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[Archived] News Article -> 2011/12 Match Report: Arsenal 7 Rovers 1

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Arsenal (3) 7 – 1 (1) Blackburn Rovers
van Persie 2, 38, 62, Arteta 51,
Oxlade-Chamberlain 40, 54,
Henry 90 + 4
Pedersen 31
Referee: A. Marriner Attendance: 59,643

In all my years of watching Blackburn Rovers this was undoubtedly one of the most embarrassing, one-sided affairs that it has ever been my misfortune to witness. It was a gutless, spineless, witless display by a team that waved the white flag as early as the second minute. Venky Rovers, for surely this cannot be called Blackburn Rovers any longer, has finally become a figure of fun amongst its own supporters as well as the opposition. Quite simply it was a case of laugh or cry as the players produced a performance that raised ineptness to a whole new level.

Unlike the match at Old Trafford last season, when Big Sam rested senior players in readiness for the crucial meeting with Wolves the following week, Steve Kean fielded his strongest eleven with the exception of Yakubu and Chris Samba. This was the so-called cream of our squad and quite frankly the performance was nothing short of a disgrace. The fact that supporters had travelled to London for an early kick-off, at great expense, and later endured a difficult journey home, clearly counts for nothing with our highly paid, one might say overpaid, so-called "stars". But for Arsenal taking pity on us and easing up for the last thirty minutes, we might well have been looking at a record scoreline. Quite frankly, if Arsenal had scored 10 or 12 goals we couldn't have complained as our play was so inept.

There is little point in doing a normal match report as a football match tends to require two teams trying to play football. Here we had one side playing some superb football and one set of players looking like a pub team that had strayed onto a Premier League pitch by mistake. Actually, that's rather unfair. I suspect many a pub side would have given Arsenal a better game than the mediocrity that was wearing the yellow shirts — and what a fitting colour it was for them yesterday.

The action was as follows:

2 minutes – van Persie
The Rovers' resistance was broken as early as the second minute when Francis Coquelin, on the edge of the area, played a delightful ball inside Martin Olsson to Theo Walcott. Walcott had raced into space whilst Olsson remained static and despite the pitiful pleas of the defence for offside, Walcott delivered the perfect ball across the face of the goal for Robin van Persie to score from close range.

31 minutes – Pedersen
The Rovers gained an unlikely equaliser when Modeste was fouled on the edge of the "D" by Laurent Koscielny. Pedersen struck the perfect free-kick, which flew over the wall and into the top corner of the net. Sadly, this was the high point of the game for both Pedersen and the Rovers.

38 minutes – van Persie
Just to prove that against the Rovers if something works well once it will work well twice, as we seem rather slow on the uptake with regard to learning from our mistakes. This time it was Alex Song who played the defence-splitting ball inside Olsson for Walcott to run onto. Once again he had the time and space to pick out van Persie, who had no difficulty in scoring from close range.

40 minutes – Oxlade-Chamberlain
Two minutes later and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was on hand to take advantage of another defence-splitting pass. This time it was a delightful reverse pass from van Persie which exploited some dreadful positioning by Bradley Orr at right-back. Oxlade-Chamberlain was on the ball in a flash and skipped round Robinson before stroking the ball into the net. On the evidence of his debut, I feel confident in saying that Orr will fit superbly into the general mediocrity of our defence.

43 minutes – Gael Givet sent off
Against a background of widespread media condemnation of the two-footed lunge, Gael Givet chose this moment to give a perfect demonstration of the tackle which has been the subject of so much discussion in recent weeks. Both feet up with studs showing, he flew into van Persie with no hope of getting the ball. All the fans around me instantly agreed that a red card would be shown and Mr Marriner didn't disappoint. Givet now misses a number of crucial matches for a moment of folly that was totally unnecessary and one which may prove costly to any lingering survival hopes.

51 minutes – Arteta
The fourth goal for Arsenal was simplicity itself. A corner from van Persie was weakly headed down by Steven Nzonzi into the path of Mikel Arteta who wasted no time in firing the ball into the back of the net.

54 minutes – Oxlade-Chamberlain
The fifth Arsenal goal began with a trademark wayward pass from Radosav Petrovic which resulted in the ball being worked to Walcott on the right wing. The Arsenal man set off at pace unhindered by anything resembling a marker and had the freedom to run across the front of the penalty area before slipping the ball to Oxlade-Chamberlain. The rising young star had no trouble in stepping inside a statuesque Pedersen before producing a classy finish to find the back of the net.

62 minutes – van Persie
Oxlade-Chamberlain played a superb cross-field ball out to Coquelin, who was in the right-wing position, and the full-back had no problem in skipping past Junior Hoilett before crossing for van Persie to finish with the deftest of touches as he swept the ball into the net.

90 + 4 minutes – Henry
Arsenal ended their destruction of the Rovers deep into injury time after having taken their foot off the gas for the final thirty minutes. However, it would have been impolite for them not to have taken advantage of another piece of woeful defending by the Rovers. Dann played a careless ball to Grant Hanley and the young Scot was equally careless in miscontrolling the ball and allowing Thierry Henry to race away. The Frenchman is not as quick as he once was and he had to wait for van Persie to overlap him before playing a one–two with the Dutch international. On receiving the return pass, Henry found the net with a shot which struck the hapless Dann on its way into the goal.

The referee's whistle brought merciful relief for the travelling fans. Whilst the Rovers were abject in the extreme, it was a privilege to witness Arsenal produce a brand of football that was a joy to watch. It is watching these type of players that I'll miss most next season if we end up in the Championship.

On returning to Ewood, after a tortuous journey along a snow-covered M6, we walked past the statue of Jack Walker and wondered what the great man would have made of the present situation. The club which he loved and did so much to restore to greatness is now being systematically destroyed by Desai and her family. These are sad times indeed.



Wojciech Szczesny; Francis Coquelin, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny (Bacary Sagna 68), Thomas Vermaelen; Mikel Arteta, Alex Song (Yossi Benayoun 72), Thomas Rosicky; Theo Walcott, Robin van Persie, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Thierry Henry 68)
Subs not used: Lukasz Fabianski (gk), Aaron Ramsey, Ju Young Park, Andrey Arshavin
Manager: Arsene Wenger

Blackburn Rovers

Paul Robinson; Jason Lowe (Bradley Orr 36), Scott Dann, Gael Givet (sent off 43), Martin Olsson; Radosav Petrovic, Steven Nzonzi; Morten Gamst Pedersen, David Dunn (Grant Hanley 45) David "Junior" Hoilett; Anthony Modeste
Subs not used: Mark Bunn (gk), Simon Vukcevic, Ruben Rochina, Mauro Formica, David Goodwillie
Manager: Steve Kean


Arsenal – Laurent Koscielny, Thomas Vermaelen

Blackburn Rovers – Anthony Modeste, Steven Nzonzi, Martin Olsson

Sending off

Blackburn Rovers – Gael Givet

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