Arsenal draw with thugs from Blackburn

Arsenal draw with thugs from Blackburn

Arsenal’s Flamini battles with Blackburn’s SambaBlackburn 1-1 Arsenal Match Report

Arsenal and Blackburn played out an entertaining and intense 1-1 draw at Ewood Park on Sunday afternoon. Arsenal took a 18th minute lead after Robin van Persie smashed home a loose ball in the penalty area but were denied three points after another awful mistake by their goalkeeper Jens Lehmann. Blackburn midfielder David Dunn fired in a fizzing effort from outside the area and even though the shot was hit straight at Lehmann he could only help the ball into the net. It was the German goalkeeper’s second error in as many Premier League matches and denied Arsenal the chance to win the incredibly physical match.

I watched the game via FSi and was disappointed to see Eduardo da Silva start the match rather than Nicklas Bendtner despite the obvious need for physical presence against Blackburn. Alexander Hleb was moved to the left and Theo Walcott came in on the right to replace Tomas Rosicky and Emmanuel Eboue respectively. Despite my disappointment over Bendtner’s place on the bench I have to admit that the first half performance was excellent. Some of the Blackburn players – Robbie Savage and Christopher Samba in particular – were overly physical at times but the Arsenal boys rode the challenges well and were determined to play good football.

Robin van Persie hammers home the first goalScrappy opener for van Persie

Van Persie copped some very forceful challenges and I was delighted to see him respond with the game’s opening goal just after the quarter-hour mark. A nice flowing move involving Cesc Fabregas and Gael Clichy saw Eduardo force a save from Brad Friedel before Fabregas and a couple of Blackburn players scrapped for the ball in the penalty area and van Persie was on hand to turn the ball in. I really felt a lot of the credit for the goal should go to Eduardo for his clever positioning but I was delighted to see van Persie benefit with his second goal of the season.

The goal gave Arsenal even more confidence and Mathieu Flamini and Fabregas were absolutely dominating the centre of the park. Fabregas in particular was sensational in the first half. In one five minute period he was involved in the opening goal, made some big challenges in the middle of the park and cleared a Blackburn shot off the line. Good stuff. Bacary Sagna also had an excellent half, looking solid in defence and classy with the ball at his feet.  The one major negative about Arsenal’s first half performance was the groin injury suffered by captain William Gallas. Gallas (who will be out for 2-3 weeks) was replaced by Phillipe Senderos, who looked untroubled for the remainder of the half.

In the first half I really felt that Blackburn fell foul of their own reputation. Indeed, they seemed so determined to make a point about their physical prowess that they forgot to play football. Their constant need to foul Arsenal’s attacking players made them look nothing short of thugs at times. Their one opportunity came through a header from Ryan Nelsen that crashed onto the post, but apart from that it was Arsene Wenger’s men who edged the opening period. I thought Arsenal’s pressing all over the pitch in the first half was outstanding, with most attacks stemming from possession being won through tough tackling in the centre of the midfield. 1-0 at the break, and Arsenal in control. Or so it seemed.

Where does Lehmann go from here?Another Lehmann blunder

When the second half kicked off it was obvious that Blackburn’s manager, Mark Hughes, had changed their plan of attack. They began to play football and it seemed that Arsenal had forgotten how to do the same. The likes of Walcott, Hleb and Eduardo really went out of the game as Arsenal were forced to play long to van Persie because of good pressure from the Blackburn midfield. It seemed certain that Blackburn would find a way to goal via their dangerous set pieces but somehow Arsenal held on to their lead under immense pressure. They did so until Dunn fired in his hopeful effort and Lehmann could only fumble the ball into his own net. It was another inexcusable mistake from Arsenal’s current number one and their will surely be some debate about whether Manuel Almunia or Lukasz Fabianski should start next weekend against Manchester City.

After the goal there were more meaty challenges flying in before Nelsen was sent off for a second yellow card after a professional foul on van Persie. Eduardo and Walcott were replaced by Denilson and Bendtner respectively, with the Danish striker immediately having an impact and almost setting van Persie up for the winner. Indeed, the final chance of an exciting game fell to Bendtner on the edge of the area but he could only fire his half-volley wide of the target. Despite his lack of time on the pitch I really felt that Bendtner had a big impact on the game and should have been brought on earlier by Wenger, when it was obvious that Eduardo was starting to be muscled out of the game.

Eduardo struggled in the second half against BlackburnPositives and negatives

The match ended 1-1, a fair result in my books – and the exact prediction I made yesterday (Hurrah!). It was very much a game of two halves and Blackburn definitely deserved the equaliser despite the manner in which it was conceded. I think the Arsenal defence have done a great job in their opening three matches and it is important to note that the two goals they have conceded so far have been a direct result of Lehmann’s poor goalkeeping. It’s definitely not a bad result – especially after Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea all dropped points – but Arsenal will be hoping for three points over Manchester City next weekend to get things back on track.

To me the big positives to take out of the match were the ability of Arsenal to match Blackburn physically, the energy the team showed in the first half, and the good performances of Sagna and Fabregas. The negatives were the inability to effectively deal with Blackburn’s set pieces (despite Wenger’s opinions on the contrary), the lack of good football being played in the second half and the mistake from goalkeeper Lehmann. I think the average performances of Walcott, Eduardo and Hleb, who was forced into a wider role due to Rosicky’s injury, shows that Arsenal are still lacking another winger to support the squad and I will continue to be disappointed if a signing is not made by Wenger. Overall though, no need to panic after a grabbing a draw against a side that should make the top seven.

What do you think?

Have your say on Arsenal’s performance against Blackburn by leaving a comment.

21 Responses to “Arsenal draw with thugs from Blackburn”

  1. Joshua Asante
    August 20, 2007 at 1:37 pm #

    What a superb performance from Micah Richards at centre half,this guy would surely be worth breaking the bank for,he could be the heart of our defence for the next 10 years and to top it off he’s a gooner as well.This is one English player I would like Wenger to bring to Arsenal,superb player.
    He is exactly what Arsenal lack in defence.We should have at least made City an offer for him before the season.Arsenal have money(allegedly)so we should spend it.
    He has supported Arsenal since he was a boy.
    Lets get him plus Nicolas Anelka.!

  2. great gunnz
    August 20, 2007 at 1:55 pm #

    spot on. i couldnt agree more.

    in the 2nd half we lacked a midfield general to win back and maintain possession.

    despite his energy, flamini should not be allowed a starting place. we need a bvetter replacement for when gilberto is out for extended periods.

    hleb should should only be played down the middle if and when possible. on the wing he is irrelevanr

    walcott needs more games to make the right decisions, he can be an excellent player for us but he needs the time.

    i also think bendtner should have started. eduardo has just got back from injury and to throw him in against blackburn straight away when a fit bendtner was on the bench made no sense.

    city this saturday is vital. hopefully their stylñe of football will suit us more

  3. rodnot70
    August 20, 2007 at 2:00 pm #

    from two games, two mistakes. one was fatal, the other nearly.
    i think that lehmann is passed his best and no longer has reflexes. as a goalkeeper his mistakes are seen more, but i think that he should be rested. bendtner should be given more play, he is strong, powerful and intelligent. one question? if such players are ignored, how would we like them to stay at the club?

  4. Jay
    August 20, 2007 at 2:18 pm #

    Micah Richards was absolutely fantastic against Man Utd. 10 out of 10. We have to make a bid for him. He is a gooner so he will want to come to the club. Offer 12 mil, Man City should accept and then we have ourselves a young englishman who can stop anyone if he works hard. BID FOR RICHARDS. Also Bendnter needed to start against Blackburn, maybe against City he will, we need to stop their 100% winning streak and 100% clean sheets. Come On You Arsenal!

  5. NicktheGooner
    August 20, 2007 at 2:27 pm #

    Cant agree more with the post title. Thugs.! From the start it was evident what they were upto. They were interested in roughing up our players rather than play football. Robbie Savage is playing only because of his ability to intimidate and foul players, rather than his footballing skills.
    But full credit to the team, for the stood up to the rash treatment. After the break, i was thinking that we might get away with 3 points. But no.
    People go on and on about how we lack experience. But its very disappointing to see when the mistakes come from the most experienced. Jens must concentrate more.

  6. Romford Gooner
    August 20, 2007 at 2:34 pm #

    Jens must go!!!!!!!!

    He is twice the age of some of our other players and it shows. He is too confident about his place in the team and needs replacing.

  7. sam nix
    August 20, 2007 at 2:54 pm #

    The irony of BB’s thuggish approach is they are a far better team when they play football. BB wont drop many points at home this season, so a 1-1 result isnt too bad. Also, Flamini/Denilson/Fab are all as guilty for Dunn’s goal as Jens is. All 3 of them watched Dunn run righy by.. must defend better as a team. Theo must be more clinical when he breaks on goal as well. This legendary pace has barely got by anyone this season. And when he has, his touch and composure have let him down. He will come good, but I’d like to see more fire in his eyes. Eduardo lacked any real service to be effetive, but his runs where intelligent, this creating space for others. Very smart footballer. Sagna, again was full of class and effort. Too short to cover at CB for me, but was worth the trasnfer fee. Overall, I feel the second half saw us trade footballing ethos with BB. We seemed to play tougher and they played more football. Still need to perfect the combination of tough play and silky attacking football. As for Richards.. he is continuing to improve. Amazing yesterday. Great combination of physical strength, pace, and technique. He will cost no less than £23m though. What also deosnt help is the fact Man City have made a huge turn and seem to be a team with Europe in their immediate sights. I we did make a bid, it would start a bidding war… Dont think Arsenal being his team will be enough to lure him away… Love to see him at Arsenal tho.

  8. Jay
    August 20, 2007 at 5:04 pm #

    I disagree, i think as Arsenal is Micah Richards’ team, i believe he would do anything to come to the emirates. If Wenger made a bid i think Richards would ask Sven to accept it. Jens to go. It might be bad defending but he should have caught that. 2 games, 2 mistakes, drop him, buy a new keeper or put on Almunia. Even loan a keeper!!!

  9. MexicanGunner
    August 20, 2007 at 7:01 pm #

    Thanks for everything Lehman!
    but…
    GOODBYE

  10. phatrick
    August 20, 2007 at 7:08 pm #

    Micah will be the next Sol Campbell… I can see it already. I recon a micha-kolo partnership would be awesome

  11. marcus
    August 20, 2007 at 7:10 pm #

    Well last season we entertained everyone with comedian strikers. This season we now entertain everyone with a comedian keeper.

    But apart from that….

    There was no game at Ewood Park on Sunday. Blackburn do not play football. You can’t even say they play crap football because they don’t play football at all. The fact that they can be proud of creating a game with 8 yellow cards and 1 red says it all. It is entirely their fault that there were so many stops to the game, so many cards. The fact that lowlife scum like Robbie Savage can have an idiotic zombie grin on his face while being interviewed by skysports and say with so much pleasure and pride that “we kicked them all over the park” says it all.

    Blackburn players and their manager are pure thugs. Wenger is absolutely correct, they “desire” violence. Their idea of football is thuggery. They play football for maybe 2 minutes, that’s it. This is a thug team of glorified mediocrity who go out on the pitch not to play football but to plant their studs firmly on players’ heads (the way Pedersen did with Cesc), draw blood with their elbows, and the like–AND THEN WHINE LIKE THE COWARDS THEY ARE WHEN THE SAME IS DONE TO THEM. And don’t forget the disgusting dives by Savage and Dunn–while Blackburn scumbag fans called Gallas a “cheat” for going down with a REAL injury.

    This is all that Blackburn are about–thuggery, hypocrisy, diving. They’re a crap team who couldn’t even score except with the helpful idiocy of our keeper.

  12. ronaldo7
    August 20, 2007 at 10:15 pm #

    mich richards was so superb that night against united….his pace and strength and determination was excellent…couple times ud think tevez was away or was just about to shoot and score and richards would be there to cover….he is pure class this kid! i can see him at city till the end of the season and a bidding war for him will happen..

    as a united supporter i will honestly say we are in trouble….its not the fact we are playing badly its the fact were not finishing like we did last season and teams are playing out of there skins in defence….we have arsenals last season curse…if van niserlooj was playing yesterday i would gaurentee u he would have got a hatric lol….also tevez is not the answer we needed torress….someone with height and pace…..toress was sensational against liverpool..i really look forward to watching him play he is up there as my top 5 players in the world….

    on another note…..for those who saw the man united game, what did u think of Owen Hargraves….prob the best thing to come out of that game…..he was excellent….his work rate is so high, his aggressive in a good way, his passing is excellent…..now how good would him and gerrard be as a combination for england…id leave lampard on the bench!!!

    wat do u think??

  13. Spanish Fry
    August 20, 2007 at 10:52 pm #

    Interesting comments by all. Here’s my thoughts on a couple of the main issues discussed:

    (1) I didn’t see Michah Richards play against Manchester United (FSi buggered up at the wrong moment!) but everything I’ve heard is positive. If he is as good as everyone says he is then he would be a welcome addition to our side. However, when you look at the Gallas-Toure combination we already possess I’m not too worried about another defender. I really don’t think Djourou should have gone out on loan, that’s what the real problem is. But once Gallas returns, things should return to normal.

    (2) Jens Lehmann. Seems like EVERYBODY thinks he should go. It really is a tough one. He’s been solid throughout the first three games but we cannot afford to have these lapses – they are costing us points. Even the moment where he was knocked into the net by Pedersen; he may have been fouled but it was clear his mind had switched off and there is no guarantee the foul would’ve been given. I like Lehmann a lot and I would like to see him continue on for the season if he is playing well, but who knows whether this will happen. Almunia and Fabianski are both ready to play, maybe Jens should be given a week or two off?

    (3) I thought Blackburn played some very decent football, despite their thuggery. It’s clear they have some talented football and I don’t understand why they are so hell-bent on being physical. It’s clear it works, but at what cost? The pity is that Arsenal’s players lost their composure in the second half and tried to match them blow for blow in the second half. Blackburn upped their game and we dropped ours. If Arsenal had kept playing football we would have won.

    Any comments?

  14. Demetrio
    August 21, 2007 at 5:51 am #

    I agree on the part that Lehmann should be givin time off, maybe more then a week or two to get the message that if he isnt playin well he wont be starting. Im not a fan of Almunia tho, so i would like to see Fabianski givin a go. I think the players were too into giving the physical play back to them that they forgot to play football completely. As sam nix said, we will find a balance, but football still has to be played even when its a physical style.

  15. knightman
    August 21, 2007 at 5:56 am #

    BB played a psycological game against us and to some extent succeeded. We lost our composture in the 2nd half and they took advantage of it at the right time. One apparent tning though is that other teams will take up on BB’s example and this season will be a rough one for us unless we take precaution early…

    One thing (and i’ve said this before) is that it is important to play a physical striker in such games who can keep the other defence busy..i prefer an RVP – Adebayor combination with Eduardo coming in for RVP or Hleb and Bentdner replacing Ade when need arises. This will ensure the presence of a threatening height and muscle upfront at all times.

    Another point is to take a 4-5-1 structure which will give us a crowded mid-field and with arsenal’s passing game even the thuggiest team on earth will do little with their damaging game.

    The coming Man City much has me concerned about our central back more than anything else. Senderos has improved greatly since the pre-seasons but i’ll be crossing my fingers anytime the ball rolls towards him. Is there a better way to keep the defence solid? Is Gilberto back to give a cushioning wall at the back? Do we move Sagna to central defence and play Hoyte/Ebuoe on the right?

    For the striking i’ll be happy to see Sheyi Adebayor (am a big fan of him SF) and RVP upfront and really hope Rosicky will be back to release Hleb to central mid.

  16. knightman
    August 21, 2007 at 5:59 am #

    hey Lehnmann should be rested. Personally i’ll be happy to see Almunia play..I can’t remember him dissapointing me in the few games he played last season..

  17. gunnershabz
    August 21, 2007 at 6:31 am #

    wenger will not go for nicolas anelka, i dont think he will. we got loads of strikers, rvp, adebayor, bendtner, eduardo, and then hleb can play there.

  18. Samuel
    August 21, 2007 at 8:31 am #

    To spend 15m on Micah Richards would be the best thing ever. BEST THING EVER.

    Afonso Alves is on the market at 6.5m, why not go for the next big name Brazilian striker? I’m sure he’d prefer Arsenal to Middlesbrough…

  19. Spanish Fry
    August 21, 2007 at 9:14 am #

    “For the striking i’ll be happy to see Sheyi Adebayor (am a big fan of him SF) and RVP upfront and really hope Rosicky will be back to release Hleb to central mid.”

    You know I’m a big fan of Adebayor so it’s good to hear that. However, Hleb can’t play centrally if there are two strikers in the side – he will be forced to battle out with Rosicky for the spot on the left.

  20. Joshua Asante
    August 21, 2007 at 9:37 am #

    Why Arsenal not sign Anelka.I think he would be a great signing,proven scorer who would work well with up front with any of our strikers and is a little different from them.With Fabragas passes he would get 20+ a season.If we signed him we would have Anelka,Adebayor,Van Persie,Eduardo and Bendtner,out of those 5 only two would be playing now for 90 mins,Anelka and Van Persie,the other are either injured or not ready for it.With the 5 fully fit you have plenty of options for different games.With him I think we could unlock any team.
    (Micah Richards and Nicolas Anelka)

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