Arsenal 6 – 2 Blackburn
Vermaelen 17, Van Persie 33, Arshavin 37, Fabregas 57, Walcott 75, Bendtner 89
Arsenal 6, Blackburn 2, it’s a scoreline that we seem to like quite a lot down at the Emirates. It was in fact, the same scoreline 3 years ago and that was the season we did quite well… and yesterday’s performance was of the highest quality. Yes, we did go 1-0 down and then 2-1 down, but you could sense in this team that we had the desire to win and even though we were 2-1 down, you simply knew we weren’t going to lose the game.
I had the privilege of being at the game, and the front four of Cesc, Rosicky, Arshavin and Van Persie is just a mouth watering proposition – we’ve seen in the last two games that we are so attacking with this type of flair in the team, it’s virtually irresistible. The line up yesterday was:
Sagna – Gallas – Vermaelen – Clichy
Song – Diaby
Rosicky – Cesc – Arshavin
Swap Diaby for Nasri and swap Mannone for Almunia and you’ve got what looks close to our first choice XI based on form at the moment… and that’s not including the talents of Walcott, Eduardo and Carlos Vela… or Niklas Bendtner, who scored a sublime sixth goal too… worth a watch!
Due to travel arrangements and the silly tube suspensions on the weekend, I was a little late to the game and when I arrive on the fifth minute, we were one-nil down. In the programme, Vito Mannone had been talking about how he’s focused on keeping a clean sheet, and how he’d managed to do so against Fulham and Olympiakos and then four minutes in, a looping header snuck in to make it 1-0 to the away team… So as you can imagine, as I arrived, I was pretty nervous!
But it wasn’t long before we equalised and a stunning strike by our top goal scorer, Thomas Vermaelen, fizzed in from about 20 yards and we were looking strong. But a counter attack, in which Gallas looked a bit leggy about, saw David Dunn make it 2-1 much against the run of the play. Apart from that incident, I have to say Gallas was outstanding…
But we were determined to win, and a sublime through ball by Cesc to Van Persie quickly restored parity, the Dutchman finishing from the left past the keeper. And in a very similar fashion, this time, Andrei Arshavin leading the line, Cesc again the instigator, it was 3-2 before the break.
Now, if you haven’t watched the game, I really implore you to somehow find the game, on the net, on re-run on ESPN or Sky, even just the highlights on Arsenal TV, it will be worthwhile doing so, because this was one of our best performances of the season and the second half was just sublime – an honour to be a part of… we had a lot of chances in the second half and confidence was very high… and we did indeed manage to score 3 more goals.
The first of the second half and fourth of the tie effectively sealed the game and it was the man of the match, Cesc Fabregas who scored it – left footed, from 20+ yards into the back of the net after some really expansive play and an overhead pass from Arshavin. A deserved goal for our captain and right in front of the visiting Thierry Henry whose presence made it a very special day all round.
The fifth game from a sublime counter attack when Cesc laid it on a plate for Theo Walcott (who came on as a sub) and taking the ball in his stride at pace, he placed it in the bottom left hand corner.
It was good to see Walcott back in action, as our injured players are returning, we are suddenly seeing the strength in depth that we have… And the England International singled out Cesc Fabregas for praise as he said:
“If he plays like he did against Blackburn, nobody will be able to stop him this season. He is fantastic to play with. He is still so young and he has a lot of pressure on his shoulders but he is a fantastic person to learn from. He played the ball to me for my goal and I didn’t have to break my stride. That’s how good he is. It’s difficult to play amazingly well throughout the whole season. He is only 22 but he has been around for a very long time. He is our captain and he is doing a great job.”
And then there was the excellent individual effort from fellow substitute Niklas Bendtner who received the ball on the left of midfield and cut in (pro-evo style) to hit the ball past the defence and the keeper from outside the box. Yes, it could have been 7 or 8 or 9 goals to the good, but all in all 6 was an impressive performance.
Arsene Wenger had this to say after the game, firstly on Cesc:
“I felt he had already given a good performance on Tuesday night too. He started a little less sharp physically but in the last two or three games he has become stronger and stronger. We know that in every game he creates chances. What is important for him – what he misses – is to score goals and today he scored as well so that’s a relief for him certainly. I have seen him play a few good games. When we go forward as a whole team we always look like we could score and when you look he is always in the middle of it, at the start or at the end. A team goes always naturally through its strong points, the way of the game. So it goes, therefore, through Fabregas.”
And of course, the appearance of Thierry in the crowd did seem to galvanise the team:
“Thierry inspired today our goalscoring because they wanted certainly to show Thierry they can score goals and they are good followers of him. It is good to see him back here although I believe he belongs more to Highbury than to Emirates because certainly, coming back to Highbury, would have more memories than here but we are happy to have him with us. He would have scored today certainly
Okay guys, I’ll leave you to it for now… great performance by the team and a happy International break to go into…