Arsenal 6-2 Blackburn; Sam Allardyce Comes Up Craps

Hey Sam, got any gum?

Preamble

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!

Match Reports

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.

Match Video

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!

The Good

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.

The Bad

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!

The Ugly

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.

Conclusions

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.

Oh joy.

See you tomorrow!

41 Comments on Arsenal 6-2 Blackburn; Sam Allardyce Comes Up Craps

  1. AB-SO-LUTELY FANTASTIC!

    Amazingly ruthless display from the boys today, great passing, great finishing. Wonderful to see Henry in the stands, could have been double digits there!

    Obviously Fabregas was great, as were Arshavin, van Persie, Rosicky et al, but I was also really impressed with Song and Ramsey’s play. And What about Walcott’s finish!?

    • Agree, Ramsey was very impressive, good to see as he had a relatively anonymous game in the Carling; definitely MOTM (subs section).

  2. Cesc is rampant.

    I think Nasri will push everyone in the team a bit further when he comes back with Rosicky challenging for a winger spot, we might just see the owlish fellow moving about with some purpose. Or, not. Arshavin makes Berbatov look like a sprinter sometimes.
    This team might have the opposite problem of last year’s, we could be especially vulnerable against top 4 teams. Chelsea isn’t going to ship 6 goals. Whatever, who cares, Fado looks like a terrific spot. Nothing like it in the middle of the middlewest. Onward Tim, onward Gunners.

  3. A shout out to Rosicky as well. Had Fabregas scored the header of Rosicky’s pass that would quite easily have been one of the assists of the season. He seems to play almost effortlessly!!

    • No! You cannot fault Diaby today. It is unfair to even suggest that he played any less than anyone. He linked with the rest beautifully. Kudos to everyone of them.

      • @LRV, Disagree with that one. I think he was still out of sorts giving away possession. He seemed to however gain in confidence in the last 10 mins. He’s definitely short of confidence (and thats exactly why Arsene persists with him. To help him get his confidence back)

        • @Akash: Believe me, I was there. I think you are over critical of him because of past perception. He linked very well, ask anyone who saw it live at the stadium.

  4. It was a bigger glint in Le Boss’s eye than I imagined!

    By the way, Chelski and Liverpiddle were crap!

    Viva!

    • @viva los gooners, Yes. But Chel$ki were crap footballistically under Mourinho, and still won. They are still in the driving seat, Liverpuddle, however are buggered until their players get back from injury.

  5. Hey Tim,

    I am surprised you didn’t mention Cesc’s badge kiss…I think that was a direct reply to Xavi’s comments and hopefully will quiet down the “Fabregas to Barca” stories over the Interlull..

    We have seen hollow badge kisses before, but this one really didn’t feel like that. It felt like he was making a statement to the supporters.

  6. Thought Diaby’s play contributed to are flowing attack. This was his first match where his first instincts were to link play and not dribble.

    Arsenal played with so much confidence, even when behind. Unlike the past, there is so much movement in midfield and by our upfront players, we are seeing superb scoring chances ‘almost’ every time we attack.

    • @arsesession, I didn’t think Diaby was all that bad myself. I think Wenger’s “gambles” have been coming right lately, what with Song and Denilson seeming to come into their own, so chances are Diaby will at some point too.

      Still, with the way Ramse played when he came on, I can’t even imagine what kind of creative engine we’d have with him and Fabregas and Rosicky and Arshavin pulling the strings.

  7. After we went down 1-0, I said to myself, uh oh, shades of Olympiacos. I also said, Blackburn now you’ve done it, you’ve made us mad and now we will be focused. Were we ever. Vermaelen was so angry when he scored that goal that he didn’t even want to celebrate, he just wanted to get on w/ it. RVP’s celebration seemed cursory as well as he also wanted to get back to the fray.

    MOTM: who else but Fabregas. He should also be player of the week and player of the mo and we’re only in the 1st week.

    Do we mention Diaby. That’s enough on that topic.

    Mannone should be the #1 for me. I’d like to see some PK saves though before we award him the gloves. PK saves, what say you Allardyce about that. Remember, respect is the word.

    As long as he creates and scores, I guess we’ll tolerate Arshavin’s ‘Henry’ act. As long as everyone else keeps a level head and doesn’t mimic him.

    Was it just me who lip read the woman w/ Henry saying, “who was that?” after Fabregas scored that wondrous volley.

    Dunne, don’t you feel like an ass? There you are running our GK while your side is being castrated. If you were sending us a message (from Allardyce), it got lost in the goal celebrations.

    Thank you Sunderland. Thank you Burnley.

    I said Carragher was done. Today Drogba made him look like a used condom.

    • I thought the woman looked Spanish, to judge from her clothes, in which case she’d probably know who it was and could be Barca fan commenting on the badge kiss.

        • Humph. More humilation for hideous fat walrus!

          Good news – at least for us – Walcott has not been selected for the pointless games against Ukraine and Belarus.

    • Ctpa: Diaby linked well today. I was there. I saw it all. Good play all round. One or two mistakes here or there, that’s ok. They are not infallible, but very exhilirating performance all round.

      • @LRV, good observation about Diaby……his focus was pass & move and not dribble and more dribble;

        thus feel our attacks maintained momentum, not suffering their usual breakdown once he received the ball.

      • @LRV, I’m glad you can bring positives things about Diaby’s play because I am pulling for him to ‘get’ what Wenger is trying to do offensively.

  8. I don’t think Arshavin is going to change, and as long as he keeps producing i don’t mind him being lazy with the backtracking. Just make sure Clichy knows not to rush forward as much (pace aside, his runs don’t produce much anyway) and we’ll be fine.

    In spite of all the goals, the moment of the game for me was that godlike cross from Rosicky to Fabregas. Rosicky actually looks like he might not get injured right away, and he could make a huge difference in the title fight if only for the fact that Cesc can now be rested without a dramatic drop in quality. I haven’t really been counting on him for this season until now, but on his day he’s easily one of the best midfielders in the league and having him back full time would be massive.

  9. Great match, great write-up….I’m sure Tim is saving a few topics (“Mozart’s Not Ready for His Requiem, just yet,” “Cesc gives Ade a Lesson in the Badge Kiss,” etc.) for the international break….

    Seemed to me that Blackburn were more or less afraid to put in their usual dose of bad challenges as we now have so many players who can receive a ball with intent, i.e., ready to turn with it or run onto it or (as RVP & Arshavin did) shoot it, first touch. In this group you’ve got to include Song and Diaby as well as both central defenders. Only the full-backs are a little slow in thinking forward as they get the ball. Our little guys are also pretty tough for their size (esp Arshavin & Rosicky) which might also make “park the bus” teams less eager for a melee.

    I hate to see us concede early or have trouble breaking a nil-nil scoreline, but I’m gaining more and more confidence in this set of players and fearing the negative teams less and less.

  10. An awesome all around performance today. Let’s face it, that first Blackburn goal was a fluke. The guy had his back turned towards goal FFS! Last night my buddy and I were discussing that Cesc has been looking uninspiring at times this season and I am extremely happy to see him back performing at the level where we are used to see him performing. RVP and Rosicky were nothing short of brilliant and I could tell that Rosicky really wanted to get his name on the score sheet as well towards the end. Save it for the Spurs Tomas! Even Diaby didn’t put in one wrong foot forward today – and for me, that’s saying a lot! We showed great character in coming back twice. The occasional loss of defensive focus, while disappointing, is not unusual. We tend to do that whenever we play weaker teams. For me, this was our most convincing win of the season. The quality of the goals and the spirit of the team was really impressive. Now if only Liverpool could have had a draw at Stamford Bridge, it would have been a perfect weekend!

  11. That Arsenalist site is ridiculous. I just spend the last three hours there going through old highlights.

  12. Usually when a player kisses the badge of a football club it makes me cringe/because nine times out of ten that player doesn’t mean it really. It’s for show. Now with Cesc we all know that he does mean it. He truly truly truly loves Arsenal and us Gooners. He has a close bond with us like Thierry Henry still does to this very day and probably will have for the future. There was slight criticism towards Cesc recently from some Gooners. I know because I was one of those Gooners. I didn’t slaughter him, I never would, but I admit that I believed that he had his head turned slightly and he needed to sort it out. Well, he has shut me up! It must be frustrating for him to be asked the same questions all the time about Barcelona or Real Madrid but the best way for him to answer is to perform like he did yesterday. He was immense. I’m sure there will be a time that Cesc eventually does go home to Spain, none of us would begrudge him that, but nobody could say that he isn’t loyal. And I thought that loyalty is out of the game these days? It’s refreshing to see. I’ve heard people say that foreign players will never be loyal to a club in another country, well Arsenal have proved that notion in the ocean wrong. We have/had loads of players from other countries that have been at the club for donkeys years and that is something to be proud of. Cesc is a special person and player. I apologise wholeheartedly for even half-thinking that he had his head turned

  13. The main difference this season is that we are not reliant on a single striker anymore, with 15 different goalscorers already on target.There is no question that the 4-3-3 with interchangable players is bemusing the opposition though this will always have the possibility of being caught on the counter attack. I think Cesc gave the performance of any one footbaler in the PL so far this season, as in Arshavin,Rosicky and RVP and Nasri and Eduardo to come back,he can play with truly great players who understand his thought process. Vermaelen is a revelation and really is an attacking defender and his one and only slip which led to the first goal was abruptly pushed aside by his wonder goal.His partnership with Gallas is now quite impressive and my only concern is that have we got sufficent cover for either of them. Song is still prone to the odd mistake,again mainly when tracking back, but he is improving dramatically. Then there is Diaby,who though he had a reasonable game showed he is not in the same class as our players mentioned above who played alongside Cesc. Competition for places is what we need and Bedntner,Theo and Vela now have a benchmark to really establish themselves as an alternative. Manonne never ever expected to play this season,and he is a rookie and can only give his best. I heard that Almunia and his wife have personal issues and she wants to go back to Spain and that Denilson may be out for the whole season, as a chipped bone in one’s back is no laughing matter. Finally, I think the club did not organize very well the appearance of TH14 as most who were not in their seats were caught unaware as to his presence.Nevertheless the reception he got was tremendous.Don’t write us off, just yet.

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