Date:Sunday March 15 2009
Blackburn Rovers manager Sam Allardyce has conceded that Rovers lost to the superior side after our 4-0 defeat at Arsenal on Saturday afternoon. However, he also bemoaned the fact that injuries hampered our chances.
Injuries were already against Rovers when kick-off came round but an early setback for Gael Givet and then an injury to Stephen Warnock made things worse, all of which left Allardyce ruing the lack of experience against an Arsenal side (maybe not brimming with experience itself) that was too good for us.
Allardyce told Sky Sports: "It went wrong before the start as I didn't have a fully fit squad available, and then of course we lost Gael after a few minutes and Stephen just into the second half.
"That was too much for us to cope with against an Arsenal side that was very good."
For the second time in the space of a few days Rovers slipped behind to an early goal (when Andre Ooijer was unfortunate to turn the ball into his own net) but unlike Fulham last Wednesday we were unable to fight back from this setback and the early strike against us added to Big Sam's frustration.
He added: "It is something that is really disappointing because we have talked about it before.
"We started here and we said the longer we can keep it tight, the more frustrated Arsenal can get.
"Recently they have struggled to score but today we didn't have enough experienced players on the pitch in the end and we couldn't withstand the pressure they put us under."
However, Big Sam praise Paul Robinson, saying that the England goalkeeper was the only player to put in a good performance with everyone else not at their best. Robinson did make several very good saves as a rampant Gunners side besieged the Rovers goal, however, all in all I don't think we can have many complaints and even with a full-strength side I think we would've been beaten at The Emirates Stadium on Saturday as only wasteful finishing (and the saves from Robbo) kept the score as respectable as it was, which could have been even more flattering for us but for Arsenal's final two goals late on.
There were some moments of controversy, one involving a blatant dive from Morten Gamst Pedersen as he went in search of a penalty (which I found embarrassing as it not only reflects badly on Pedersen but also Rovers) and the other a poor challenge from El-Hadji Diouf on Arsenal Manuel Almunia. Allardyce refused to accept that he thought Diouf deserved a red card, but did acknowledge it was a silly challenge that wasn't needed.
On the Diouf incident, when asked if it should have been a red card Big Sam said: "I don't think so. It was a silly challenge and there was no need for him to do it. He got a deserved yellow card."
Personally I think that Big Sam is wrong and had Diouf been sent off for his foul on Almunia I wouldn't have had any complaints. The Senegalese forward shouldn't have dived in like he did as there was no need for it and this could have caused very serious damage (I'm not saying he was looking to cause damage though) to the goalkeeper, thankfully it didn't!!! Again this not only reflects badly on Diouf, but also Rovers as do Big Sam's views on it really. Of course he has to protect his players but would he honestly have been saying the same had this been Nicklas Bendtner (for example) diving in on Robinson?!?!
I think this defeat might act as a bit of an eye-opener for plenty of us, as anyone thinking that we were well on the path to safety after the superb comeback win against Fulham might have been brought back down to earth with a bump across town in London on Saturday afternoon.
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Date:Sunday March 15 2009
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