Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Arsenal 7-1 Blackburn: Oxpowered-Rompencart

Match ReportVideoBy the numbers

I think we can safely say this morning that’s just what the doctor ordered.

Three points, a good performance, and a day which brought no controversy, animosity, angst or worry. For a moment it looked a bit shaky, when Pedersen equalised with Blackburn’s first attempt on target, but instead of setting us back it sparked us back into life and within a couple of minutes we were two goals to the good.

I guess if we’re looking at the game we should look at the three main players and what they brought to the table.

Robin van Persie

A hat-trick, two with his right foot, one with his left. His finishing is lethal, his movement in and around the area will give those Blackburn defenders nightmares, and for club and country he now has 32 goals this season. I guess what’s most remarkable is that the hat-trick seemed par for the course. I don’t want to say mundane, because that’s the wrong word, but his goal-scoring has become so regular it’s more of a surprise when he doesn’t score.

There is no question that he’s so far into the groove that Madonna herself is looking on in envy.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

When he was thrust in against Man United it was because the manager had exhausted all other options. In the absence of Gervinho we’d struggled to find a replacement. Arshavin wasn’t it, Benayoun neither, Park no existe. Having paid a lot of money for him in the summer Arsene had nothing left to lose. He spoke about him after the game being ready now but while you have to give credit to the manager for finding him, buying him and playing him, I wonder just how ready he would be if Arshavin or somebody else had been in better form.

However, there’s no doubt now that he’s in the team on merit. His performances have been eye-catching, his talent and potential is obvious, and he’s got end product to his game. He scored two fantastic goals yesterday, the first from a brilliant van Persie pass after which he showed he’s got pace to burn over short distance, the second having been set up by Theo Walcott. It was as cute and clever a finish as you’d see from a much more experienced player.

It’s very hard not to get excited by him, because he’s got so much to his game. He works hard, his range of passing is jaw-dropping for a player of his age and relative inexperience (from crossfield passes to feet, to through balls, to crosses like the one for Arteta after a mazy run down the wing), this young man has got the world at his feet. I still maintain we should try and play down the hype as much as possible but after seeing what he did yesterday that’s going to be hard.

He’s now in the team on merit, he should stay there as long as his performances are good, and maybe he’s part of the reason why the manager didn’t buy in January. It’s obvious he adds something to the team that we’ve been missing, and while there’s always a risk of a new player coming in and experiencing the first flush of youth etc, there’s no question we’ve got a real talent on our hands here.

Theo Walcott

Rightly criticised in recent weeks for his lack of contribution and some face-palmtastic moments in front of goal, a hat-trick of assists deserves credit. Two for van Persie and one for The Ox just adds to the confusion I feel about him. I’m aware of his limitations as a player, they frustrate me no end, but when exploited properly his pace is a real weapon.

I do have to qualify it a bit, because he’s being aided and abetted by Robin van Persie. The movement and speed of thought he has makes Theo’s life easier. I don’t think it’s coincidence that most of his assists have come for Robin because I think Robin knows what Theo’s likely to do (read into that what you will). I doubt Theo would have anywhere near as many assists playing with Chamakh, for example, and that’s not just down the relative finishing ability of the two strikers.

Still, we can’t quibble this morning about what he did yesterday, and hopefully the impending return of Gervinho, the form of The Ox and a bit more drive and desire can fuel his contributions.

The Rest

We wanted more from midfield, and we got it. A goal from Arteta and a beautiful pass by Song to set up Theo for a van Persie assist the highlights, while I felt Rosicky, in for Ramsey, had a freshness which was important. Poor old Tomas, still can’t score, but it’s good to have options. And a word too for Francis Coquelin, another solid performance at right back which will, I think, serve him well when he’s moved into midfield eventually.

Another Thierry Henry goal was great to see. In the old days he’d have switched on the afterburners when he robbed that ball in midfield but that was he was able to work the space with van Persie showed his brain still works in top gear. A little lucky with the finish but so what? You could see what the goal meant to him.

Finally, without wishing to end on a negative note, when we’re 6-1 up at home with half an hour to go, with the manager having spoken about his desire to rest Robin van Persie, you might think it would be the perfect time to give Ju Young Park a run out. There’d be no pressure, Arsenal playing against 10 men, it would surely have been productive in one way or another.

Perhaps the boss had other reasons for his changes, you have to suspect that the withdrawals of Song and Koscielny were for medical reasons (preventative, I hope), but all the same, if Park can’t get a few minutes in these circumstances, what hope is there for  him? I’d love to hear somebody ask Arsene about him at one of the pre or post game press conferences, because I’m genuinely curious about what’s going on. It is one of the most head-scratching signings we’ve ever made under the boss.

Anyway, as I said, it’s more curiosity that anything else, and not meant to take away from what was a much-needed, and very enjoyable win yesterday. Clearly it’s just three points, not all our problems are solved or anything like it, but it sets us up for a much happier week before we go to Sunderand next weekend.

Have a good Sunday folks.

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