Rovers, for a number of reasons were handed a deserved, but could of been even worse defeat at the hands of Arsenal yesterday.
Pre-match injuries, in game injuries, a lack of common sense, Arsenal flair and a baffling team selection led to a second 4-0 defeat at the hands of Arsenal this season.
Injury had robbed Rovers of captain Ryan Nelsen and several midfielders as the midfield three was Stephen Warnock, Aaron Mokoena and (amazingly) Zurab Khizanishvilli.
Rovers lined up 4-5-1 and made the most criminal of all starts – conceding a goal after 2 minutes for the second game running. You may be able to do that against Fulham and get away with it but you won’t with Arsenal.
The goal was a testament to how much Arsenal have missed Theo Walcott as he orchestrated it.
Walcott raced to the byline and cut the ball into the six-yard box where both Song and Arshavin were waiting at the near post.
Andre Ooijer will be credited with own goal as Arshavins touch was not heading and Ooijer got a heavy deflection to guide the ball home.
There was more bad news as after 13 minutes, Gael Givet gave way to David Dunn and Warnock dropped back to left back as Givet was injured in what looked like a re-occurance of his injury from the other day. Hopefully it will be just a scare.
Rovers did look promising on the odd time they went forward with El Hadji Diouf the most likely to create bother. However, he ruined any promise he had shown with a senseless late tackle on Manuel Almunia for which he was fortunate to avoid a red card.
Rovers best chance of the first half was when Pedersen struck with the last move of the first period but Almunia scrambled the ball to safety.
Arsenal looked even more menacing after the break, as they continued to cause problems with Walcott and Arshavin the cause of most threat.
Thankfully Danish striker Nicholas Bendtner can’t shoot for toffee otherwise Arsenal could of been out of sight by 50 minutes.
But for all their dominance the lead remained at a single goal until a stroke of genius. It was Arshavin who released the pressure.
Collecting the ball wide on the left. He ghosted past the hapless Danny Simpson, who offered little by way of a challenge, and lifted his ball over a helpless Robinson into the roof of the net.
Two goals followed late in the game, both from substitute Emmanuel Eboue. First he poked home the third after Robinson pushed out another Arshavin effort with three minutes left.
The Ivorian then stroked home from the penalty spot after Vela was clumsily and ridiculously fouled by substitute Martin Olsson.
A really bad day at the office which wasn;t helped by some key personell missing but it was hardly all that as rovers were their own worst enemy.
Back to the drawing board and time to forget about this one in a hurry.
Paul Robinson – 7
Would of been a cricket score if not for Robbo. Was given no help what so ever by his defence.
Danny Simpson – 4
Oh dear. Looked like a Championship player as he was given the run around by Arshavin all day long. Must do a lot better than this.
Andre Ooijer – 5
Unlucky for own goal but all this showed is how much we missed Ryan Nelsen. No organisation from Andre I am afraid and caught out a few times.
Chris Samba – 7
Best defender by a mile. Kept his cool while others were losing their’s all around him.
Gael Givet – 5
Injured after 13 minutes. Had again looked decent but anyone would of struggled against Walcott on this form.
Diouf – 7 for skill, 3 for Attitude
Showed some really good touches and looked to cause problems for Arsenal but his attitude let him down. Stupid foul on Almunia and then spent the next 10 minutes chasing a vendetta. Get on with with Hadj because you are good player when you keep your cool.
Warnock – 6
Had a solid afternoon as usual that was cut short by(another) injury. We’ll need him back sharpish. Was given a tough ride by Walcott when moved to left back but did his best as always.
Aaron Mokoena – 4
Off the pace and looked outclassed in a midfield role.
Zurab Khizanshvilli – 4
See Mokoena, Aaron.
Gamst Pedersen – 5
Not bad. He has had worse days and looked to get into crossing positions when possible but for the love of god, when you have a chance to impact the game, – STAY ON YOUR FEET MORTEN.
Roberts – 5
Was given the square root of naff all help by others and tried his best to hold up play but didn’t have the best of afternoons. Feel sorry for the guy.
Dunn – 5
Tried hard but another one that looked like he needs a few more games to reach full fitness.
McCarthy – 5
Did his fare share of running but was outnumbered everytime he got the ball.
Stupid penalty to give away. Did little else. Not good enough Martin.
Excellent all afternoon. Plenty of numbers and plenty of noise.
We need Warnock and Givet back ASAP for West Ham.
Big Sam got this one a bit wrong I am sad to say. We had 7 defenders on the pitch and it was far too negative and showed too much respect to Arsenal.
If we ‘weren’t scared’ it certainly didn’t look like it.
Sam needs to pick the boys up before we play bogey team West Ham.