Report: Arsenal 6-2 Blackburn
Wenger’s 13th anniversary was celebrated with a football classic which saw six different brilliant scorers in a 6-2 rout of Blackburn.
This had been the fitting fixture to Arsene’s special day and the sort of performance his boys produced matched the philosophy he has guided so well in his reign; making the difference with precise attacking rather than defending, since outscoring the opponent matters most.
Former Gunner Thierry Henry chose today to make his Emirates Stadium reunion, and after receiving a darling’s reception from the crowd, he would be treated to an event exceeding what he had bargained for.
Eboue out for Sagna was the only change in Wenger’s line-up and with everyone in anniversary mood, you sensed it had to be one of those flawless contests for Arsenal.
But Rovers only took four minutes to announce they were definitely against that perfect script.
Paul Robinson punted a long free kick from his territory into Arsenal’s, Steven Nzonzi somehow won a deep header over the often alert Vermaelen and Vito Mannone was beaten with a chip.
Arsenal then began an onslaught as expected and with Blackburn determined to keep door shut for a ‘hit and run’ victory, it could have been one of those days had Vermaelen not stepped up exceptionally.
Like his second against Wigan in Arsenal’s last home game, the Belgian surged from defense, collected a pass and whipped a curler home from about 30-yards-out.
Arsenal had given a firm response, but there were more questions to come from Allardyce’s men.
The visitors counter-attacked in the 31st minute, David Dunn met Gallas one-on-one just on the edge of area and he managed to force a wicked deflection from Arsenal’s defender to leave Mannone stranded.
After having to level matters earlier on, Arsenal certainly knew how to bounce back again and they did so in immediate fashion as Fabregas found Van Persie on his way into the box. The Dutchman’s finish was as clever as the pass he received.
Fabregas turned provider again in a similar move on 37 minutes; this time teeing up Arshavin who gave Arsenal the lead for once with aplomb.
There was one man who had done nothing else but the job of a midfield maestro today and after twice being denied yet another sharp pass from just outside the box in the 57th minute, Fabregas rebounded possession with a left-footed rocket which caught Robinson – and almost everyone around – by surprise.
Then came the substitution of the day as Rosicky was replaced by Walcott who had been missing all season due to injury. And after a slick counter-attack spearheaded by Arshavin and assisted by Fabregas, Walcott marked his return with a dream finish to make it 5-2.
Talking of dream finishes, Nicklas Bendtner also had one in him since the expert Thierry Henry was watching. The young Dane controlled a long ball on the left, weaved his way from 20-yards out and lashed home a ferocious effort.
That was that. Football at its absolute best!