Arsenal’s 007 Performance: My Name Is Bond, Premium Bond
Arsenal 7 – 1 Blackburn Rovers
1 – 0 van Persie (2)
1 – 1 Pedersen (31)
2 – 1 van Persie (28)
3 – 1 Oxlade-Chamberlain (40)
4 – 1 Arteta (51)
5 – 1 Oxlade-Chamberlain (54)
6 – 1 van Persie (62)
7 – 1 Henry (90)
Sent off: Givet (42)
Arsenal delivered their first Premier League victory of 2012 with an emphatic margin, over Blackburn Rovers. Post match, Arsène was keen to put the result into perspective,
I felt that recently we had quite good performances but did not get the results. Today we got the performance and the result, which is ideally what you want. I do not give much importance to the seven goals, it is just important we won and played well.
The second time Arsenal have hit seven at The Emirates, this is the biggest Premier League tally since Middlesbrough conceded a similar total six years ago at Highbury. Almost twenty years ago to the day, Sheffield Wednesday conceded something like six in the final half an hour; yesterday’s burst came with four in twenty minutes either side of half-time. Add in a well-deserved red card, it was little wonder that there was a goalscoring lull between the sixth and seventh goals. I am sure that there will be those who view that as a weakness.
Surprisingly given his pre-match comments, the manager chose to give Robin van Persie the full ninety minutes. Leading the media up a blind alley? Possibly, considering the mini-break that the Dutchman enjoyed recently. Certainly, if he was in need of a rest then a five goal lead in a situation where one can be given.
Thierry Henry provided the final act of the match with a deflected shot, with speculation this morning that Wenger is to contact New York Red Bulls so that the striker’s loan spell be extended to include the match against Tottenham at the end of the month. With the gap to fourth just two points before the rest of the weekend’s matches, the pressure point has changed; Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle have to win to effect change – none can consider that to be a given right.
The afternoon started brightly; van Persie swept home in the second minute following good wide play from Theo Walcott. The England international is reportedly ready to sign a new deal, something that will disappoint his detractors in the stands as much as it does other clubs. It was a display that highlights the infuriatingly inconsistent form he can produce; yesterday showed that the level of expectation placed on his shoulders is not unrealistic.
On the other flank, Oxlade-Chamberlain continued his impressive form, his brace of excellently taken goals ensuring that the hype surrounding the youngster will continue unabated. It will be of little surprise if he is included in the full squad for the upcoming friendly against Holland. His width was pivotal in stretching the Blackburn defence even before they were reduced to ten men. There was no argument for the apologetic Givet’s dismissal but even before then, the problems were apparent for the visitors.
That on the half hour Blackburn were level was barely credible. Pedersen’s free-kick was expectedly excellent; that it was their only shot on target in the first half sums up the luck enjoyed by Arsenal at the moment. That joy was shortlived. A replica of the opener came eight minutes later, Walcott on the right, van Persie found space to sweep home. The third came soon after when the Dutchman’s reverse pass was controlled by Oxlade-Chamberlain with a slightly heavy touch, Robinson was slow off his line and the youngster rounded him with ease to score. It must bring the total goals conceded against Arsenal close to a century by the goalkeeper; can we play you every week, indeed.
Rapid fire scoring commenced after half-time. Arteta added a fourth, deflected into the net from a corner; he might have had a brace but his van Basten-esque volley ended high and wide. Still, in his mind’s eye I am sure it nestles comfortably in the net! The fifth? Oxlade-Chamberlain deservedly scored again following more good work by Walcott, possibly the only Arsenal player that deserved a goal who didn’t get one. The van Persie treble came when Walcott permitted Coquelin to torment Rovers on the right, his cross once more gleefully swept into the net.
Coquelin almost added the seventh with an ambitious drive but it was Henry who somewhat appropriately added the icing to the cake. It topped off a joyful afternoon, old and new Masters of the Net embraced behind the goal. A fluffy feeling all round.
The truth is Blackburn were poor and the frustration of previous performances was taken out on them. The early goal settled nerves somewhat but there was a familiarity about punishment from the opponents rarest of chances. However, confidence was evident in the rapid response. The scoreline is at once freakish but in line with results elsewhere this season.
The important thing is to take this into the Sunderland match next weekend, quickly followed by the trip to Milan. Win at the Stadium of Light and that is four matches unbeaten, considerably better than two wins in five. Ultimately, it provides breathing space; a buffer against vehement criticism. Things still need to be put right and the lack of activity in the transfer window may prove to be costly; equally it might not. It is an imponderable until the end of the season. So, for now, enjoy the result, enjoy the win and stop moaning. For a few days at least, eh?
Over on Arsenal On This Day, Sir Henry Norris sues the Football Association for libel following an investigation into the finances of Arsenal Football Club. Day One of the trial this morning.