Arsenal 2 (Senderos 4, Adebayor 90) Blackburn 0
Comfortable, if not entirely convincing. Efficient, if not spectacular. Words that won’t bother any Arsenal fans looking at the Premiership table and a five point lead, after a near perfect weekend.
Blackburn came with a gameplan to shut up shop and force some pressure, but it fell apart after only a few minutes, when Eduardo’s corner found an unmarked Senderos six yards out, the Swiss defender powering home. In all honestly, it was shocking marking, and Mark Hughes was right to look so angry on the touchline.
For much of the next hour, we became more and more thankful for that goal. Freidel was saving the half chances we were getting, and while Blackburn weren’t creating much, there was always a worry that a second would be needed.
After the break, there was a distinct improvement, Hleb smacking the post with a shot that was an unexpected as the first scorer. Finally, Adebayor, who had again shown great workrate up front, continued his goalscoring run, flicking Hleb’s pass past a defender and slamming home. The relief was there was all to see.
So often in matches where a team is looking to capitalise on dropped points elsewhere, it is tough to get the win, but it was a battling performance that bodes well for the rest of the season. I still think it’s a little premature to be talking about winning it, let’s see where we are at the start of March. Inside the last ten games, we can start counting down, until then, they’re just more matches.
But one consistent achievement we’ve managed this season is to lead the league well into enforced breaks. Every time we’ve gone off to an international break, we’ve gone top or extended the lead just beforehand, and now with the cups taking over again, we can sit with a five point lead for two weeks.
Next up, United in the cup. It isn’t the priority of either club, and neither wants a draw, so it could be entertaining. I imagine Wenger will do what he did a few years back and rest a few names. We won that day, partly thanks to a hilarious open goal miss by Giggs. More of the same?