Arsenal strike seven past Rovers
Written By: Robert Halter
Ending a run of three consecutive Premier League defeats with a 0-0 draw at Bolton Wanderers, the Gunners looked to convert a victory against relegation threatened Blackburn Rovers at the Emirates Stadium, beginning of February. Rovers had already achieved a high scoring 4-3 win over Arsenal at Ewood Park, back in September but had never taken three points at Arsenal’s new stadium since the Gunners moved there in 2006. It took just two minutes for the Gunners to register a goal when Francis Coquelin set Theo Walcott clear on the right side of the penalty box, who in turn gave Robin Van Persie the easy task of rolling the ball past Paul Robinson into the centre of the net. Alarm bells rang when Anthony Modeste clattered into Wojciech Szczesny but the Rovers striker and Gunners keeper were soon back on their feet with a quarter of an hour played. On twenty three minutes, Tomas Rosicky went close with a curling shot that deflected off David Dunn. Then a minute later Arsenal went even closer from an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain corner as Per Mertesacker headed the ball down for Laurent Koscielny to narrowly nod the ball over the bar. On the half hour mark, Van Persie tried a delicate chip from distance but the ball drifted wide. Within a minute, Rovers were level when Koscielny needlessly fouled Modeste on the edge of the box and from the resulting free kick, Morten Gamst Pedersen produced a spectacular finish by curling the ball into the top left corner past Szczesny’s helpless dive. Moments later a lunging tackle by Rosicky on Jason Lowe meant Bradley Orr taking over from Rovers injured number thirty five. But there was no stopping Van Persie getting his second on thirty eight minutes, as Alex Song put the ball out to Walcott on the right, who gave Van Persie the chance to turn his shot past Martin Olsson and Scott Dann on the line. Two minutes later, Van Persie created the third, when on the turn Van Persie set Oxlade-Chamberlain free, who rounded Robinson and put the ball past Orr to give the Gunners a 3-1 advantage. It got worse for Rovers just before the break, when Gael Givet received a straight red card for a reckless two footed challenge on Van Persie. On the stroke of half time a short corner by Van Persie saw Mikel Arteta’s cross knocked on by Mertesacker and with a close range header Thomas Vermaelen’s effort hit the base of the left post. Six minutes into the second half, Arsenal added a fourth, when from a Van Persie corner, a failed clearance by Steven Nzonzi rebounded off Koscielny and Arteta struck a low drive outside the area which smashed into the goal. The Gunners then created a fifth on fifty four minutes when Rosicky sprayed the ball out to Walcott, who ran inside the Rovers defence and gave Oxlade-Chamberlain the opportunity for his second goal, as he turned the ball past Pedersen into the bottom left corner. Oxlade-Chamberlain then put a cross into Arteta four minutes later but the resulting volley was put over. Van Persie completed his hat trick on sixty two minutes, after Coquelin’s ball over was met by a measured finish from Van Persie as it was all guns blazing for Arsenal. Thierry Henry replaced Oxlade-Chamberlain and completed the rout with a seventh Gunners goal near the end of added on time, after Grant Hanley lost the ball to Henry, who combined with Van Persie, before finding a way past Dann and then Robinson to mark Henry’s first league goal for the Gunners in his final home game for the club during his two month loan spell from New York Red Bulls.