Sunday, 29 August 2010

Blackburn v Arsenal: The big match report

Blackburn 1 - Arsenal 2
At Ewood Park

Arsenal XI: Almunia, Sanga, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Clichy, Fabregas(C) [Rosicy - 68], Song, Diaby, Walcott, Van Persie [Chamakh - 34], Arshavin [Wilshere - 83]
Substitutes not used: Fabianski, Gibbs, Eboue, Vela

Goals: Walcott (20), Arshavin (51)
Goals conceded: Diouf (27)
Highlights: AVTO; MOTD

It was a task which many Gooners questioned whether we were up to. But Arsene Wenger's side proved one hurdle had already been overcome. That of not being psychologically bullied out of games and winning against a team with a physical approach.

It was how we all expected it to be. Sam Allardyce always plays the same way against Arsenal. But we showed we were very much up to the task.

The game wasn't pretty, especially the first half. We tried to play our usual passing game and Blackburn were pressing us hard, trying to win the ball back as high up the pitch as possible.

It was Theo Walcott who made the difference. He was a man on a mission again today.He scored one and I'm crediting him with the assist for Andrey Arshavin's goal.

He certainly looks a different player this season.

Arsenal started well and may well have been ahead in the third minute of the game. A corner from the right was swung in, the ball came out to Abou Diaby and the Frenchman shot through a crowd of players. It deflected off a Blackburn defender and then reached Paul Robinson. However the shot could have easily ended up in the back of the net.

Blackburn's possession in the first half must have been mostly taken up with long punts from Paul Robinson into the Arsenal area. When ever they had the opportunity, they would push Christopher Samba and Ryan Nelson into the Arsenal penalty area to try and out muscle us. Those tactics were also employed from the long throws from Morten Gamst Pedersen, which has seen the Stoke City ploy of toweling the ball down move to Ewood Park. When are the footballing authorities going to ban it? It takes them 30 seconds to take a throw in.

The ariel bombardment continued through out the opening third of the half, with Ryan Nelson seeing his header cleared off the line by Cesc Fabregas from a Blackburn corner.

Thomas Vermaelen and :Laurent Koscielny were strong throughout the half with their defending and I was more than comfortable with what I saw from our centre halves.

Manuel Almunia was strong within side his six yard box. And early throw saw him push one of his own defenders out of the way to catch the ball comfortably and the Spaniard was called into action from a long Pedersen throw which Samba got his head to and his lopping header was clawed away by the Arsenal shot stopper when it looked like it was going in.

Almunia took a knock to his head for his efforts, colliding with the post as he came down to earth.

Arsenal continued to play their passing game but should take heed when clearing the ball from their own box. Too often the clearances would fall to a Blackburn player outside the box when it would have been easier to try and bypass our midfield and play the ball wide to either Walcott or Arshavin.

The Arsenal goal came from one of our familiar passing movements. Alex Song played the ball to Andrey Arshavin who under pressure with two Blackburn players around him smuggled the ball to Robin Van Persie. The striker's immediate reaction was to release Theo Walcott with a defence splitting pass. Walcott took two touches before firing the ball hard and low past Robinson, with a shot which broke the net.

Rovers were level seven minutes later. Arshavin trying to play a defence splitting ball which would have release Walcott on the right had his pass intercepted by Samba. The big defender strode forward and with two Arsenal players around him pushed the ball wide to El-Hadji Diouf.

Sanga was caught out on the half way line and Diouf peeled off Koscielny and on to the left wing. He out muscles the Frenchman and drives with the ball into the box. Almunia leaves his line to meet the ball and with Vermaelen and Clichy defending, Mame Diouf steels in between them to slot the ball home.

Clichy should have attacked the ball and not left it to Vermaelen. He did not realise that Mame Diouf was behind him and that is something which has caught the Frenchman out before.

At half time it was 1-1, but the travelling support didn't have to wait long to celebrate another Arsenal goal. In the 51st minute Maroune Chamakh plays the ball wide to Sagna on the right. The Frenchman keeps it in play, and as El-Hadji Diouf slows believing it will go out of play, Sanga speeds forward. His cross reaches Fabregas in the Rovers box and the midfielder shoots. His effort hits Walcott on the back and the ball ricochets kindly for Arshavin who unmarked shoots between Robinson and two defenders into the opposite corner to score. 2-1 Arsenal.

Nikola Kalinic blazed a left-foot shot over the bar before Allardyce made his first change introducing David Dunn. However as the game wore on Arsenal found their rhythm and reduced the number of long balls Rovers were able to play into our box from their own half.

Walcott had another chance in the half, shooting from distance, an effort which appeared to be tipped over the bar by Robinson.

We should have added a third in injury time. From defence to attack we sprung. A long throw from Pedersen on the 90th minute was headed away by Diaby, but fell to a Rovers player. It was passed wide for Pedersen to whip in another cross which was met by a Rovers player and headed to El-Hadji Diouf. The ball became trapped under his feet and he went to ground, hoping referee Chris Foy would award a penalty. A second Rovers player trying to take the ball forward in the box then went to ground after being challenged by Alex Song. The midfielder gets the ball away to Diaby, who under pressure beats two players to thread a pass through to Chamakh.

The Moroccan sprints into the Blackburn area and plays a square ball to Walcott who rolls the ball to Jack Wilshere. As he's about to pull the trigger, he loses his footing at the vital moment and his weak shot is parried round the post by Robinson.

It ended 2-1. I believe we did enough to merit all three points. Our passing in the first half wasn't up to its usual high standards but the second half we were much improved. It was a shame we lost Robin to injury, but hopefully he will come back after the international break fit and ready to go again.

I thought Theo Walcott was excellent. He really seems to be pressing on this season. It was good we finished this spell of three games prior to the international break with a win. Hopefully when we return with our home game against Bolton in 13 days we can continue were we left off.
Blackburn Rovers v Arsenal: Arsene Wenger's post match reaction

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1 comment:

  1. I like your blog very much, and I enjoy reading your pieces. Do you think you could keep to the same tense throughout the piece though? Unless that's the style you are going for, of course.