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Blackburn Rovers v Arsenal


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Rovers v Arsenal

Rovers double the champs

Rovers: Friedel, Tugay, Short, Flitcroft, duff, Gillespie, Yorke, Taylor, berg, Gresko, Sukur. Subs - Grabbi, Johansson, Douglas, Gallagher, Kelly.

Arsenal: Taylor, Keown, Pires, Ljungberg, Bergkamp, Lauren, Henry, Parlour, Bronckhorst, Edu, Cygan. Subs - Jeffers, Wiltord, Gilberto, Toure, Warmuz.

Rovers and Arsenal both fielded uncomplete sides as the two teams kicked off at a near capacity Ewood Park. Rovers lined up without David Dunn, David Thompson and perhaps surprisingly without Andy Cole. Arsenal was without Patrick Vieira, David Seaman, Gilberto, Sylvain Wiltord and Sol Campbell. They still managed to put out a frightening lineup but the Rovers looked composed as they kicked off and Gary Flitcroft got stuck in early with several tough but fair tackles. Both teams fought it out in midfield before Rovers started to take control of the game resulting in a good chance for Hakan Sukur to score from a Gillespie cross. The former Inter striker missed the header and only struck the ball with his shoulder.

Arsenal gradually got into the game but could not threaten a stubborn Rovers defence led by Henning Berg and Craig Short, who effectively stemmed the pace of Henry and Ljungberg. Arsenal was eventually given a free kick in a good position after Parlour was fouled by Flitcroft. Henry struck it sweetly but Friedel was up to the challenge and fisted it away. The ensuing corner offered Martin Keown a chance but the ball was cleared and Keown had to leave the field with an injury. Just seconds later, Damien Duff scores after a shot from Tugay had struck Yorke. The rebound fell for Duff to volley home after 25 mins. Arsenal seemed rattled by the goal and could not string together a decent passing game. The half came to a close without Rovers very much in control.

The second half got underway and Rovers pinned the defending champions back in their own half but Arsenal came away from the first few minutes and started to string together some good passes. They stretched the Rovers defence but the final pass was always poor and they never really threatened Friedel. Just 10 minutes after the restart Rovers scored again, this time Duff turned the provider as he found Tugay with a clever pass and the little Turk did nothing wrong. With options to his left and right he chose to shoot and slotted it home in the far corner with a sublime finish. Rovers continued to come forward looking for a third and nearly got it as Yorke connected with a Gillespie cross, but the ball sailed over the crossbar.

With 25 minutes to go, Rovers looked in complete control as Arsenal could only create half chances. Not even a double substitution could unsettle out defence. With 15 minutes left, Souness gave Paul Gallagher a chance to test himself against the Champions and managed a shot at Taylor’s goal but it was well wide.

Rovers 2 Arsenal 0

Friedel - 7

Taylor - 7

Berg - 8

Short - 8

Gresko - 7

Gillespie - 7

Flitcroft - 8

Tugay - 9

Duff - 8

Sükür - 7

Yorke - 7

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