Saturday afternoon was a shock of sorts. We all knew we were capable of it, but even the most die-hard Gooner couldn’t have seen this one coming. After spending all of January in our shell, we not only came out of our shell for February, we jumped out, and ran as fast as we could. It was emphatic as it was surprising and helped us find some much needed confidence which seemed lost throughout January.
January was frustrating, there can be no question of that. In most of those matches we struggled so much that it was hard to even pick a man of the match for us. In this game there was no shortage of contenders for the man of the match, as many as six players could have put their hand up for the award as we ran riot, shooting Blackburn down at every opportunity.
It only took about 80 seconds for us to stamp our authority on the game. Coquelin played a smart ball to Theo, who found himself in a bit of space in the box. Unlike in previous games, his final ball and overall play today was superb as he found our captain at the far post to make it 1-0 to the Arsenal.
For the rest of the second half, it was us being our usual selves, attacking with possession, however not being able to find that killer second goal. Then, against the run of play, Koscielny uncharacteristically played a clumsy challenge in a dangerous area just outside the box. Pedersen didn’t need a second invitation and converted a superb free kick to equalise. We were sucker punched once again and you thought to yourself “here we go again”.
Our fears were soon quashed. Song, not for the first time this season played a delectable ball to Walcott on the right. I’ll go as far as to say that ball was our best pass of the season. Cesc Fabregas eat your heart out. It was that good. Walcott then played in a quick ball into the near post for the captain to convert his second goal. We’ve talked time and again of Song’s importance to this side. He screens the back four, but then every so often he plays in a ball like that, it really goes to show how important he is to the side and what a quiet achiever he really is. As for Theo, two wonderful assists, finally starting to do his job right on the right hand side. I just wish he’d be a bit more consistent. Rumours are that he is poised to sign a new deal with us very soon, which is great, if he can produce more consistently.
It was great to hit the lead again, but naturally we felt that uneasiness with only a one goal lead. Once again these fears were quashed. Enter, “the Ox”. A lovely ball from midfield from our captain found the Ox in space who duly rounded the ‘keeper for this first Premier League goal, one he will never forget. One question I must ask is this, was Theo Walcott nearly as good when he was 18 years old?
Then came a bit of a heart in mouth situation. Givet for reasons only known to him went in two footed on Van Persie. A dangerous challenge and I feared the worst, but our talisman got up and was fine, thank god. Givet was sent off, and with that any hopes of a Blackburn comeback.
Half time came and we had that vital two goal cushion. We weren’t about to rest on our laurels though, we were hungry for more. Walcott was on the right once again playing in a dangerous ball which was deflected for a corner. From the resulting corner the ball was partially cleared and from the scramble, who else but Arteta to blast it from the edge of the area? 4-1. Arteta being back in the side has been another blessing for us, many of which do not understand. His presence in the midfield provides us with stability keeping the ball. Statistics from this match have him with 84 passes complete out of 90 attempted, which is sensational. Too often without him in January we’d lose the ball way too much. He may not have scored too many goals this season, but he certainly deserves that one.
The Ox was back for the fifth. Walcott was once again sensational down the right and he cut inside, danced around the box and teased the Blackburn defenders before finally releasing his former Southampton academy graduate. The Ox finished it off to complete his brace. At 18 he is already showing what a world class player he can be in the future. Once again Wenger’s watchful eye has done it again, as he has plucked this young man from obscurity, brought him to Arsenal and given him the world class platform he deserves. Remember these were his first premier league goals, but the way he bossed the left hand side, he did not look out of place at all in England’s top division.
The sixth was another bit of brilliance from a youngster. Coquelin, the young man playing out of position at right back made the position his own and played the second of his assists to set up our captain for his hat-trick. With a little shimmy down the right he lost his marker in a flash and played in a smart ball to his captain. It’s great to see the youngster adapting to positions he isn’t used to and stepping up to the plate. He’s definitely been more assured at right back than Djourou.
I don’t need to re-emphasise how good Van Persie has been this season, in this game it was 3 goals and 2 assists, he is carrying the team. The best thing though is that others scored goals too in this game. Too often recently we were too dependent on his goals, so its nice to see us share the load and take a bit of pressure off.
Then came the icing on the cake, the sweetest icing of them all, a goal from Thierry Henry. The legend intercepted a stray ball in the middle of the park, before exchanging passes with his captain to make it 7-1.
A much needed confidence boosting win. Let’s hope we can carry this momentum to a Champions League place, and good form in the cup competitions.