We can only wonder what was said in the dressing rooms at the half time break, as Blackburn turned around a 2-1 deficit, taking all 3 points, emerging victorious against an Arsenal outfit lacking the confidence of a top 4 footballing team, 4-3.
With David Goodwillie and Dunn failing fitness tests, Yakubu was handed a debut start up top, with Jason Lowe sitting in midfield for Blackburn.
Salgado, Samba, Dann, Givet
With the Ewood faithful in full voice following a vocal protest outside the ground, Arsenal were always in for a tough encounter, with Blackburn Manager Steve Kean fighting calls for his job, whilst senior Rovers players coming out and insisting they are behind the Scot.
Arsenal took early control of the game, free-flowing football they have become renowned for dominating early procedures. Gervinho looked lively, whilst Van Persie attempted to break at every opportunity. His cause was helped by Arshavin, the Russian’s pace testing Salgado. However it was Song who unlocked the Rovers defence to create the first key opportunity. A surging run ended with a delightful throughball for Gervinho, scoring his first goal after his shot took a minor deflection of Chris Samba. 1-0 Arsenal
Rovers were shaky early on, but signs of an attacking threat came through wingers Ruben Rochina and Junior Hoillet. Both players were lively, taking on their man at every possible opportunity. However a setback for Rovers early on, as Salgado was forced off the pitch, replaced by Serbian Radoslav Petrovic. Lowe slotted into right back whilst Petrovic filled the midfield.
Minutes later, scores were levelled. Junior Hoillet picked up ball in midfield, the Arsenal defenders peeled off, expecting a trademark surging run, however Hoillet split the defence with a deft pass, finding Yakubu who cheekily trickled the ball with the outside of his foot past Sczcesny and into the far corner of the net. 1-1
The crowd lifted as Rovers sensed Arsenal were vulnerable, however it was the Gunners who maintained the pressure. Givet looked vulnerable on the left flank, whilst Gervinho was a constant threat, moving across the front line with ease. With 10 to go in the first half, Arsenal reclaimed the lead. Aaron Ramsey raced down the right flank and into the box, cutting back for Mikel Arteta who had skipped past his marker, blasting into the top corner of the net. 2-1 Arsenal
You could sense there would be more goals in this encounter, and Arsenal would be counting their chances as they should of gone 3-1 up before the break. Arshavin found Gervinho, who decided to dance around in the box, with an unmarked Van Persie screaming to his right. A desperate lunge by Samba deflected Gervinho’s attempt, and sent Rovers into the break down by 1.
The heat was turned up in the second, with some sharp words exchanged in the Rovers shed. Hoillet continued to pressure, whilst Formica decided to involve himself in the encounter. Rovers were given a free kick just outside the box on the right flank 5 minutes in. Up stepped Rochina, his chipped free kick sent into the back of the net by Song, an own goal. 2-2
The equaliser further livened up the atmosphere, both teams now pushing for the winner. Dann was proving to be immense in defence for Rovers, whilst the same couldnt be said for the Arsenal halves. Hoillet whipped in a corner with 30 to go, the loose ball finding an unmarked Nzonzi past the far post. His powerful drive found Yakubu sitting pretty meters out, and a touch offside, however the Assistant waved play on as Yakubu found the net, Blackburn 3 Arsenal 2
Martin Olsson was introduced into the game for Rochina, and the change had immediate results. Scooting down the right flank, Olsson skipped passed his marker, sliding down the by-line before cutting the ball back across goal. With the approaching Yakubu, Arsenal decided to be a bit generous and ensure the ball found the net for the second time, this Koscielny putting the ball in his own net. 4-2 Blackburn
Vukcevic found some game time for Rovers, whilst Arsenal started to push further up the field in the hope of drawing a goal back. Paul Robinson was on his toes though, 2 superb saves from Van Persie. Chamakh though found the net in the 85th minute, heading in from 6 yards out after out-foxing Givet. 4-3 Blackburn
The final 5 minutes plus the additional 4 felt like they went for an hour. Arsenal peppered the Rovers box, forcing Paul Robinson to pull out all the stops, including a 6 yard point blank save, whilst Mertesacker did his part, heading over from 4 yards, ensuring Blackburn take all 3 points and Steve Kean fights to live for another day!
Paul Robinson 8
Immense final 15 minutes ensured Rovers got all 3 points. Would be extremely dissapointed with his positioning on the first goal, and whilst conditions were not the best, his distribution was not up to his standards
Went off early, our worrying lack of depth might become an issue
Scott Dann 8
We have a player on our hands here. He is quality, has great positioning and is not afraid to make a tackle
Chris Samba 7
Led the troops well, just feel their is something missing to his game at the moment, maybe a lack of the Chris Samba agression of old?
Gael Givet 6
Looks to struggle with holding his width. Not sure if he has been given instructions to tuck in, just appears to leave too much space for the opposing winger
Steve Nzonzi 8
Very solid performance from the Frenchman. Took the game to his own, moved the ball well and countered the threat of Song coming through the middle
Jason Lowe 7
Did not see much of the young man at central midfield but did a real solid job when called upon at Right Back
Ruben Rochina 8
Another outrageosly talented player we have coming through. He turns his man with ease, and knows a pass when he sees one
Junior Hoillet 9
Please, contract, now, whatever he wants. A constant threat, can skip around the outside, cut inside, and slot a pass
Mauro Formica 5
Did not see him for 85 of the 90 minutes. Not impressing at the moment
Well well well. A bargin signing he may just become. What a cheeky finish for the first, and in the right place at the right time for the second
Starting to gel into the game. Still needs to work on his explosiveness, but his tackling and passing was much better
Looked extremely dangerous, and faster than normal….Does he deserve a starting spot? Interesting question
Looked a touch off the pace, but showed a nice passing range in the few minutes he had