Monday, September 19, 2011

And...Two Steps Back, Arsenal 3-4 Blackburn

It was a dark and dreary day at Ewood Park, much like the football fortunes of Arsenal as of late.  The Arsenal attack showed some real promise, having nearly pulled level in stoppage time.  However, two own goals was simply too much to overcome for the visitors.

On paper, it looked to be a simple confidence building exercise for the Gunners.  Blackburn were dead last in the table and Arsenal were fresh off a frustrating but solid draw at Dortmund in the midweek.  Things were beginning to look up and the first half reflected such.  With only ten minutes gone, Gervinho scored a brilliant goal.  Opting for touch over power, the Ivorian slid a trickling ball past the keeper inside the far post.  Almost a mirror image of the previous strike, Blackburn's Yakubu delivered a creeping ball past Szczesny to pull the hosts level.  Arsenal maintained possession and pulled in front once again.  Ramsey found room on the right of the final third and picked out Arteta in the box.  The Spaniard punched the ball high into the roof of the next.  The Gunners now played with intent and sought to kill off the fixture.  Try as they might, the two goal lead evaded them going into the break.

The second half seemed extracted from an entirely different game and the Arsenal squad looked an entirely different team.  Within four minutes, Blackburn were chomping at the bit having equalized for the second time.  A deep foul allowed the hosts a well placed free kick and an indifferent Arsenal defense watched the ball come off Song's knee and go quietly into their own net.  Before the hour mark, Blackburn pulled ahead as Yakubu netted his second on the day.  While replays certainly indicated the Rover man was offside, it doesn't really matter if the line judge didn't call it.  Arsenal responded immediately, but the offensive led to a Rover's counterattack...which led to another Arsenal own goal.  Blame it on the weather, blame it on the new signings and team chemistry, it doesn't matter what you blame it on: there is never an excuse for two own goals.  To their credit, the Gunners responded well.  Song made way for Chamakh and he found the net after four minutes.  A lifted cross from Van Persie was all he needed to push his header through.  A frenzied finale saw two excellent chances by Van Persie and Mertesacker thwarted by Robinson.  The comeback was not to be.  Blackburn escaped with all three points, whether the result had been earned or gifted. And the North London Gunners had certainly earned theirs.  

It was just that sort of day...
Its gone from bad to worse for Arsenal in the Premier League.  The loss marked a record-breaking poor start for the Gunners in the domestic campaign.  Thankfully, next on the docket is League Two's Shrewsbury Town in the Carling Cup.  A win here could be a shot in the arm for the ailing Arsenal side but the hosts had better not take the Shrews lightly.  Both clubs celebrate their 125th anniversary this season and it should be a lively tie.  In recent years, Wenger has opted for a youthful side in this competition, but since wins have been in such short supply, we could see an experienced XI take the field at Emirates Tuesday afternoon.  It should be a good match and hopefully Arsenal can regain some lost confidence ahead of Saturday's match against Bolton.

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