Arsenal 4 (Ooijer og 2, Arshavin 65, Eboue 87, pen 90) Blackburn 0
What a difference an early goal makes. It struck me early in the second half that, had we not scored a somewhat fortuitous goal in the opening moments of the game, we would be far more frustrated by the constant creation and subsequent wastage of chance after chance in the first hour of the game. Thoughts would have drifted towards fear of another goalless draw, and those who turned on Bendtner would have done so with far more force.
But an early goal changes everything. You can attack with less desperation, and in the knowledge that you’ve already ruined the gameplan of the opposition. And that opens up the game, and can result in the sort of scoreline we eventually managed.
I just want to touch on the Bendtner situation before moving on to the positives. He missed a fair few gilt edged chances today, but I found it incredible how certain sections of the crowd (for it was only some) laid into him for it. This is a 21 year old striker who scored twice in his last Premiership outing to break our drawing streak, has reached double figures for the season despite being very much a backup, but is clearly short on confidence. So what brainiacs decided that deriding him was a good idea? It is a worrying trend that seems to be afflicting some members of our fanbase at present. Personally, I’ve seen enough to say Bendtner can turn into an excellent forward, and we’d be stupid to let him go at this point.
If the opening goal was scruffy, and it certainly was – Arshavin putting enough pressure on Ooijer to force an own goal at the near post – then the second, the Russian’s first goal for the club, was anything but. Picking the ball up near the corner flag, he jinked inside Simpson, making him look cumbersome in the process, before clipping over Paul Robinson from a tight angle. Words do not do the goal justice, but suffice to say he is increasingly looking like one hell of a signing.
Having set up the first and scored the second, not to mention seeing a set of potential assists spurned by his teammates, Arshavin conjured the third, forcing Robinson into another good save (he actually had a good game to keep the score down) before Eboue pounced to put in the rebound. And the icing on the cake arrived in injury time, Eboue stroking home a penalty after Vela had been bundled over.
Before last weekend, Eboue only had a couple of Arsenal goals to his name, but three in a week have added to the feeling that he is currently playing with a great deal of confidence. I guess you have to be feeling good about yourself to celebrate with that ridiculous dance, but times might be changing for the Ivorian – last week’s finish was assured, as were both of today’s. And to answer the counter argument that his first was a tap in, do you think the Eboue of the beginning of this season would have been sniffing around for a rebound in the six yard box? Thought not.
Elsewhere, playing a Sam Allardyce team wouldn’t be complete without a couple of very unsavoury incidents, and Blackburn gave us two examples of exactly why it is so satisfying to catch fire against them. The first was the ever reprehensible Diouf, who arrived about half an hour late to fly in with a studs up challenge above Almunia’s ankle, in an incident that should’ve seen him sent off.
The second was just hilarious, and made even the Blackburn fans cover their eyes in embarrassment. Pedersen ran away from Sagna in the area, looked around to see where he was, and threw himself to the ground in one of the worst diving incidents I’ve ever seen. It was made all the more humiliating by the fact that Sagna had slowed up, and was nowhere near close enough to have made a challenge. How Pedersen avoided censure I’ve no idea, but it was a shameful bit of simulation.
So all in all, a great day. We’re back in the top four, at least until Villa play Spurs tomorrow, and Blackburn have been pushed towards the drop zone.
Oh, and Andrey Arshavin. He’s a bit good, no?
Enjoy the rest of your weekend.