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Rovers0.v.2 Arsenal

Blackburn Rovers
0 - 2

Ewood Park

13th January 2007. 17:15

Attendance: 21,852


In dismal conditions, Rovers` recent good form came to end against an irresistible Arsenal side.

Mark Hughes made four changes to the side that comprehensively beat Everton in the F. A. Cup last weekend, the only surprise being the inclusion of Matt Derbyshire from the start.

Rovers kicked off in blustery conditions made worse by a constant downpour of torrential rain. On a boggy pitch both sides eased their way into the game, with Rovers retaining the majority of the possession and Arsenal seemingly content to sit back.

The first chance of note should really have made an impression on the scoreline. Rovers` second corner was whipped in by Morten Gamst Pedersen from the right and Derbyshire evaded his marker inside the six yard box. However, despite making a solid connection he sent his header zipping wide of Jen Lehman`s post with the 'keeper unmoved.

Rovers were trying to unsettle Arsenal with an aggressive approach and it certainly bothered Gilberto. In the 13th minute Robbie Savage and Gilberto contested for the ball but referee, Rob Styles, blew his whistle because Savage was being over-physical. That was a view shared with Arsenal`s Brazilian midfielder, who promptly lashed out and kicked Savage.

Mr Styles had little hesitation in issuing a red card to the Brazilian. This snap decision completely changed the dynamic of the game.

With both sides seemingly stunned by such a decision early on, the game continued at a snails pace. Conditions were getting worse as thin blankets of rain covered Ewood Park making the pitch heavy and arduous on the legs.

Rovers held the majority of the possession with Arsenal showing glimpses of counter-attacking potential. Brett Emerton tried to inject some life into the contest midway through the half. He picked the ball up wide right and proceeded to maraud across the pitch evading a number of challenges before picking out an unmarked Gamst on the far left of the penalty area.

His thunderous drive towards the near post was expertly tipped over for a corner.

That charge and shot seemed to stir the crowd and, to the beat of the drums and chants of the home fans, Benni McCarthy also went on a charge. He eventually made his way to the edge of the penalty area but his effort on goal was tame and easily blocked.

With Rovers lifting their game Arsenal were aiming to match the home side. They were awarded a free-kick just inside the Rovers half in the 36th minute.

As players ambled into position Thierry Henry produced a moment of brilliance. He elegantly lifted the ball into the area perfectly timed for the run of Kolo Toure, the only Arsenal player in the penalty area, who powerfully headed the ball on target and into the net off the post.

Rovers were visibly stunned and 10-man Arsenal were now content to sit back and absorb an expected onslaught. Rovers struggled to muster anything worthy of note as the half petered away.

Rovers were decidedly lacking in the creative department in the first half so it came as no surprise that Aaron Mokoena was replaced at half-time by Tugay.

The Rovers fans were expecting a determined and aggressive second half display in a bid to restore parity but it never materialised.

Despite the conditions easing in the second period Rovers continued to look lethargic, making heavy work of trying to muster an equaliser. A succession of corners came and went without too much threat to the Arsenal goal.

Shabani Nonda was introduced in place of Andre Ooijer to give Rovers added potency in attack. He should have made an immediate impact following an excellent cross from Gamst.

He picked out Nonda in the area unmarked by the hit-man couldn`t direct his header on target. Moments later and Rovers were cursing their luck again following another dangerous ball from the left by Gamst. This tie Derbyshire was sniffing around for a goal but he couldn`t apply a telling finish to the cross.

Rovers were punished for their profligacy when Thierry Henry confirmed victory in emphatic and mesmerising style.

A rapid break from inside the Arsenal penalty area saw Henry take the ball well into opposition territory before picking out Fabregas. The young Spaniard immediately rolled the ball into Henry`s path and his instantaneous shot fizzed past Friedel and crashed into the net via the underneath of the crossbar.

It was the kind of break and goal Arsenal had been threatening all afternoon. Both Fabregas and Henry had been like snipers choosing their passes and executing them with deadly precision. They had picked Rovers off as they stood their exposed in the monsoon like conditions.

It wasn`t an afternoon to remember for Rovers fans. Rovers were as bad as Arsenal were great.

Star Player

Morten Gamst Pedersen.

After such a nondescript season to date he is now taking all the accolades. His performances stood out against an average team display.

Player Ratings

Friedel 6

Had nothing to do except pick the ball out of the net following two wonderful goals.

Neill 6

Not one of his best performances in a Rovers shirt and it could well have been his last.

Ooijer 6

Conditions often got the better of him and he looks more comfortable in the centre.

Khizanishvili 7

Defended well at times in tough conditions.

Henchoz 6

Did okay.

Emerton 7

Injected drive and creativity at times but was sloppy at others.

Mokoena 4

An awfully out of soughts first half display

Savage 5

Didn't affect the game in any other way after getting Gilberto sent off.

Gamst 8

A constant threat on the left and produced a wonderful save from Lehman, just like at the Emirates.

McCarthy 6

A frustrating afternoon for him.

Derbyshire 6

He was lively and is constantly sniffing around in the box. should have scored twice though.

Tugay 6

Brought on the affect the game but did little in that nature.

Nonda 5

Effort again but lacking composure in front of goal again.

Date:Sunday January 14 2007
Time: 11:16AM


Arsenal were good value for their win as Rovers put in a dismal display. Very disappointed with the response after going a goal down.
14/01/2007 11:17:00
They were, clear cut chances weren't taken Arsenal took their's from nothing with a fantastic goal from Henry. You can't win them all; hopefully we'll learn from this.
Hughes Da Man
14/01/2007 11:28:00
Ha pedersen was so average. Ur not gonna do much if u play "football" like that. Ur team is a danger to premiership football and it was no surprise that last seaon Mokoena broke a players leg in one of his his first games. Your team seems to forget that even in the premiership there is a techical side to football.
14/01/2007 12:22:00
Simon you sound like so many other people.....well done on your pearls of wisdom there!!!! If you're prepared to make a sweeping and rash statement, watch more of our games first. Narrow minded would be a suitable stereotype for yourself, seeing as that is the choice language for the day. My team ratings are for the Rovers players, it is regardless of the opposition. If it makes you feel better, if I had to choose a man of the MATCH then it would be a tough one between Cesc and Henry, prob Henry!
14/01/2007 12:37:00
I've not come here to gloat, nor to brag. I thought we deserved our win yesterday and proved to a lot of people the we are no longer the pushovers we were once percieved to be. The side has come of age. The ref was a proper plonker. It was either two reds or two yellows, no common sense whatsoever. Also tuguy should have gone. Nevermind though. good luck with the rest of your season!
14/01/2007 12:45:00
Cheers Rocky7. You were indeed excellent value for your win and as per comments posted on your site I thought it was one of the most accomplished displays I have seen. It certainly is a suggestion that you are going to be a force to be reckoned with. Chelsea couldn't have done that!!!!
14/01/2007 12:49:00
ahh.. the person who wrote this piece of crap.. "gilberto lashed out".. sent off for a kick which barely made contact.. and savage.. a tackle from behind and an elbow to the back.. little lily savage gets a yellow.. but ofcurse the rule book says that.. van persie is through on goal.. niell.. the last defender.. brings persie down.. and no sign of red.. of course the rule book says that.. emerton.. a deliberate hand ball when he was on a yellow and then a rugby like tackle on cesc.. retaliation.. but no yellow for that..because thats what the rule book says.. tugay.. very well knowing what he was doing.. he knew he was not getting the ball.. gets cesc on the foot.. but no red for that.. perhaps because the rule book says that dangerous tackles that might put people out of play for months with injury do not merit a red card.. and yeah.. as an after thought.. i am not taking anything away from blackburn.. i am not bragging.. i am not moaning.. i just want people to use some common sense..
14/01/2007 13:45:00
I'll not disagree it wasn't good football and I'm not proud of it, anything but! We are above that kind of thing; this isn't what we do ANYMORE. Conditions were poor, didn't enable for a good game of football really. We were always going to be physical but didn't expect this. You have to do what you have to do but this was too much, VERY disappointed I have to say we didn't do ourselves too many favours but simon base your views on the bigger picture not one 90 minutes!!! I base my views of Arsenal on watching them long term not just one below average or poor showing, even several poor showing as I ALWAYS knew they were better than people were saying you are rebuilding and wouldn't take the years the Spuds have to "rebuild". You WILL dominate the game again sooner rather than later.
Hughes Da Man
14/01/2007 13:54:00
No mater what Sav did Gilberto still kicked no matter how minimal it was. If Sav isn't pulled up its not his fault its Styles' fault! If Styles thinks that was worthy of a red blame him. I've made no secret that is was soft but Styles shows or doesn't show the cards not Sav, Tugay, Neill or Emerton, they are hardly going to ask for a red even if they deserve it are they, which probably three, if not all four did!
Hughes Da Man
14/01/2007 14:00:00
In reference to comments made by go4it_adi thank you for the constructive criticism, words of advice such as yours will go a long way in helping me improve my writing. I tell you what buddy had it been the other way around I would prob be saying the same thing. However, my article is a match report that I felt did justice to the events that unfolded. Rovers were poor and could only muster a handful of chances against 10 men. The red card was given because of exactly what I reported. I produced a report that focused on the game and didn't bellyache for 17 pages about the letter of the law and physical nature of the contest. If you take time to read it you will see that is a fair reflection of how both sides played and denotes a complimentary picture of the Gooners. Now shut up with you immature and unimaginative whining. We as Rovers fans are NOT saying you cheated or that Styles was right, quite the opposite so I would take great pleasure if you and your moronic comments were reserved for the pathetic audience that they merit.....yourself!
14/01/2007 15:04:00
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