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Arsenal 6.v.2 Rovers

6 - 2
Blackburn Rovers

The Emirates Stadium

23rd December 2006

Attendance: 59913


We knew it was coming in all honesty. Traditionally Rovers have a terrible record at Arsenal and it was extended further on a torrid afternoon for the blue and white halves.

Arsenal were simply breath-taking, but the score-line isn`t a true reflection of the game and Rovers` performance.

The game got underway at a rapid pace. Before the dust could settle a fired-up David Bentley went charging into the Arsenal penalty area and was up-ended in the 2nd minute. Referee, Howard Webb had little hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot and Rovers had an early opportunity to steel ahead.

Having missed all three previous penalties in the league this season, Rovers fans had every reason to be dubious, especially considering the taker. At first it appeared that Morten Gamst Pedersen would take it but Shabani Nonda insisted. The Congo international hasn`t exactly taken the Premiership by storm and so he wouldn`t have seemed the obvious choice.

However, he calmly stepped up and slotted the ball home to silence the cacophony of whistles.

A visibly stunned Arsenal side pulled themselves together and went about their business of finding an equalizer.

They didn`t have long to wait and just as they had presented Rovers with the chance to score, Rovers, obligingly, returned the favour. A floated ball into the area found Gilberto Silva, totally unmarked, to head home at the back post. Rovers had had a warning just 60 seconds earlier when Toure hit the bar with a header.

Arsenal started to take control of proceedings and could have had a second through Gilberto again. He went haring through on goal but was thwarted by a sensationally brave dive from Brad Friedel. The giant American punched the ball away at the feet of Gilberto to produce howls of discontent from the vociferous home support.

A second though wasn`t too far away for Arsenal. Aleksander Hleb`s delicate flick in the 23rd minute gave Arsenal the lead for the first time in the game.

Arsenal were flying. The poetic, free-flowing football, that has become the rubber-stamp of Arsenal under Wenger was being displayed leaving the viewers in awe.

Arsenal were then assisted by the referee as he awarded a dubious penalty for another Oscar winning display from Robin van Persie. His dive gave Emmanuel Adebayor the chance to make it three-one and he duly obliged.

Rovers rallied and were unlucky not to pull themselves back into the game following a couple of long range fizzing drives from David Bentley. He was in a particularly aggressive mood, shooting on sight, which could have had something to do with Arsene Wenger`s programme notes.

The first half drew to a close with Arsenal firmly in the ascendancy. They were good value for their lead but Rovers were playing their part in making this an enthralling encounter.

Arsenal had been threatening the kind of performance they were putting on today.

The second half began with Arsenal pouring through the Rovers defence in a bid to create the picturesque goal. Chance after chance was squandered and it looked as though Arsenal may be punished for their second profligacy.

A ball into the Arsenal penalty area in the sixty-ninth minute area was acrobatically converted by Shabani Nonda for his second of the game. He was virtually on the ground when he connected with the ball for an unconventional over-head kick after Matt Derbyshire was denied by the cross-bar.

Rovers rallied and bravely went in search of an equaliser. Then came a moment when the game changed.

Morten Gamst Pedersen went close to drawing Rovers level but he was denied by a tremendous stop from Jens Lehman. Almost instantaneously Arsenal went up field and re-established their two goal lead. An excellent solo goal from van Persie, who danced his way through the Rovers defence before producing a sublime finish, seemed to have put the icing on the cake.

However, Arsenal weren`t finished yet. As Rovers committed men forward, a rapid break from the home side tore Hughes` team to shreds. Van Persie coolly slotted home his second and Arsenal`s fifth. Rovers continued to attack valiantly but were left short again as Mathieu Flamini added a sixth.

The scoreline is a harsh reflection on Rovers, who played their part in making this an entertaining game. It is the biggest defeat Rovers have suffered in the history of the Premiership and will serve as a huge blow to a squad who were only recently re-discovering their confidence.

Star Player

David Bentley

Worked hard through out and looked creative.

Player Ratings

Friedel 5

Could do little about the majority of the goals.

Neill 5

Looks ready to leave.

Gray 4

Didn't neccessarily play bad just caught out because he is too slow.

Ooijer 4

Totally out played.

Todd 4

Totally out played.

Emerton 5

Failed to make enough of an impact.

Bentley 7

Worked hard and was unlucky on a number of occasions.

Gamst 5

Looking more like his old self.

Tugay 4

Out shone by Fabregas

Savage 3

Totally ineffectual.

Nonda 6

Did well to get his goals.

Derbyshire 6

Looked spritely.

Date:Saturday December 23 2006
Time: 6:02PM


I await the usual post match platitudes,we were chasing the game,their keeper was outstanding,we created chances etc,look at the table,with Liverpool and a certain mr Bellamy about to turn up,we could be in the bottom 3,at the end Arsenal were showboating,totally outclassed by a team that could be 10 points away from the eventual champions,we are,as i say again,in real peril.
23/12/2006 19:34:00
I think you are being harsh boddington, I think we more than held our own just came up against a superb Arsenal side who WOULD have beaten anyone today lets make no mistakes about that one. It was still only 3-2 with FIVE minutes to play and we were chasing the game. I feel no shame in this result. Arsenal deserved to win and probably deserved to score 6 but at the same time had we got at least the same amount I don't think the chances we created would have made that amount unfair! Reaslistically were we EVER going to get anything here anyway?!?!
Hughes Da Man
23/12/2006 19:40:00
u think van persie dived for that penalty.. gimme a break.. it was as clear as a penalty can get.. and you must consider yourself lucky it was only 6-2 and not 10-2.. perhaps you would have suffered the worst ever premiership defeat.. let alone in your history.. but anyways.. a good and spirited performance from the away team of rovers and i applaud them for it..
23/12/2006 19:43:00
yeah unlucky,it was a good game,we turned it round and throughout the whole of the second half when it was only 3-1 arsenal took the *****,but fair play to rovers for not giving it up pulling a goal back and making it a very enjoyable last 25mins you almost sneaked a draw.
fran merida
23/12/2006 20:26:00
Effort and endeavour can only get you so far,in our case into the cack.;
23/12/2006 21:16:00
MAGNIFICENT............. 6-2 ???? really!
23/12/2006 21:28:00
You also have to argue that it could have ended 6-6 though go4it_adi! Bradders made some good saves but for others he wasn't even called upon, Lehmann was called upon on, and called upon well on almost EVERY shot we had on target. Arsenal were a different class today and would have beaten anyone, and probably anyone by scoring 6!
Hughes Da Man
23/12/2006 22:12:00
We are maybe not doing well at the moment and it is a slight worry but I feel you are perhaps beginning to be more than a little harsh boddington, I really do. We can take positives from today and I stand by my claims that Arsenal WOULD have beaten anyone today and would have scored goals against them by the hat ful. We played well and had a go and gave them a game on their patch which is more than a lot of the teams supposidly far superior to us have! We'll be fine and we'll bounce back against Liverpool.
Hughes Da Man
23/12/2006 22:15:00
We suffered because we DIDNT set our stall out to defend. It could of panned out one of two ways. 1) We got hammered. 2) We gave a great attacking accountof ourselves and stole victory. Unfortunately it was option 1. Rovers played well in patches. Bentley was Rovers best player and certainly was keen to impress. Pedersen had a good game as did Nonda (much more like it and what a penalty.) The defence was too slow to cope with Arsenal. This game showed why Nelsen is the man and Emerton should of played right back instead of Neill who should of been in place of Gray. I think Boddington Blue is being a bit harsh and for once I think Hughes da Man is perhaps a bit harsh with the player ratings. Come on mate surely someone who scores 2 goal at the Emirates is worthy pf at least a 7? The defence ratings are fair as we were out played. Savage and Tugay had poor games but emerton looked a threat down the right. I know we arent getting the results at the moment but the tide will turn. Keep the faith it was one of those days.
24/12/2006 10:58:00
This is our worst result in the premiership,fact.We have always competed with the gooners,and given them a game,beating a stronger Arsenal team on our own patch.Who can remember us ever being so outclassed and humiliated,in this league.While we continue closing our eyes and pretending everything is ok,and that this was a one off, we will continue dropping down the league,and ultimately,out of it,if things do not change.Results dont lie.
24/12/2006 12:22:00
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