about 10 yards outside the Blackburn box. Cue Robinson to get his foot right under it and lift it into the box, a sign of things to come for sure. After Vermaelen’s clearance, Pedersen was allowed 45 seconds to wipe the ball dry, build up the home fans excitement, before launching a missile – straight into the arms of the confident looking Manuel Almunia.
Arsenal played their way into it after those opening few minutes and the fashioned a good opportunity after Fabregas and Walcott had combined to win a corner. The ball was played in and a good turn just inside the box by Van Persie saw him create some room to get a shot away. The ball was blocked well but bounced up and out to Diaby on the volley, his cracking effort ricocheted off Grella’s knee, into the hapless Paul Robinson before being cleared.
A few more free kicks were pumped deep into the Gunners box, but between Chamakh, who defended set-pieces well all afternoon, Koscielny and Vermaelen, they were all dealt with comfortably.
Blackburns best opportunity came from a corner, which saw Chris Samba, who became a diving, cheating, despicable shit-piece later in the game, rise above his man and head towards the top corner. Luckily Cesc was well aware on the front stick and rose high to head the ball clear.
Arsenal again had to play their way back into the game and earned 2 corners in quick succession, but again, a lack of quality from corner delivery and no opportunities were created.
Another long ball played into the Arsenal half and Spitter Diouf’s handball control saw the ball drop kindly to Kalinic, who had time to set himself but had to watch on, as his shot get blocked by Laurent Koscielny who had thrown himself in the way of the ball. A great example of fully committed defending from the new lad.
From the resulting corner, Chris Samba was again free to head at goal, this time his effort just rising clear of the bar.
Out of nowhere, Arsenal had hit the halfway line with Song playing into Van Persies feet, who turned the defender smartly, before threading a slick pass through the channel into the path of Walcott, who had beaten his man to take control of the ball and unleash a furious drive across Paul Robinson and into the far corner of the net.
A brilliant take from the young man, who looks more confident, more alert and much happier this season.
Blackburn didn’t have a kick of the ball really for 5 minutes or so after that, as Arsenal settled into their passing rhythm and kept the ball moving across the pitch nicely, probing at gaps at the appropriate times.
Arshavin was getting himself involved more and more, with nice link up between himself, Cesc and Diaby.
A lose forward pass was intercepted by Chris Samba, who strode out of the Rovers defence, side-stepping 2 Arsenal players, before sliding a through ball around Koscielny and into the path of Dribbler Diouf, who beat our boy for strength and pace, before arriving at the byline with Almunia rushing towards him, and then pulling the ball back across the 6 yard line for the non-spitting Diouf to slip it home, into an empty net.
The first time Koscielny was caught out all afternoon. To be fair, it looked like he slipped a little as he turned to give chase….. but that’s not going to hide the fact he looked slower than John Terry….
Shortly after this, Van Persie’s annual injury came along, after he half-heartedly tried to make a block challenge and ended up having his ankle jarred upwards. Painful looking, but shows that you need to commit yourself to tackles!
Rapin’ Robin was replaced 5 minutes later by Chamakh.
And so the first half ended, one each, with Arsenal not looking too threatened by the aerial bombardment, unlike last year.
Watching Allardyce leave his chair, I thought to myself – that is one fat, unpleasant looking man. I bet he has a ridiculously hairy back. Disgusting.
5 minutes after the restart, Arsenal’s one goal advantage was restored. A ball from Chamakh into the path of Sagna saw the Frenchman do brilliantly down the right, with him sliding a pull-back to Fabregas for the Spaniard to smash at goal – unfortunately for him, and the travelling faithful, Walcott’s arse blocked the shot…. however, Arshavin was first to pounce on the rebound and calmly, stroked the ball into the bottom corner with real composure. It would have been easy to try and blast the thing too hard, and either take the net, or Robinson’s head off, but he took his time found the gap, and took his chance.
Arsenal, back in front, looking good. Allardyce, chewing his bottom lip, a goal down, looking fat.
A few moments later, Fabregas’ hard work created an opening for Chamakh, who’s attempt with the outside of his right boot was deflected wide for a corner, which nothing came from. Again.
Just after halfway through the second half, Rosicky came on to give Cesc a little breather. The Spaniard is still trying to get back to match fitness, but he was very bright in parts today, sluggish in others. Needless to say, he’ll be back to his best soon.
The only yellow ticket of the day was given to Givet, after a cynical pull back on Theo Walcott, who was clearly about to viciously rape him down the right hand side again.
Rosicky was getting himself involved in everything, and his tidy footwork and precise pass, saw Walcott get a half volley away from 25 yards, which Paul Robinson appeared to tip over the bar. The young Englishman asked the referee, politely of course, for a corner, but Blackburn were given another chance to launch the ball deep, in the form of a goal kick.
David Dunne, who replaced Grella, was looking less rotund than this time last year. The big lads best bit of work came when he sidestepped Vermaelen on the edge of the box to create room for a shot, before unleashing a low, driven dig straight at Almunia, who held on well.
Wilshere got himself a cheeky run out for the last 7 minutes of normal time and looked very confident and assured in possession of the ball, as per normal. He also steamed into Samba, and sent the big fanny flying – a joy to watch.
Theo almost had his second of the game and 5th of the season, but had strayed past the last man before Diaby’s little poke through. Theo’s finish was still pretty good. He actually tucked a little chip away in the first half too, tidy finish, after the offside flag was lifted against him.
As expected, the dying moments had the travelling fans nerves jangling a little, as corners and throw-ins galore were raining in under the Arsenal crossbar, but Chamakh’s presence and clever defending in the box ensure Chris Samba was never in a position to launch his big frame, or oversized head at a dropping ball.
Arsenal did have chances to add to the scoreline, with a couple of late breaks. Chamakh broke through in a 3 on 1, slid the ball to Walcott who squared to Wilshere at the back stick. Young Jack only had to tuck it in, but his touch got away from him a little and Paul Robinson saved well.
With Arsenal on the counter again, after a display of what can only be described as ‘ripping pace’ by Tomas Rosicky, referee for the day Chris Foy decided to call time on what was a brilliant game of football.
Allardyce has every reason to be crying into his pillow tonight, because his shitty one dimensional side had failed again, when it mattered, to beat us. Wenger will be buoyed by his sides performance, especially the resilience shown late on to prevent a Rovers equaliser. On so many previous occasions in games like that, we’d have conceded late on and thrown away 2 points. While we haven’t strengthened too much over the Summer, we do look to have grown in mental strength and physicality.
A great, hard-earned 3 points. Get in you Gunners.
Sidenote, Diouf and Samba’s dives in the dying few minutes were hilarious. Had Foy pointed to the spot, I personally would have flown home, located him, and shoved his whistle up his hoop.
Whee @ Goonersworld Forum