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Arsenal 6 Blackburn Rovers 2

Having grown up in such a large family, there are always plenty of dates to mark down in the calendar. To be honest, there are so many of them, that I don`t take too much stock in them anymore. Yet this weekend there has been no small amount of rectitude in the calendar. It was 25 years ago yesterday that I lost my father. This week has also seen Arsene Wenger, something of a surrogate father I guess you could say, become Arsenal`s longest serving manager. Whilst today also marked ten years since the last time I missed an Arsenal home fixture (October 12th 1999 versus Preston North End since you ask). So it was especially nice to see Thierry Henry on the pitch minutes before kick off, acknowledging my testimonial game! I guess it was inevitable that the most odious opposition manager I`ve encountered in that ten years stood in the way of a perfect anniversary as it were!

Within four minutes of the match starting, that pervasive air of anti climax was made flesh. About the only thing Paul Robinson is any use for is an impossibly long punt up field and he made good on his one and only skill which caught Arsenal`s defence on the hop, Mannone had little command of his area as Steven N`Zonzi out jumped Thomas Vermaelen and Mannone did not readjust his feet and looked on helplessly as the ball looped over him and in off the crossbar. It was a goal atavistic of Fat Sam`s Bolton sides which plagued us so in the early part of the decade. The goal stunned an already moribund home crowd into contemplative hush, but the team rolled their sleeves up and set about rectifying the early ill. Arshavin dinked a beautifully weighted cross to the back post and Fabregas headed onto the crossbar as Chimbonda scrambled the ball away under no pressure. Chimbonda and van Persie were then caught in the midst of an exchange after Chimbonda`s high boot threatened to reassert van Persie`s Adebayor scar, the Dutchman`s rash challenge a minute or so later in retribution showed he still has some temper to curb in his older years. But it was perhaps that sense of anger that got Arsenal back into the game. Thomas Vermaelen carried the ball forward, only to see Keith Andrews cynically trip him, Walton played the advantage and Vermaelen took his frustration out on the ball, picking it up again from thirty yards before dispatching a low exocet of a shot into Robinson`s bottom corner. Lord Lowe and I talked during the game of how a long range effort is always worthwhile against Robinson as he`s incredibly cumbersome making it towards the ground. Unless of course the ball comes laced with onions and ketchup, in which case he`d be down to it like a shot.

Arsenal looked in the mood to inflict more damage prior to half time, Diaby flicked Rosicky`s pass into the feet of Cesc Fabregas and his curling shot was beaten out by Robinson. (I think he momentarily mistook the ball for a doughnut). The home side had again massively over committed, a mistake we probably should have learned from at Manchester City when we seemed to want to win the game in three seconds flat when there was still plenty of time left on the clock. Diouf released Emerton on the right with Clichy struggling to get back and Arshavin and Diaby not even trying to help, Emerton shifted the ball over to the left of our penalty area to David Dunn- I`ve absolutely no idea where Bacary Sagna was at this point. Dunn shifted the ball onto his right foot and his effort took a wicked deflection off Gallas and past the wrong footed Mannone. At this point I`m tempted to mention how well Denilson usually plugs gaps left by onrushing full backs. But Arsenal propitiated the 59,000 crowd within two minutes. Fabregas receiving the ball high up the pitch and playing a beautiful slide rule pass into van Persie, Blobinson was slow off his line, giving van Persie time to rethink the first time shot and set himself for a cool left foot finish into the bottom corner. If you believe the soothsayers of blogdonia and newspaper universe, Fabregas has been off colour thus far this campaign. I read an article earlier this week positioning him at number 2 in the season so far`s "Top Ten Disappointments." That was his sixth assist along with three goals in seven and a half games this season. He wasn`t done there either. If that`s poor form, I can`t wait to witness some average performances from him, that`s for sure. Don`t believe the hype.

Fabregas would be chief architect again as the Gunners moved into the lead soon after, threading another beautiful disguised pass into Arshavin, who made light work of the close range finish on his left foot. Whilst people bicker about who should occupy precise blades of grass amongst our front three, Arshavin and van Persie both popped up in the centre within minutes of one another to devastating effect, whilst Walcott and Bendtner found joy in front of goal cutting in from the flanks. The word is fluidity people. Arsenal might have had another before half time, Arshavin, popping up on the right this time (surely he should be glued to the centre at all times?) sent in yet another perfectly flighted cross which Fabregas headed towards goal, Robinson saved Cesc`s weak headed attempt and Givet scrambled away the rebound. 3-2 at half time and the Premiership`s entertainers were in audience-centric mode. Of course that means that we`re still obligated to defend like amateurs at times and when David Dunn jinked his way into the area he might have won a penalty early in the second period, Song and Vermaelen certainly appeared to stop in expectation for a couple of seconds before deciding that actually clearing the ball from one`s own penalty area is usually a half decent idea. Rovers scented some blood and when Emerton`s inswinging free kick was headed to the edge of the area by Vermaelen, Martin Olsson sent a sweet left foot volley goalwards which Mannone was equal to.

But Arsenal responded to those two quasi scares the only way they know how, with all out attack and due rewards were not long in arriving. Fabregas` attempted through ball was intercepted by Chimbonda, Rosicky showed good awareness to stretch those second hand hamstrings of his and hooked the ball back into the path of Fabregas on the edge if the area, he chested the ball down and sent a looping left foot volley into the top corner past the stranded Robinson. If ever a goal was deserved, it was this one. Fabregas had simply run the hottest show in town today. Arsenal were well and truly in the groove and Tomas Rosicky nearly added to the amusement when he cut in from the left and sent a scorching shot whistling past Robinson`s upright. The cork had been popped and Arsenal`s champagne football was pouring into the stadium like the early autumn sunshine. Diaby played the ball into Fabregas on the edge of the area, Cesc reciprocated with an impudent flick back to the onrushing Diaby who sent his low shot just wide. But further defensive frailties were afoot, Mannone failed to collect a Pedersen cross, the Arsenal centre halves showed their mistrust in the young keeper by parking themselves so close to the young goalie and David Hoilett`s scuffed volley was headed onto his own past by Vermaelen. Nice to see he knows which end to be the most clinical in. Van Persie might have continued his personal vendetta against Blackburn when Fabregas chipped another inch perfect lob into the Rovers area, van Persie chest trapped and shot towards goal, but Robinson`s love handles were well positioned to block the attempt.

Theo Walcott soon entered the fray again and exemplified the attacking value of the 4-3-3 by starting on the right, but happily drifting into the centre so that his pace gave Rovers more cause for existential angst. He crowned his reappearance with a fitting goal. Clichy won possession high up the pitch, Fabregas played into Arshavin, the Russian manoeuvred forwards, returning the ball to Cesc on the edge of the area, Fabregas intelligently shifted the ball to the right and Walcott`s first time side foot finish kissed the side netting on its way in. At the dawning of Arsene`s 14th year in charge, the current number 14 become Arsenal`s 14th different goalscorer this season with the most legendary number 14 of the Premiership era taking a watching brief in the stands. The Gunners should have added a sixth soon after, Ramsey used van Persie as a sounding board on the edge of the area, the Dutchman back heeled the ball into the path of Bendtner who delayed his finish a second too long and could only fire the ball straight at Robinson`s vast, vast frame. Vast.

Walcott moved into the middle this time to cause havoc and he latched onto van Persie`s excellent chipped pass, Chimbonda just took Walcott out of his stride as he prodded the ball towards goal. Robinson weebled and wobbled as he could only deflect towards goal despite the fact the shot was straight at him, Givet scrambled the ball off the line. I`ve said on these pages time and again that my favourite thing about Nicklas Bendtner is his mentality. All young players make mistakes. Young keepers let soft goals in, young defenders misjudge tackles, young midfielders misplace passes. For young strikers in the embryonic stages of their education, that translates into missing chances. Bendtner missed a presentable chance- as he had done many times in this fixture last season. But he demonstratably wants the ball in an attempt to rectify the error. Many young players shrink in that situation but Bendtner does not. He picked up the ball on the right hand side, evaded two challenges before unleashing an unstoppable shot past Robinson and in off the post from twenty yards. The relief was palpable in his celebration. In the end it was a comfortable victory with some salivating attacking play. Fabregas dominated the match in a manner not achievable for 98% of Europe`s midfield generals, whilst the interplay between the rotating front three was a joy to behold. Even when Bendtner and Walcott came on, Arsenal looked dangerous upfront. The defending still leaves massive concerns and better sides than Blackburn will not let us get away with such cumbersome defending. Mannone did not inspire great confidence in his defence and it`s still baffling to see us over commit from the back when we have three world class strikers and a peerless midfield general supplying the bullets. Particularly when we have plenty of time to win matches. Personally, it was a nice way to punctuate a small personal landmark. In the ten years since that Preston game I`ve lived in six different houses, with twenty different individuals, I`ve completed my GCSEs, A Levels and my degree, I`ve seen five trophies amassed in two different home stadiums, had three different hair colours, five different club captains under one exquisite manager. But one thing has not changed. A ticket to see Arsene Wenger`s Arsenal remains the hottest in town.LD.

Team: 24.MANNONE, 3.SAGNA, 10.GALLAS, 5.VERMAELEN, 22.CLICHY, 17.SONG, 4.FABREGAS(c) (16.Ramsey `76), 2.DIABY, 7.ROSICKY (14.Walcott `69), 23.ARSHAVIN (52.Bendtner `76), 11.v.PERSIE. Unused: 18.Silvestre, 27.Eboue, 28.Gibbs, 53.Szczesny.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday October 4 2009

Time: 9:08PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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Good game.... Especially in the first half... I dont think anyone could deny we should have had a penalty.. but it wasnt given so i wont moan! :) I understand why you dont like Robinson after his spurs days.. (i would feel the same about any ex-burnley player) but I think you wer really unfair in your comments... when you watch him week in week out... hes a quality keeper playing behind an average defence... (poor defence today) but anyway.. good luck for the season.. especially keeping city out of the top 4!
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04/10/2009 21:28:00

LD - what about Diaby's performance? To me, he seemed like someone who didn't really know what his role is meant to be in this formation/team. He remains an enigma. I would have rather played Ramsey and asked him to play the Denilson role. We have enough attacking players out there.
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04/10/2009 21:39:00

Rover, as you say that was deliberate, I've always had a bit of fun with Robinson on these pages. I didn't think it was a pen initially in real time, but the whole Arsenal defence appeared to stop which might say something, I'll look again with interest. Diaby I feel was solid without being spectacular again today, but you're right that he doesn't have the same defensive nous as Denilson which leaves us exposed. But I don't think Ramsey could do that job either, I think there's a gap in our squad there in terms of cover. Though Eboue did ok was a DM early last season.
Little Dutch
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04/10/2009 21:44:00

Congrats on good day and 10 great years LD.
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04/10/2009 21:52:00

My favourite write ups from LD are those involving Blobinson!
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04/10/2009 22:17:00

As Goonerholic noted it's 47 conceded in 16 games against The Arsenal for the Yorkshire pudding, that's pretty feckin impressive, at his rate should he ever be given a testimonial we should be in with a decent claim for hosting it.
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04/10/2009 22:43:00

Cesc had a blinder but I thought that was in part due to having his best buddy Rosicky in the team. Rosiky's movement, and instant probing first time passes seem to be the perfect foil for Cesc and means not everything has to go through him. Cesc being able to share that burden with someone like Rosicky does wonders for his game.
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04/10/2009 23:23:00

Cesc Frabregas! :) ...anyone else get a little chill seeing him kiss that wonderful badge on his shirt after scoring? Wish i could say "good day all around" but i think everyone is aware of our defensive frailty that still exists. I also really can't understand why Diaby is still playing? I wish someone payed me that much to not do my job properly. We're missing Den, Song is the "in-between man" and Denilson is our wall. But going forward, as usual we were sublime.
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05/10/2009 04:40:00

Oh yeh! And seeing good old TH14 in the crowd certainly made me smile
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05/10/2009 04:44:00

...but does anyone know why Viera was at he Chels - Pool game and not the Gunners game? I'm assuming him and Henry were there for Wenger yes? I should really write everything in 1 post.
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05/10/2009 04:48:00

Brilliant, brilliant putting 6 past Flatulant Sam! Yes Rovers should have had a pen at 3-2 but something tells me the guys would've scored at least 7 to cover it. Each of the Blackburn goals just seemed to encouage Arsenal more. (We should've have a pen up the other end anyway courtesy of Billy but the ref decided to even it out I guess). Was so happy to see Thierry yesterday and with his little girl whom hopefully he is grooming to be a little Gooner. My delight at seeing the great Henry back HOME was only matched by my bewilderment at Viera's attendance at the mind-numbing fare served up at Stamford Bridge yesterday. What was that all about?
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05/10/2009 07:58:00

Vieira was down to attend our game, but his flight was delayed by a couple of hours. I think that's a decent point about Rosicky, the fact that he moves the ball first time and then runs. It's a simple thing really but it's something a lot of our players don't do. What was that old Liverpool tune? Pass and move. Rosicky is also not afraid to take a shot on which gives defenders something extra to think about too. It's good to have him back and I hope he's fixed for good.
Little Dutch
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05/10/2009 08:43:00

Well done Arsenal on an excellent win but I hope you are man enough to admit that we came at you and gave you a scare. Rovers didnt kick and scream they just tried to play you at your own game- yesthey lost in the end but they gave it a go. You may poke fun at Robbo but in truth he could of done nothing about the goals and made several fine saves. A proud Rover.
Mikey Delap
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05/10/2009 08:59:00

Great right up Tim, laughing my balls off at the Blobbo comments as usual. What a couple of performances from Arsenal in the last 7 days, beautiful football. I thought that despite Cesc's stats, he has been below par recently, he's given the ball away a lot and he hasn't seemed to have smiled for an ice age, of course his "below par" is still better than most. I don't think he started the game to well either, but once he got going he was unstoppable. Rosicky was brilliant, Arshavin grew into the game, and I was soooo pleased to see Walcott comeback after being out for ages and slot right in. He could have had a hat-trick. Brilliant brilliant stuff.
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05/10/2009 09:00:00

Mikey, you are abolsutely correct, Blackburn did not come to kick us at all and, as I had said to you on Saturday Mikey, I thought Dunn looked very dangerous and I was surprised and pleased that Sam took him off. I've always been unkind to Robinson, I can't help it. But it's o.k, I think he's got broad enough shoulders to cope with it. In fact, I think he may have the broadest shoulders in the division *boom boom*
Little Dutch
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05/10/2009 09:15:00

LD, are you refering to the hit single from a Mr.John Barnes "Pass and move, it's the Liverpool groove" ?? Haha
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05/10/2009 09:42:00

Good writeup again LD. Fantastic game though I had to miss an exciting part of it in the first half. Agree with Amos that Cesc defo played better with Tomas than having to shoulder the bulk of the creative responsilities without him. Having 3 or 4 of RvP, AA, Nick, Edu and Theo around him would give him a great great variety of options going forward - from trickery to finishing to pace to height. And oh Samir's coming back later this month, imagine Arsene's weapons!!
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05/10/2009 10:02:00

Why wasnt Senderos on da bench? n why does Arsene keep picking Silvestre over him? Personally id like to see da senderos n vermaelen partnership in da centre given a run, both r young, good pace n good in da air, very physical n strong defenders n will complement each other really well..
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05/10/2009 10:27:00

Fantastic write up LD "Robinson`s love handles were well positioned to block the attempt." that killed me I must say we would have scored 8 or more were it not for his performance. I get the same feeling watching our current squad that I did with the invincibles.
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05/10/2009 10:37:00

Great score rounded off a great weekend for me. Only hope we can do the same on 18.09.09. Well done and up the Gunners
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05/10/2009 11:57:00

you will struggle sheclaret! 18.09.09 was last month! if you are referring to 18.10.09 then yes maybe so! if you are struggling just use your additional finger on each hand... lol
Mikey Delap
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05/10/2009 12:38:00

Ok, so I am coming at this from a somewhat biased perspective, but I actually don't think that Vermaelen's challenge on Dunn was a penalty. Sam "I just swallowed a wasp" Allerdyce claimed that this was the turning point in the game. Picture a mouse giving the cats tail a tiny nip while the cat toys with it before ultimately making the kill. For me though, it looks as though Dunn has done a Pires. Following the challenge by Gallas (who has really been immense this season), Dunn looks to have lost his balance and for me brings his left leg to place where it will make contact with Vermaelen. Ok, so "I've seen them given", but I certainly don't think it was as "stonewall" as Big (Tit) Sam would have us believe. He really is a very surly unpleasant man, I would be surprised if he has a collection of drying skins in his attic. On a more positive note, it was just wonderful to watch. Conceding two sloppy goals aside, we were at out 'champagne' best. Serious title contenders? You better believe it baby!
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05/10/2009 12:39:00

Dunn had probably lost possession of the ball but how upset would we have been if we hadn't been awarded a penalty in the same circumstances? FatSam was right but if a manager has to be shafted by the ref then there isn't anyone better than he.
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05/10/2009 12:58:00

Lol Mikey did mean 18.10.09, suppose I should be working and not on Vital lol
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05/10/2009 13:01:00

i think blobo made a couple of GREAT saves from which the burn scored their second goal from. but he IS very slow in getting down and is not a coincidence that both of the great saves where at waist hi level and not on the ground. look at arshavin's goal, on the ground and close to blobo and not saved. if that was me in goal id have actually been really down to have not saved it. generally a good shot stopper but parries EVERYTHING and slow to the ground. not a good comobo. likes o over-react the save, which is a pet hate of mine in goalkeepers. almunia also does this and angers me. just costs the team goals. if u can hold a shot hold it as nothing else can come of it than ur team having posession. i tip it over the bar they can score from corner, u parry it, rebound goal always an option. u never saw the legends that are seaman and peter schmeichel over react saves. thats y they are the greatest keepers to have graced the prem in my oppinion.
blok112 row1 seat580
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05/10/2009 14:35:00

Couldn't agree more Amos. I used to have time for Sam, but he has just become a bitter old man. I think he is sickened by the fact that at one time he harped on about not being given the chance to manage a big club coz he was English, but having been given the chance to manage Newcastle, it turned out that it was just coz he is *****. A little harsh perhaps, but I think even the most ardent Blackburn or indeed Bolton fans would agree that he is the sort of manager who can come in an "do a job" for you. Mid table respectability is about the extent of his capabilities, as a direct result of being resentful of new methods in the modern game. Our own manager is even more stubborn than Sam, but the key difference is that Arsene is held by sound innovative principles and not decaying ones of yesteryear.
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05/10/2009 14:39:00

Abosultely stunning performance
Tiny T
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05/10/2009 18:12:00

The first goal we conceeded was clearly Sky's fault. Vermaelen puts his hands over his eyes because he lost the flight of the ball in the sun, and this due to our early kickoff...
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06/10/2009 06:27:00

Great write up Tim. This was fluid football at its best, and Cesc had a blinder. Superb form from our captain. Defensively, we still have concerns. Although a 4-3-3 will not allow a water tight defence, we still need to defend better, as there will be days, when the team scores only one or two, ad the defence should be able to protect that lead.
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06/10/2009 10:47:00

Rosicky is a class act. Good to see him back after 1year+. Have faith LD, you who doubted he'd ever be back... let's hope he comes back fit from the internationals. He is too delicate..
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06/10/2009 21:21:00

I think defensivley we're missing Denilson, we don't need About Diabolical, he doesn't add defensive cover and with the quality we already have going forward, he add's nothing. With Den in Song can be the "in-between" guy and could probably do a better job then Abou aswell as provied extra defensive cover.
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08/10/2009 08:39:00


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