Arsenal 6-2 Blackburn Rovers: Sixy Football Takes Over At The Emirates
Arsenal overcame an early deficit to rack up an incredible 6-2 win at home to a Blackburn Rovers side who ended the game in disarray.
With six different scorers, the home side delighted their support with a display that grew in confidence as the afternoon wore on.
Goals from Thomas Vermaelen, Robin van Persie, Andriy Arshavin, Cesc Fabregas, the returning Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner completed what turned into a comprehensive rout.
The loss for Rovers continued manager Sam Allardyce’s run of having never won a game against Arsenal on his travels.
It was less than four minutes in before Blackburn took a surprise lead though, as Stephen Nzonzi met Paul Robinson’s long free-kick with a header that looped over Vito Mannone and in off the underside of the crossbar.
The home side took control of the game shortly after however and came close to levelling twice in quick succession, with Andriy Arshavin at the fore.
First, the Russian expertly lifted a cross onto the head of an unmarked Cesc Fabregas as the captain failed to generate power and hit the crossbar, before firing a half-volley of his own across Robinson’s goal.
16 minutes in though, Arsenal had the equaliser that had felt so imminent since they fell behind through Vermaelen. The centre back received the ball 20 yards from goal from Fabregas after some smart dribbling from Alex Song, and fired into Robinson’s bottom left hand corner.
Fabregas could have put Arsenal ahead shortly after with a stinging low drive that forced Robinson into a parry, with the rest of the side failing to follow up.
Shortly after Fabregas tested Robinson again in similar fashion, Blackburn broke on the counter attack and again took the lead on the half hour mark, as David Dunn arrived in the penalty area and saw his shot deflected off William Gallas, wrong footing Mannone in the process.
The visitors’ lead lasted just two minutes though, as Arsenal again responded. Fabregas exchanged passes in midfield with Abou Diaby, before playing a perfectly weighted through ball to van Persie, who emphatically blasted low across goal, past a helpless Robinson.
Five minutes later, Arsenal had the lead for the first time in the half, as Fabregas was again pivotal in the move, gathering the ball after two Rovers defenders failed to clear, feeding the ever-lively Arshavin, who stroked home with aplomb.
The Spaniard had the opportunity to put his own name on the score sheet in the closing stages of the half as Thomas Rosicky lifted the ball onto his head with the outside of his foot, but Robinson again came to the rescue with a superb stop.
After the interval, Blackburn had a penalty appeal turned down as Dunn went over Vermaelen’s leg after jinking past William Gallas, and Mannone was called into action in the same spell as a well-struck goal-bound volley from Martin Olsson was palmed away.
Arsenal continued in similar style after a few shaky moments, as the trio of Fabregas, van Persie and Arshavin continued to pull the strings and orchestrate chances for each other, with Robinson keeping them at bay.
There was little the former Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper could do about Arsenal’s fourth goal however, as he was rooted to the spot when Fabregas finally converted, chesting down Rosicky’s pass before firing home on the half-volley.
Any threat of Blackburn clawing their way back into the game appeared to be subsiding as Rosicky twice struck at goal, until second half substitute David Hoilett volleyed at goal from close range, but was only able to find the post as Vermaelen got the slightest of touches.
Rovers’ chances were well and truly put to rest however, as Theo Walcott, returning to action in the second half after a back injury, slotted past Robinson after finding himself unmarked on the right.
With less than 15 minutes to go, Aaron Ramsey came on in place of the wonderful Fabregas, who received a standing ovation for his outstanding contribution, but it was Walcott who was gifted the opportunity to add a sixth, beating the offside trap through the heart of the defence before Robinson’s block weakened the shot and Gael Givet cleared.
In the closing stages of normal time, another substitute, Nicklas Bendtner, hit the sixth for Arsenal with a well-taken effort, to leave manager Arsene Wenger with a result to savour during the week of his13th year in charge of the club.