Match Reaction: Arsenal 6-2 Blackburn
By Karl M. Tinsley
MY 3 STARS
#1. CESC FABREGAS: When a player takes up half a page of my game notes with positive comments…its a no-brainer he is the First Star.
Cesc brought it hard and brought it often the entire time he was on the pitch. He began his onslaught on the Blackburn net by being on the recieving end of a curling cross served up by Arshavin. His looping header had Robinson clearly beaten…only to be cruelly denied by the woodwork (crossbar).Cesc followed that effort up with a couple of dangerous drives on net that caused Robinson troubles and showed he was really getting his stroke over with menace and intent.
Soon came the nice back pass to the on-charging Vermaelen who crushed it home with a laser beam strike. The two through balls he served up in rapid succession to Robin and Andriy were both beautifully weighted to pick them out in stride, and give them time/space to finish with ease…and announcing to the world the “magic-man” was back in full effect and wrecking shop!!.Later on in the first half he delivered an excellent angled header low to the far post off a goregous curling cross from the outside of Rosicky’s left boot that took Robinson going full stretch to get a block on and his defender to clear away at the last instant.
All in a half’s work for the Spaniard magician. The second half saw him demonstrating his committment to defence when he hustled all the way back deep into our half to bail out Gallas who was struggling to contain the Blackburn attacker.Talk about getting it done at both ends of the pitch!!. Later on he served up a delicate chip to pick out Robin in tight inside the Blackburn 6 yard box…only for Robinson to smother the Dutchman’s effort. His immaculate half-volley off the bicycle kick feed from Rosicky was MASTER CLASS…and the celebration brought chills to all Gooner faithful as “El Capitan” kissed the badge repeatedly while pointing to the faithful in attendance.
The coup de gras was another delicious ball he sent into the path of the charging Walcott to finish with cool calm precision. Stop the massacre 🙂 and Wenger did by bringing him off at 76 minutes…4 assists and a goal…a match for the ages from the young Spaniard.
#2. ROBIN VAN PERSIE: On any other day…Robin walks away with the First Star but not today…it was truly Cesc’s show tonight. Robin demonstrated a nice early committment to defence with his tracking back hard to harry the Blackburn midfielder after having coughed up the ball to his opponent. Love to see that defensive fire from Robin because it is always an indicator he is fully switched on for the match. He worked some lovely 1-2’s with Tomas and was dropping deep early to get himself those all important early touches and to spread the ball around in attack.
Certainly the Dutchman was fired up by the presence of The King in attendance…loved to see him go in hard and bang bodies with Chimbonda early on…signalling his intent to fight for every loose ball and half chance this match. Showed good hustle in pouncing on that greasy rebound left by Robinson off of Cesc’s low rasping drive and was only denied by the finger tips of the Blackburn stopper. His goal featured a beautifully timed run that split open the Blackburn line and the quality of the through ball from Cesc provided Robin the opportunity to serve up a clinical finish with that exquisite left foot…MONEY!!.
In the second half he was unlucky not to find the net when Cesc picked him out all alone in the 6 yard box, only to be smothered by the on-rushing Robinson.
#3. ANDRIY ARSHAVIN: The “Russian Schemer” was in full flight again this match…showing no signs of the groin injury that had slowed him a couple weeks ago. He was doing his usual routine of slashing dribbles into space, drawing defenders and dishing, serving up pinpoint crosses or lacing the ball goalwards. He served up a lovely curled ball to Cesc at the back post early on that came an inch or two from knotting up the score.
I noticed that his dangerous shot/cross that he flashed across the face of the net in the first half went completely begging (not for the first time) and it highlighted the need for our attackers to make deep runs to the net and to finish off those runs strong…the play is never over with Arshavin and no matter how tight the angle…he will find you at the far post. His finish is what we have come to expect…a class finish…with him taking a quick peek in stride, settling his weight over the ball and burying his shot into the back of the net!!. Was there ever any doubt!?!?.
THOMAS VERMAELEN: His goal was not the type of goal you see often scored by a defender (outside of Roberto Carlos in his prime). It featured a deep run to the top of the 18 yard box, a sweet first touch that opened up a channel for him to serve up a bullet drive and an absolute clinical finish. “Super-Stella” REPRESENT!. The guy’s play has really and truly been off the charts to start this season. He makes Wenger look more brilliant each and everyday.
IF Cesc does decide to leave…Vermaelen would be an excellent candidate to replace him as our Captain. On the defensive side of the ball I was overjoyed to see him going in strong on those two rat bastards Dunn and Diouf and chop them down with a real edge to his game. PROPER!
TOMAS ROSICKY: “Helmet Hair” continued his nice run of competitive matches. Began the match working intricate 1-2’s with Robin and flashed some real skill and vision with his side flick to pick out Gael Clichy’s (early on) overlap run down the left flank that left the Blackburn defenders completely flat-footed and sparked an attack on goal. Later in the first half he delivered a goregous curled cross with the outside of his left foot that was perfectly weighted and led to a quality header on net by Cesc.
I like that he showed the confidence to have a go on net with his shot in the first and second halves. Finally, his lovely measured bicycle kick to pick out Cesc for his goal was a real thing of beauty and reminded us Gooners of the skills he has in his bag of tricks. Glad to see Wenger get him off at 69 mins and protect his legs.
VITO MANNONE: I just love how this kid reacts to adversity a la Standard Liege and now with those 2 ridiculously flukey goals by Blackburn to start the first half. The dude just exudes confidence and some serious presence. There is no hanging the head or hysterical slagging off of his defenders…he just picks himself up, dusts himself off and ratchets up the concentration level even higher. I am really really stoked on this kids future.
He is exactly what we’ve been missing since the gravy days of “Crazy Jens”. After the second goal he kept Blackburn at bay with a great diving stop to tip the ball around the far post in the first half and early in the second half stood tall and strong to block/parry a nasty hard drive on net. Well done Vito!!.
THIERRY HENRY: Just super fantastic to see “The King” come back to fete Arsene Wenger for his record breaking match. That was a class move all the way around and just shows that while his brain is at the Camp Nou…his heart forever remains at The Emirates. You’ll never be forgotten at the “House Henry Built”. Haters take note.
WILLIAM GALLAS: Didn’t do a decent job going up strong on the first goal by Blackburns Nzonzi. Granted it was a ridiculously lucky seeing-eye goal but still…we shouldn’t be giving up free headers in our box off FK’s from 60+ yards out. That was criminal defending. Later in the first half he hung Mannone out to dry when he dillied and dallied over what he was going to do with that deep Blackburn punt to the edge of our 18 yard box and in the process allowed Dunn to clatter into Mannone and throw an “excuse-me” cheap shot elbow to Mannone’s head.
Willy is the veteran player and he needed to take charge of that ball and help out his young rookier ‘keeper. Early in the 2nd half he was struggling with the pace and physicality of the Blackburn attacker and required a deep defensive run by Cesc to pull his ass out of the fire. I believe it was just a one-off match for Gallas in an otherwise very positive season. I give him a pass on the second goal because it was the unluckiest of deflections into our net…but Willy “G” doesn’t get a pass on his overall play today. Needs to do better.
It was a match for the ages…a truly top shelf, vintage performance worthy of “The Invincibles” pedigree!. The one touch passing, the lightning counter-attacks and clinical finishing…its what i have been crying out for a return to for the last 2-3 seasons. It felt so joyful to watch the team express their talents in such a way and to the fullest of their abilities. Cesc’s performance was EPIC and the timing of it and his reaction to the faithful and crest were truly a joy to witness. When the triumvirate of Cesc, Robin and Arshavin are on their game…this Club can elevate its game to Barca like levels of artistry and attack.
With “Super-Stella” chipping in regularily and making an excellent partnership with Gallas at the back and Mannone becoming a revelation between the sticks…I got a super cool feeling for the success of the Club this season…God forbidding any catastrophic injuries at CB (please Boss…address the need in January).
I said it was “moving day” this weekend in the Prem League and we certainly took care of our business and have moved up the ladder. Just need to keep our noses clean the next couple of matches, hope for no new injuries from International Break and then deliver the beat down to Tottenham at the end of the month. One match at a time though. Glorious day to be a Gooner.
As always I remain…
Guns In Guns Out