Gooner Reaction: Blackburn vs Arsenal
By Karl M. Tinsley
#1. THEO WALCOTT: Got his name on the score sheet for the second match in a row and seems to figured out how to USE his pace much more effectively.
Early in the match he made a lovely timed run to give Van Persie options on the right flank and was rewarded for his new found attacking nous with a superbly weighted ball played that he was able to attack full bore and deliver a clinical shot low to the far corner that actually tore the netting. Impressive!!.
Later in the first half he turned his defender (LB) cleverly and left him for dead with his pace to get on the end of a chipped ball down his flank…only the timely intervention of the Blackburn CB thwarted his cross BUT he did win a corner for his efforts. Showed a battling spirit against the Blackburn defenders when he took on the much bigger man Ryan Nelsen, shrugged off his tackle and won another corner…love to see that type of aggression from the lad.
In the second half he was again getting in the mix by making slashing runs into the middle, which opened up the space for Sagna to make that tremendous run into space down the right flank and eventually pick out Cesc. And it was Theo’s backside that deflected Cesc’s drive to the on charging Arshavin for the second goal. He continued to run at the Blackburn defenders in the second half, demonstrating A LOT more confidence on the ball.
Dare I say it Theo is gradually putting together some good performances. Keep it up lad…with Robin dinged up and Chamakh still settling in…we’ll need Walcott’s production to continue in the coming weeks.
#2. ANDREI ARSHAVIN: As with Walcott, “The Russian Schemer” produced another inspired and influential match for the Gunners. His quick feet, vision and lovely passing boots allowed him to dance away from his marker and pick out Robin in traffic, who then fed the lovely angled ball to allow Walcott a clear run on net and our first goal.
Text book stuff from the Russian. He collected the second goal of the match and his second in as many matches when he pounced on Cesc’s deflected shot, kept his nerve and his head up to calmly slot home past the on-charging Robinson ‘keeper and through a maze of Blackburn defenders. Brilliant finish. After a tepid start to the season against Liverpool, Andrei is showing his true value to The Gunner cause. Well done Andrei…keep it going.
#3. BACARY SAGNA: On the offensive side of the ball “Blondie Dread” had himself a terrific match. He looked inspired with his many foraging runs down the right flank and did a whole lot better getting his crosses over and passes on target. Showed off his pace when he hustled hard to get on the end of Chamakh’s pass out to the right flank and continue to drive hard to the 18 yard box where he delivered the killer pass to pick out the trailing Fabregas at the top of the 18 yard box.
Cesc’s rasping drive was only prevented from finding the back of the net by Walcott’s backside…but the deflection fell kindly to Arshavin who finished clinically. However, on the defensive side of the ball I noticed him caught up field and out of position. He was completely AWOL at 35 mins…leaving Koscielny the unenviable task of trying to take on El Hadji Diouf in full flight. Again at 48 mins he left Koscielny exposed only this time the French-Pole was able to close his man down.
Sagna did redeem himself later with a tremendous tracking run to the middle of our 18 yard box where he sacrificed his body to make a last second clearance. That said, when playing with Walcott in front of him…Sagna needs to be more conservative with the number of forward runs he makes…because Walcott doesn’t have that seamless defensive chemistry/understanding with Sagna that Eboue possesses. Until Koscielny has fully acclimatized to the pace and power of the EPL…Sagna needs to do a bit more of baby-sitting of the young French-Pole.
ALEXANDRE SONG: It was interesting to read some of the on-line criticism of Song’s performance by my fellow Gooners. Sometimes we just see things a lot differently. First off…PROPS to the new haircut…the Natty Dreadlocks were starting to get a bit much. I felt he battled extremely hard all match and won nearly every 50/50 ball and numerous challenges.
I felt he was a beast in the middle all match and did so without picking up any yellow cards…nice controlled aggression from the Cameroonian…particularly on a day when Cesc was not in good form and Song had much more work than usual to do in order to control the midfield.
LAURENT KOSCIELNY: While it is true that Sagna did leave him exposed on several occasions…Koscielny needs to demonstrate a better understanding of the pace and power of the EPL. Mid-way through the first half he was slapped aside like a rag doll by El Hadji Diouf who rounded him with ease and proceeded to pick out the wide-open Mame Biram Diouf for the easiest of tap-ins.
Later in the second half he looked very weak and with poor body control when he collapsed while trying to mark David Dunn at the top of our 18 yard box…and gifting Blackburn a quality chance to draw level at 2 goals apiece.
Granted Blackburn are a mid-table Club…but i felt the squad did a decent job in its first real test of aerial bombardments into our 18 yard box, Route One footie and of course a good ol’ English kicking. It was far from master class defending BUT it wasn’t chicken with its head cut-off stuff we have seen in the past against these type of tactics. The lads showed a good determination to take all 3 pts and to defend with passion. Now we have 2 weeks to heal up, begin integrating Squillaci into the squad and give Koscielny and Chamakh a bit more time to settle into the squad.
Next match will be against Bolton at home and they should provide a similar type of challenge as Blackburn Rovers. With Arshavin and Walcott scoring and the best yet to come from Cesc and Robin…i feel a quiet sense of confidence building around the Club. Love to see a quality ‘keeper brought in before the window closes…but we’ll have to wait to see how that all shakes out in the next 24-36 hours. Can’t wait until September 11 and the renewal of the football that TRULY matters…Club Football.
GUNS IN GUNS OUT