Lovely start to the morning. Sure, I had to drive 70 miles round trip, at 4:30am, and brave the gauntlet of cops who have lined up along the freeway to catch speeders and keep Washington state from going bankrupt, but it was well worth it.
I can’t say enough nice things about Fado. Lovely little pub, with all the nooks and crannies you’d expect from a traditional English or Irish pub, including more than one room for more than one sports fan to watch their own game in relative silence. To give you an idea of what it was like, three Arsenal supporters were in one room, while 15 or so Celtic and Rangers supporters watched the Old Firm match in the other room and aside from the occasionally comical scream of “THAT WAS A FOOKEN’ PEEANALTIE!” we were rarely bothered by each other. Lovely pub, lovely details, lovely staff, and they even had blood pudding on the menu for their “Full Irish” breakfast — which at $20 after tax and tip was a bit steep and my only complaint.
Great start to the morning, and I didn’t even get stabbed by the Celtic supporters for wearing my Eduardo shirt. That and two other Arsenal fans showed up, one, a reader of the blog who knew me by name and the other some fellow I never met before. That’s not a bad turnout for 5:30 am!
ESPNSoccernet: Fabregas dismantles rovers.
Telegraph: Arsenal underlined their status as the Premier League’s great entertainers this afternoon by recovering from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to ultimately inflict a resounding 6-2 defeat on Blackburn Rovers.
The Arsenalist gets stuck in early today and has all 8 goals, plus Wenger’s post match interview, all hot and ready for you to view. Remember, click one of his sponsors!
There’s so much good to say about a match in which we see Arsenal score 6 goals from 6 different goal scorers, each of which was special in its own way, we got to see the triumphant return of Theo Walcott, no one was injured despite David Dunn’s best efforts, and even Thierry Henry returned to the club.
Vermaelen, van Persie, Arshavin, Fabregas, Walcott, and Bendtner; those are the 6 names who put goals past this supposedly defensive-minded Blackburn side. But it’s not just the incredible fact that Arsenal had 6 goals from 6 different players, because when you look at it, Arsenal have now had 15 different goal-scorers on the season. It’s the fact that Arsenal are top of the league in goals scored (24 in 7 matches) and top of the league in goal differential (+14). I know a lot of you will point out that we are middle of the table in goals allowed and that we have a tendency to leak goals and you’d be dead right to do so. But, clearly the philosophy of this third generation Arsene Wenger team is to attack from all parts of the pitch and love it or hate it, that’s what this team is going to serve up as entertainment this year. Personally, I don’t know how you could hate it, we just put 6 past a “park the bus team.” A team who had they taken an early 1-0 or 2-1 lead last year we would have really struggled to get even a single point, much less all three plus a 6 goal lashing.
From Vermaelen’s left-footed angry lash to bring us level to Walcott’s special finish just minutes after being re-introduced from a long injury layoff, each of these goals today were really special. I don’t want to talk too much about them, you really just need to go over to the Arsenalist and watch them. Cesc’s left footed, half-volley, perfectly placed finish was probably my favorite goal of the day, but I’ll let you all battle that one out, I’m sure you all have a fave.
And finally, it was really special to see Thierry Henry at the Emirates, with his daughter, enjoying the show. He said that one day he’d be back, little did we know that he meant this Sunday.
Man of the Match
With 4 assists, the best goal of the match, and a box-to-box solid performance, man of the match has to go to Cesc Fabregas. It was just Friday when Wenger called on the team captain to lead this club to the promised land, and if this performance was his response, the league better beware because he was simply brilliant. Pulling the strings from all over the pitch, his passes were incisive, slicing apart Blackburn’s defense easily time and again. More importantly, I never once failed to see him track back.
There are lots of honorable mentions here, van Persie was brilliant and Thomas Vermaelen was outstanding on both ends of the pitch, at one point making two headed saves over a few seconds time, but surely on the back of that performance today, Cesc has to win man of the match.
I don’t like lazy play. A Sunday 5 a side pick up match, sure, have a breather, who cares, but when you are paid millions of dollars to play football you should pitch in at all times. Andrei Arshavin has publicly admitted that he is lazy and of course, I don’t want to get down on any player at all this season, much less after a 6-2 win but there were times when Arshavin wasn’t just lazy, he was downright quiescent. For all the brilliant things he does I’d hate to see his reputation tarnished by lazy plays like the pass he refused to move for and let David Dunn nip in and nearly get a goal. It’s a team sport and that’s even more true in the 4-3-3 which requires players like him to get back and defend. Get back, Andrei, and stop glowering at your teammates.
Similarly, I don’t think we’re a poor defensive squad. Certainly not as poor as our 10 goals against tally suggests. But I do think that we are a club who lose focus at times and that tendency was fully on display today. Even against a team like Blackburn where we are dominating them offensively, you cannot let your mind wander off to what you and the missus are going to have for dinner tonight or they will score on you. I think that happened more than once, and honestly, I think Blackburn had a legitimate penalty call when both Gallas and Vermaelen took leave of their senses and instead of playing defense gambled on a silly stab at the ball in the box.
We’re better than that. They’re better than that! These are experienced defenders for gods’ sake, lets not make silly mistakes!
David Dunn was a lucky boy he wasn’t sent off for his rash challenge on Mannone. He saw Mannone coming for the ball and instead of playing the ball, chose to leap up, leading with a knee and the only reason he wasn’t sent off was because Mannone came up a bit groggy but not too terribly injured.
Ugly bit of football, but no less than I’ve come to expect from David Dunn. The only surprise was that it wasn’t El Hadji Diouf pulling the ugly challenge.
Like I said, wonderful day, wonderful win and now we head into international week, and endure non-stop coverage of Cesc Fabregas’ supposedly impending move to Barcelona in January.
See you tomorrow!