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Four to the Floor

After the hyperbole and fanfare surrounding the portent hat trick of Walcott on Wednesday, it was back to real football and a visit to Ewood Park. Mark Lawrenson may compound his astounding lack of research and knowledge with proclamations of Arsenal struggling at this venue, but our recent record there is actually very good. Having foolishly decided not to bother sleeping the night before the game and even more foolishly elected to drink six cans of red stripe and eat a kebab the night before, the uneasy marriage of beer and 'bab made for an uneasy marriage in a journey that was predominantly spent with my face against the window snoozing. As we pulled into the ground, the pavements were awash with Arsenal shirts, with the visitors beringing a 7,000 strong contingent.

Regrettably the powers that be at the Arsenal Box Office, despite having the entire Darwen End at their disposal, decided to shove the away scheme members right over into the corner. The scheme states that away scheme members are given the best seats where possible. Having spent the entire match craning my neck with a rhythmic drips of water slaloming between us, I would despute that particular claim. Anyway, once my it of pique had evaporated the game got under way in an unusually low key manner, which manifested itself in the stands. Blackburn looked uncharacteristically timid in the middle. However, Arsenal's glaring lack of a protecting midfielder was unneccesarily whetting Blackburn's meek appetite. I'm not sure howmany of you saw the match yesterday, but Denilson abandoned his role as the holding player so often that it was Fabregas who played the position for most of the match, a galling waste of Cesc's talents. In the fifth minute, a bouncing ball caught Clichy on the hop, Emerton powered beyond the French full back and flighted in a cross which, unbelievably, saw Roque Santa Cruz unmarked. Luckily he put his header over the bar. How on earth Arsenal currently sit with one goal conceded all season is a mystery on a par with crop circles and Roswell.

However, Arsenal's 'anything you create we'll create better' approach bore fruit on the eight minute. Walcott received the ball from van Persie on the left hand side, Theo's exuberance from his midweek brace was evident in his steps as he thundered inside, hurdling challenges from Andrews (who had already taken a chunk out of van Persie) and Nelsen before putting his head up and finding van Persie on the right of the penalty area. The Dutchman received the ball and slotted past Fatty Robinson with customary applomb. A neat finish, particularly when you've got a figure resembling an inflatable sumo wrestler bearing down on you. Blackburn's response was immediate, Jason Roberts outmuscled Gallas to hold the ball up, it ran to Santa Cruz whose rasping strike would have ended up in the net were it not for Toure's afro. All hail the afro, but the Arsenal defence had more leaks than a rusty collander. Though they nearly motored into a two goal lead, a Rovers corner was cleared to Warnock on the half way line, Eboue dispossessed him brilliantly, leaving Adebayor with yards of pitch in front of him, he galloped forwards and released Walcott on the left, but the over excitement was apparent as Thoe steered his shot over. Another shaky moment was on the horizon, Emerton again powered down the right with Clichy not offering resistance, his low cross trickled past the seemingly apatehtic figure of Gallas, but with Santa Cruz lurking, Toure scuffed the ball behind for a corner. Gallas is a player who really needs to wide his head in now, because his start to the season has not been good enough. Much like his compatriot Henry, his body language is pretty transparent and he looks down in the mouth. He needs to pick up quickly, because thus far the fact that he has gotten away with it is more luck than design. One more moan before I paralyse you all with negativity, when returning the ball to Blackburn in the first half following treatement to Warnock, Sagna unsportingly rolled the ball next to the Rovers corner flag. Please, please, please can we not use despicable characters such as Chris Sutton and John Terry as role models, Arsenal F.C. is above the lowly behaviour of such infidels.

Another free header for Santa Cruz gave Gooner hearts reason to flutter, this is Santa Cruz scorer of eight headers last season given two free headers inside the first half an hour. Walcott's brst down the right nearly bought rewards, he picked out van Persie on the egde of the box, his control was impeccible but his volley was inches wide. Fortunately, Arsenal grabbed an undeserved second right on half time. Arsenal played possession brilliantly in the middle of the park, playing 27 passes, until van Persie fed Denilson on the left, he steered an inviting cross to the backpost for Adebayor to squeeze a low header under Robinson's love handles and into the net. It's just as well Denilson did manage to produce going forwards, because he was conspicuous by his absence in the defensive half. Wenger simply has to play Alex Song alongside Fabregas, he may have his doubts as to whether Song can play the role long term, but his reticence to buy leaves him with little choice in my eyes. At this point I have to ask why Ewood Park bothers with the big screens at the corner of the Darwen End, Arsenal chances weren't replayed, the time was not shwoing, no half time or full time scores were announced.

The second half saw Rovers with nothing left to give and the Gunners were allowed to play their football. Walcott nearly produced an exact replica of his first England goal when Adebayor fed him on the right, Theo took a touch to steady and fired a shot goalwards, but Nelsen's touch took it wide. Toure's header was beaten out by Robinson. Emmanuel Eboue of all people sent a rasping shot towards the top corner which Robinson's frankfurter fingers managed to tip over. From the resulting corner, Eboue returned to form with a wild volley which he spooned over. 'We've only come to see Eboue' came the reply from the visiting supporters. Eboue, it must be said, had a terrific game, playing both right and left and even filling in at right back for a time when Gallas was off for treatment. It was his bursting run which yielded Arsenal's third goal when Warnock tripped him in the area. Wonders neevr cease, Eboue goes down in the area and he actually was fouled. Darryl sitting tomy left showed me the incoming report on his phone from the BBC website which labelled it a 'blatant dive made much worse by Eboue's dramatic hobbling.' I keenly await their apology now that it transpires Eboue is injured. I watched the repeat of Match of the Day this morning and no mention made of him being stretchered off. They cannot lose their rights to Premiership football soon enough, let them waste public money elsewhere.

Adebayor converted the penalty, placing it low to the left, where every single one of his Arsenal penalties has been placed to date. Time to vary the routine Ade. Jack Wilshere made a slice of history, replacing van Persie to become Arsenal's youngest ever player. But it was fellow substitute Ramsey who made a final impression, slipping a slide rule pass into Adebayor, who just about rounded Blobinson to slot home the perfect hat trick. Right foot, header, left foot. Once Ade learns the subtleties of the offside rule we're going to have Europe's most feared striker on our hands. His name was sonorously aired throughout, with the summer hatchet seemingly buried once and for all. All in all a pleasing forward display, but I am afraid the lack of a dominating centre half and a defensive midfielder still looks like an enormous hubris and better sides than Blackburn will exploit it. It may sound deplorable to complain in the wake of a 4-0 away victory, but we cannot continue with a philosophy where we accept conceding as an inevitability, teams in the upper echelons of the league will not be easily brushed aside and we must be tighter. I am afraid that means doing away with this mallapropism whereby Denilson is considered a defensive midfielder, it's a misjustice to him and the team. Particularly Fabregas' sense of duty causes him to drop back into the position. On the positive side, Walcott looked a much more confident and dangerous player, more adept in tight situations and more willing to be sirect and demand the ball. Let's just hope we get a bit better at winning the ball back and getting it out to him.LD.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday September 14 2008

Time: 12:13PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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Theovermars will score 10 this year!
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14/09/2008 12:29:00

Interesting write-up, you get a different/better perspective by actually being there of course. I saw most of the game on my PC and we did look good going forward, Fabregas making the world of difference to this side. But have to agree that far better attacking outfits will punish us and surely Arsene must see that? Song definitely also gives us a physical presence in the centre which you can immediately notice. I guess Kiev midweek will tell us a lot more.
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14/09/2008 12:29:00

Agree with most of it, but he dived, regardless of whether there was a feather touch. Doesn't look like there was contact but if there was it wasn't enough to send him flying like that. He also went out of his way to smack Pedersen in the face earlier. Hopefully getting injured while diving will be the motivation for him to sort out that aspect of his game, just as the rest of it is improving so much.
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14/09/2008 12:42:00
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14/09/2008 12:52:00

Eboue didn't dive. Warnock's right leg caught Eboue's left ankle when it was raised off the floor and he was in his stride, hence the ligament damge. His ankle was kicked down into the ground and it looked painful. Look at the situation not the reputation.
Little Dutch
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14/09/2008 13:03:00

The BBC wasn't alone in reporting it as a dive. Jeff Stelling on Sky called it the same way. Looking at the TV replays I can only imagine that they are going on reputation. There was definite contact and it was that contact that brought Eboue down.
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14/09/2008 13:23:00

your right in the fact that decent teams will score against our defence...Gallas is def. a happy with the result but wont get carried away
fran merida
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14/09/2008 13:29:00

A little while ago, when we were in the eye of "Hurricane noTransfer", I predicted (joked, really), that we would beat Blackburn 4-0, follow it up with 7-0 against Kiev, and wrap it up with 5-0 against Bolton.
So far so good, no?
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14/09/2008 13:53:00

Actually, it was 4-0 vs. Blackburn, 6-0 vs. Kiev, and 7-0 vs. Bolton. What were the odds being given for a 4-0 Arsenal win around the time the post "Reason to Believe" was done?
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14/09/2008 14:02:00

Shucks man, I even said Eboue was going to be a revelation!! And fine, he wasn't, like, awesome, but he wasn't too bad, was he? Should I start a betting website or something?
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14/09/2008 14:04:00

th41 - the same Pedersen who stamped on Cesc's neck last season? I have no sympathy for anything he gets.
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14/09/2008 17:13:00

'Wonders neevr cease, Eboue goes down in the area and he actually was fouled.' lol He was fouled indeed. On the BBC, I also want to mention that when Gary Lineker had a little dig at Alan Hansen saying that Theo lacked composure blah blah blah, Hansen started singing praises about Theo's latest performances and said 'I've kind of changed my mind over the past... 3 or 4 days.' Can someone tell me why we're paying licence fees for the (dis)services of someone like him (and Shearer and Lawrensen)?! On the defensive side, I have to agree that we were indeed a bit lucky on a few occasions. Also Silvestre has said that Arsene's looking at using him as a CB. I wonder if that'd make Gallas and Kolo sweat a little bit?
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14/09/2008 20:00:00

GoonerLou - I echo your thoughts about Hansen. It just seems that whenever he has to give Arsenal any praise you can detect he is doing it begrudgingly. Why does he feel like that? Is it to do with from when he used to be playing and started to dislike Arsenal for some reason? Or could it be the fact we don't have many British players? Who knows..
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14/09/2008 20:33:00

I agree with you guys that the central defence looks a bit weak. Song just looks classy any time he plays and offers a lot of protection to the central defence. Gallas has been below par since the beginning of the season both for Arsenal and France. I am happy with Denilson for the teams like Blackburn but when we face attack minded teams I believe Song would be a better option. Whats the situation with Abou Diaby?? How will he be used later? I noticed during preseason that he held on to the ball too long and any time he was dispossessed we were always in trouble. Any thoughts on this?
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14/09/2008 21:54:00

'for Adebayor to squeeze a low header under Robinson's love handles and into the net' Brilliant stuff as always LD.
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14/09/2008 22:21:00

lol to blobinson classic LD, yes if Blackburn took they chances it could have been a very different scoreline. I sure that Arsene saw where chances need to be may, and against Kiev i think we'll see those chances made.
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15/09/2008 06:41:00

Ade's scoring record against Robinson is nothing short of remarkable, i still haven't forgotten what happened in the Summer and was a bit sickened by him kissing the badge after the 3rd. The result completely flattered us though, that pairing at the back doesn't work and Kolo was doing the job of 2 CBs for most of the 1st half, and is it me, or has be put on a few pounds? Don't think Diaby's the answer either, hasn't got the workrate/positional nouse.
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15/09/2008 09:42:00

We have been very fortunate that the clearly failed experiment with Cesc and Denilson has failed, although results wouldn't suggest that. It was plain for all to see that we are far too open to attack, this has an awful lot to do with the fact Toure and Gallas are too similar and make exactly teh same mistakes as each other, something a playe rlike Metzelder or even that lump for Blackburn.......erm Samba could surely address for us. They may not be the classiest of CB's, but neither is Carragher, Vidic or Terry and the do well enough (usually) for their respective clubs. Thjat is what we need more than a DM IMHO.
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15/09/2008 10:01:00

You don't have to defend when you attack like Saturday
Tiny T
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15/09/2008 23:38:00

Sounds like a very good match and obviously a very good result for Arsenal.
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22/10/2008 14:42:00


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