Date: 19th August 2007 at 6:55pm
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There was drama throughout at Ewood Park on Sunday as Blackburn Rovers and Arsenal battled out a fiercely competitive draw.

In a pulsating encounter that was always on the verge of exploding both sides will feel they could have won an open game.

Mark Hughes made two changes to the side that started in Finland. Matt Derbyshire and Brett Emerton came in for Jason Roberts and Andre Ooijer respectively.

Rovers kicked proceedings off with an opening flurry of attacking football. Although no serious efforts were mounted it did serve as an indication of Rovers` approach to the game.

Arsenal seemed content to mount the occasional counter attack but eased themselves into the game. However, they took the lead following a howler by Brad Friedel, presenting prolific Robin van Persie with a tap-in.

It was a frustrating case of watching Rovers fail with great hilarity to clear their lines. A nonchalant header into the area by Theo Walcott presented Arsenal debutant Eduardo with a chance. However, he was put off at the last minute leaving Friedel with a comfortable catch. Alas, he spilled the ball and despite the valiant attempts of David Dunn and Ryan Nelsen to clear the ball tricked invitingly into the path of van Persie, who smashed a crisp finish into the bottom corner from six yards.

Rovers looked to respond but were visibly irritated by Arsenal`s away tactics, holding onto the ball, casually taking time out to nurse a knock. The boys in blue and white were letting it get to them and all structure was lost. In this period a number of Rovers players were booked and chances were becoming few and far between, often resorting to Chelsea style long ball tactics.

Set plays were Rovers` only obvious avenue back into this fixture and from a David Bentley free kick, which was whipped in from the right, Nelsen rose but his well guided header came back off the post.

The half came to a conclusion with Rovers looking disjointed and uninspiring with Arsenal demonstrate all the qualities of a sound away performance.

However, a rousing start to the second half was to be a sign of things to come. Rovers charged at their opponents in search of the equaliser using good football and a high tempo that not even the incessant whistling from referee Alan Wiley could stop.

More balls were being thrashed across the Arsenal penalty area seemingly edging Rovers closer each time. Bentley tried from distance in the 53rd minute and Roque Santa Cruz went close with a header.

Then came a moment of controversy. All afternoon the referee had been very quick to blow his whistle and it would appear the consistency of his decisions was lacking. Rovers were feeling a little hard done by due to some of the decisions and were doubly aggrieved just after the hour mark.

An excellent corner swung across by Morten Gamst Pedersen flashed across the area before being diverted goalwards by the stretching Chris Samba. The ball struck the arm of Cesc Fabregas who was the acting sentry on the post. However, Mr. Wiley had blown seconds earlier for an infringement. Replays suggested no-one in Rovers shirt was doing anything wrong so where this decision came from was quite baffling, and proved to be a huge slice of luck for Arsenal.

Rovers rallied though and the equaliser was forthcoming on 72 minutes when the inspirational David Dunn made a surge towards the Arsenal box, exchanged a one-two with Santa Cruz before unleashing a venomous strike at goal.

Despite being very well hit it was straight at goalkeeper, Jens Lehamn, however, he kindly returned the favour Friedel had afforded Arsenal by letting the ball squirm through his fingers and into the back of the net via the post.

What ensued was an open, end to end frenzy littered by numerous instances of bad blood between the sides that saw the youthful immaturities and petulance of some of the Arsenal players shine through. Yellow cards were being issued freely and there was a sense that the game could explode into a brawl at any moment.

In between all this both sides had chances to win, the best of which fell to Nickolas Bendtnar. He nicked the ball around Friedel after the American charged off his line but heroic last ditch defending thwarted the Arsenal attackers on three occasions. A sensational tackle in the area by Stephen Warnock and a tremendous block from Dunn, were standout moments!

However, the controversy wasn`t finished there and a red card was duly issued. It went to Rovers` captain Nelsen after he hauled down van Persie following a smart turn from the wily Dutchman.

A thoroughly entertaining game was once again testament to the strong attitude and quality of Rovers. Arsenal came with a game plan and in some respects were unlucky to see it not quite work. A draw was perhaps a fair result in the end.

Player Ratings

Friedel 5
An uncharacteristically bad performance.

Warnock 8
Made two brilliant last ditch tackles and exuded his normal amounts of energy.

Emerton 6
A steady display.

Samba 7
A bit of a mess in the first half but a great second half.

Nelsen 7
Like Friedel made a few errors. Brilliant in the second half and was unlucky not to score. Sent off.

Bentley 8
Had a licence to play a free role in the second half and was commanding and creative. Lost his rag a little in the first period.

Gamst 6
Drifted in and out of the game.

Savage 7
Worked hard to break up Arsenal’s play but gave away too many silly free-kicks.

Dunn 9

Santa Cruz 7
Lead the line admirably. Chances were at a premium but proved to be a handful for the Arsenal men.

Derbyshire 7
Got in amongst them and showed some moments of brilliance.

Ooijer 6
Came on after the red card. Helped to keep things steady in the final moments.

McCarthy 5
No time to do anything.


44 Replies to “Rovers 1.v.1 Arsenal”

  • I think we deserved at least this point. We out played Arsenal for periods in the second half wich was nice to see following our disjointed and overly aggressive first half display. Still showed our class and that we can miz it with the ‘big boys’!

  • class? Your team is unfortunately turning into a Bolton. That performance was a carbon copy of the Alardyce school of anti-football. What is more disappointing is the crowd at Ewood Park. I hope Derbyshire steps on the hands of everyone who screamed ‘cheat’ at Arsenal players after every display of thuggery by the home side. shame

  • You didnt really dominate. You only created two chances. One hit the post but Lehmann had it covered the other Lehmann *****ed it up. I agree with G4L. I had liked derbyshire before this game. But that was a shamefull hand stomp. Disgracefull actually.

  • G4L and gunnerkid 107..what a load of B****KS. 2 chances??? Gamst hit one into the side netting, Bentley hit a rasping effort, Derbyshire headed one on one with Lehmann….
    And Disgraceful???? your players pathetic attempts at diving, time wasting and “head injuries” was DISGRACEFUL!!!! be thank ful you got one point becuase you sure as hell didnt deserve it.
    The crowd at Ewood are fine thanks… I was there and Arsenal did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING….

  • your ignorance is noted Mikey Gamst. Unfortunately the level of football you watch at Ewood and your criteria for ‘good football’ is as high as Savage’s footballing skills hence the mention of Bentley’s rasping effort and Derbyshire head 1 on 1 as chances. Pathetic to say the least. Again it is a shame as you actually have a few good players.

  • G4L said it all there. I have to comment on one more thing though. Mikey you said the ‘crowd at Ewood are fine’. Thats bull***** and you know it. You have a small ass Stadium and you still cant fill it. There were empty seats all around. Your support is *****ty. 24,917 is terrible attendance. We get more to watch reserve FA cup games. And you want to know why you dont get more people to come is because you consider what you produced today as good football. Its *****. You go around trying to injury people.

  • And you want to talk about time wasting and diving now. The only dive of the whole game came from Savage. It was the most pathetic dive ever. And nobody at Blackburn can talk about time wasting. When you came to the Grove for the FA cup you spent the entire 90 mins timewasting and trying to earn a draw. You barely made it passed your own half. Mikey your ignorance about football shines right through your comments.

  • Christ lads, leave it out. Draw’s about a fair result, Arsenal did more than their fair share of whingeing and moaning, no doubt about it, but we’ll take the point and move on to Goodison next week, regardless of what the gooners have to say.

  • Good point theirish. I must say I have to agree with some of the comments made by Arsenal fans. Sav’s dive was applaing and it did make me whince. Also Sav and Bents, in the first half mainly were being overly aggressive which annoyed me also. Alas, whereas we are labelled ‘violent’ and aggressive, if we are in the business of cursing, then terms like time-wsasting, unsporting, and petulent must be levelled at Arsenal. I also refute the claim that we only had a couple of chances.

  • typical gooners, all the sites are saying how thuggish they were, and are calling arsene a whiner, yet there fans are so one eyed they forget about flamini not getting sent of for a second yellow which he should of got, if that was savage, he would be of

  • ha ha ha ha ha ha… this is a bsolutely price less…. We had more chances than Arsenal, I have no ignorance towards football at all… In enjoy good football. Arsenal normally play great football but they didnt yesterday. Yes our stadium is small, yes we cant fill it but the home support was good yesterday and inspired the players, particulalry towards the end. If you cant see that fine but you drew, youdidnt deserve to win and if you cant see what your players were doing as wrong then maybe, JUST MAYBE, Im not the one who is ignorant.

  • answer me one question guys… how many players got injured??? Apart from Gallas who did that to himself accidently trying to tackle.

  • sorry for all the posts guys but things just keep coming to me… Savage was the only one to dive?!?!? that is the most ignorant and one sided thing Ive heard of. Fulham accused you of it last week and Van Persie running off towards the corner at the end and falling on the floor is a DIVE.

  • and yes we consider what we see from our team good football, if you dont like it or cant see that then again… your ignorant.

  • First of all, a good article. Well done Roversman, and I think factually accurate. I didn’t see any stamp on anyone’s head. It was also missed by MOTD, and other news programmes. Is it available anywhere? I have to say the vocal effort of the fans was brilliant. I didn’t hear the Arsenal once throughout the second half. A good performance I thought, shame the referee’s wasn’t. I didn’t think he trip on Savage was a penalty, as it look outside the box from where I was stood. I think a point was a fair result, upon reflection.

  • Mikey, i’m not going to accuse your team of anything as you do what you can to win a game, fair play imo. What I will say is that Sanchez has since come out and admitted he was wrong and apologised for his daft accusations.

  • Decimus, it wasn’t a foul on Savage full stop, he dived.Kolo’s foot was miles away when Savage tumbled. I’m not going to vilify him for that, unfortunately it is a sympton of the current game. It is not confined to foreigners (and Welsh) either, Rooney and Gerrard to name but 2.

  • A draw was a fair result, overall, and the article above pretty much captures everything well, but for one point (and I will probably be called a whiner for this 🙂 – youthful immaturity and petulance of Arsenal ? I dont have anything against this comment but it surely portrays only one side of the picture when Blackburn were doing far worse. Call a spade a spade, lads. Savage is a disgrace, diving being a symptom of the current game is no excuse for the dive. And his ‘tackling’ (a euphemism for his violence) is going to injure someone badly someday.

  • prits, violence is a clear abuse of the english language and i think you forget that last season savage had his leg broken after a bad challenge on him and savage has only ever been sent off once in his club career for handball so you are mistaken to call his tough tackling violent considering they are men playing a contact sport!

  • prits, i agree with both points. Savage yesterday was at his petulant, hateful, cheating best.He couldn’t get the better of Cesc in footballing terms so he chose another route. The way he threw himself to the floor after Flamini’s challenge was truly embarrassing and his dive for an attempted penalty is cheating. But, some of our players can sometimes show immaturity and petulance themselves during difficult games. To constantly hammer Savage for what so many players now do is just ignorant. For as long as Premiership clubs are willing to pay him thousands of pounds per week to do it he will continue to do so. It takes all sorts as they say. As I have pointed out the likes or Rooney and Gerrard have been guilty of cheating for years and never appear to receive critisism for it.

  • I will agree on everything you say Mikey Gamst – and I will add that RvP’s fall towards the end of the game WAS a DIVE. His tackle on Nelsen I think, was a red card offence as well. Having said that – how many of your players should have stayed on the pitch if that criteria was employed by the ref? Didn’t Bentley scream like being shot after a late tackle from Clichy (for which the latter was booked) only seconds later he was whipping in an excellent cross. Diving? Simulating? You tell me. I never heard anyone (bar roversman – WELL DONE MATE!) scream cheat at him. You are missing the point – and your ignorance is blinding you. You ask the question how many players were injured (bar Gallas). I ask you how many HAVE to get injured in order for you to say that the tactics employed by teams (doesn’t have to be Blackburn at all) should be condoned and sanctioned? Do we have to have a couple of Alf Inge Haalands on the pitch screaming in anguish with blood and guts gashing? Do we have to see bones broken to say that thugs like Savage are out of line? I am not concerned with the result from Ewood, but I am concerned with futures of marvelous talents across the Premiership that are jeopardised by talentless, brainless, classless so-called footballers like Robbie Savage. Brett Emerton was a class footballer when he played in Holland. I admired him immensely – what I see now is just a shade of him – his skills are deteriorating and the only thing he excels in is violence on the pitch.

  • G4L your sentiments about my views; sincere or mocking? Sorry it can be very hard to tell in some of these debates! Oh and prits thank you for taking the time to come over and read my match report. Despite some rather harsh and cynical views, I have to once again commend the majority of the Arsenal Vital crew for engaging in decent and well-constructed debates.

  • Don’t get too excited about the general intelligence of football fans roversman, say something derogatory about our esteemed neighbours and you’ll soon be inundated with name calling and have your parentage called into question:)

  • hatespur, alas you are right. Those from under the shadow of the Emirates regularly rear their ugly heads on our site with the false pretence that they are a ‘top club’. Embarrassingly naive and daft remarks ensue by the poor and disillusioned men in white.

  • I think I backed you up once on here when you had the temerity to claim that Rovers were stooped in rich history. Unfortunately the majority of Spertz fans were born in 1961 and time stopped still in 1962. Which would indeed make them a highly successful club who are the envy of the world.

  • hatespur are you trying to incinuate that Rovers have no history?!!? Well, oh sod it. We have our history that we are proud of, not as grand as some but hey we love our club and what it has achieved. I think our grievance with Spuds fans is that we have won more and been more successful over the last 15ish years (despite relegation) yet they refuse to accept that as if we are making it up!!! Laughable. Oh temerity, great word!

  • G4L. A player does not have to roll on the fall everytime he is fouled. A foul is a foul. However, in todays game, it seems to follow that a foul is life threatening injury, or a head injury. (I’m sure I saw an Arsenal player go over, holding his leg, then he started holding his head so the ref had stop play). I would say every club is guilty of this. Savage is a little on the dramatic side. i wouldn’t say Bentley fains injury, but most challanges on him are the worst you have ever seen, should his fall to the floor be believed. It is an unfortunate part of the game.

  • roversman, quite the opposite. Thankfully I know a little bit of football and am aware that your club has a great deal of history. I think you have mis-read my comment.

  • hatespur, my retort wasn’t an attack at you, just those dimwits from under the Emirates shadow. You can always tell a knowledgeable fan, because their views aren’t the reserve of tunnel vision; thankfully some of the Arsenal faithful derive from a much richer pool!

  • The only thing they are good for in forums is upping your hit list with pointless vitriol. Still, i guess it give them a sense of purpose in life.

  • Decimus I agree and I blame this not on the players. I blame the pi$s poor standard of refereeing. On the other hand I am disappointed in the failure of some of rovers fans to acknowledge that the Blackburn tactics employed, especially in the first half, set the tone to this game which turned out to be everything but a footballing spectacle. You never see Blackburn play like this against Reading or Middlesbrough, do you?

  • I am disappointed by the failure of arsenal to live up to their midweek hype of being able to handle tough teams (even though I don’t think rovers were in any way dirty on sunday). I seem to remember Fabregas waxing lyrical about how he would put his foot in where needed. SO much for that… same old arsenal moaning about how “dirty” their opposition was. You want to play touch-football go elsewhere because the premierships no place for you (maybe take up netball or something)

  • Just for one last time…. 1-1 is fair. We played well, out played Arsenal in the 2nd half, yes were competitive but if you didnt know that then where have you been. Violence insinuates a desire to injure and maim which it wasnt… It was Wengers way of showing once again his ability to see only what he wants to see.

  • And yes Blackburn’s fans are quiet but for the whole of yesterday outsung Arsenal, particularly in the 2nd half. Arsenal fans used to have a home ground which was mockingingly called the library… enough said. Blackburn is a small place and have a small ground get over it….

  • G4L.. It’s true you seemed to cope midweek with a physical opposition. Wenger only moans when the result doesn’t go his way

  • G4L – We play like that against every team. Always committed, always determined. It only seems that the ‘criticism’ comes from the teams who play their home games within the M25.

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