Date: 14th January 2007 at 11:16am
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In dismal conditions, Rovers` recent good form came to end against an irresistible Arsenal side.

Mark Hughes made four changes to the side that comprehensively beat Everton in the F. A. Cup last weekend, the only surprise being the inclusion of Matt Derbyshire from the start.

Rovers kicked off in blustery conditions made worse by a constant downpour of torrential rain. On a boggy pitch both sides eased their way into the game, with Rovers retaining the majority of the possession and Arsenal seemingly content to sit back.

The first chance of note should really have made an impression on the scoreline. Rovers` second corner was whipped in by Morten Gamst Pedersen from the right and Derbyshire evaded his marker inside the six yard box. However, despite making a solid connection he sent his header zipping wide of Jen Lehman`s post with the ‘keeper unmoved.

Rovers were trying to unsettle Arsenal with an aggressive approach and it certainly bothered Gilberto. In the 13th minute Robbie Savage and Gilberto contested for the ball but referee, Rob Styles, blew his whistle because Savage was being over-physical. That was a view shared with Arsenal`s Brazilian midfielder, who promptly lashed out and kicked Savage.

Mr Styles had little hesitation in issuing a red card to the Brazilian. This snap decision completely changed the dynamic of the game.

With both sides seemingly stunned by such a decision early on, the game continued at a snails pace. Conditions were getting worse as thin blankets of rain covered Ewood Park making the pitch heavy and arduous on the legs.

Rovers held the majority of the possession with Arsenal showing glimpses of counter-attacking potential. Brett Emerton tried to inject some life into the contest midway through the half. He picked the ball up wide right and proceeded to maraud across the pitch evading a number of challenges before picking out an unmarked Gamst on the far left of the penalty area.

His thunderous drive towards the near post was expertly tipped over for a corner.

That charge and shot seemed to stir the crowd and, to the beat of the drums and chants of the home fans, Benni McCarthy also went on a charge. He eventually made his way to the edge of the penalty area but his effort on goal was tame and easily blocked.

With Rovers lifting their game Arsenal were aiming to match the home side. They were awarded a free-kick just inside the Rovers half in the 36th minute.

As players ambled into position Thierry Henry produced a moment of brilliance. He elegantly lifted the ball into the area perfectly timed for the run of Kolo Toure, the only Arsenal player in the penalty area, who powerfully headed the ball on target and into the net off the post.

Rovers were visibly stunned and 10-man Arsenal were now content to sit back and absorb an expected onslaught. Rovers struggled to muster anything worthy of note as the half petered away.

Rovers were decidedly lacking in the creative department in the first half so it came as no surprise that Aaron Mokoena was replaced at half-time by Tugay.

The Rovers fans were expecting a determined and aggressive second half display in a bid to restore parity but it never materialised.

Despite the conditions easing in the second period Rovers continued to look lethargic, making heavy work of trying to muster an equaliser. A succession of corners came and went without too much threat to the Arsenal goal.

Shabani Nonda was introduced in place of Andre Ooijer to give Rovers added potency in attack. He should have made an immediate impact following an excellent cross from Gamst.

He picked out Nonda in the area unmarked by the hit-man couldn`t direct his header on target. Moments later and Rovers were cursing their luck again following another dangerous ball from the left by Gamst. This tie Derbyshire was sniffing around for a goal but he couldn`t apply a telling finish to the cross.

Rovers were punished for their profligacy when Thierry Henry confirmed victory in emphatic and mesmerising style.

A rapid break from inside the Arsenal penalty area saw Henry take the ball well into opposition territory before picking out Fabregas. The young Spaniard immediately rolled the ball into Henry`s path and his instantaneous shot fizzed past Friedel and crashed into the net via the underneath of the crossbar.

It was the kind of break and goal Arsenal had been threatening all afternoon. Both Fabregas and Henry had been like snipers choosing their passes and executing them with deadly precision. They had picked Rovers off as they stood their exposed in the monsoon like conditions.

It wasn`t an afternoon to remember for Rovers fans. Rovers were as bad as Arsenal were great.

Player Ratings

Friedel 6
Had nothing to do except pick the ball out of the net following two wonderful goals.

Neill 6
Not one of his best performances in a Rovers shirt and it could well have been his last.

Ooijer 6
Conditions often got the better of him and he looks more comfortable in the centre.

Khizanishvili 7
Defended well at times in tough conditions.

Henchoz 6
Did okay.

Emerton 7
Injected drive and creativity at times but was sloppy at others.

Mokoena 4
An awfully out of soughts first half display

Savage 5
Didn’t affect the game in any other way after getting Gilberto sent off.

Gamst 8
A constant threat on the left and produced a wonderful save from Lehman, just like at the Emirates.

McCarthy 6
A frustrating afternoon for him.

Derbyshire 6
He was lively and is constantly sniffing around in the box. should have scored twice though.

Tugay 6
Brought on the affect the game but did little in that nature.

Nonda 5
Effort again but lacking composure in front of goal again.


18 Replies to “Rovers0.v.2 Arsenal”

  • Arsenal were good value for their win as Rovers put in a dismal display. Very disappointed with the response after going a goal down.

  • They were, clear cut chances weren’t taken Arsenal took their’s from nothing with a fantastic goal from Henry. You can’t win them all; hopefully we’ll learn from this.

  • Ha pedersen was so average. Ur not gonna do much if u play “football” like that. Ur team is a danger to premiership football and it was no surprise that last seaon Mokoena broke a players leg in one of his his first games. Your team seems to forget that even in the premiership there is a techical side to football.

  • Simon you sound like so many other people…..well done on your pearls of wisdom there!!!! If you’re prepared to make a sweeping and rash statement, watch more of our games first. Narrow minded would be a suitable stereotype for yourself, seeing as that is the choice language for the day. My team ratings are for the Rovers players, it is regardless of the opposition. If it makes you feel better, if I had to choose a man of the MATCH then it would be a tough one between Cesc and Henry, prob Henry!

  • I’ve not come here to gloat, nor to brag. I thought we deserved our win yesterday and proved to a lot of people the we are no longer the pushovers we were once percieved to be. The side has come of age. The ref was a proper plonker. It was either two reds or two yellows, no common sense whatsoever. Also tuguy should have gone. Nevermind though. good luck with the rest of your season!

  • Cheers Rocky7. You were indeed excellent value for your win and as per comments posted on your site I thought it was one of the most accomplished displays I have seen. It certainly is a suggestion that you are going to be a force to be reckoned with. Chelsea couldn’t have done that!!!!

  • ahh.. the person who wrote this piece of crap.. “gilberto lashed out”.. sent off for a kick which barely made contact.. and savage.. a tackle from behind and an elbow to the back.. little lily savage gets a yellow.. but ofcurse the rule book says that.. van persie is through on goal.. niell.. the last defender.. brings persie down.. and no sign of red.. of course the rule book says that.. emerton.. a deliberate hand ball when he was on a yellow and then a rugby like tackle on cesc.. retaliation.. but no yellow for that..because thats what the rule book says.. tugay.. very well knowing what he was doing.. he knew he was not getting the ball.. gets cesc on the foot.. but no red for that.. perhaps because the rule book says that dangerous tackles that might put people out of play for months with injury do not merit a red card..
    and yeah.. as an after thought.. i am not taking anything away from blackburn.. i am not bragging.. i am not moaning.. i just want people to use some common sense..

  • I’ll not disagree it wasn’t good football and I’m not proud of it, anything but! We are above that kind of thing; this isn’t what we do ANYMORE. Conditions were poor, didn’t enable for a good game of football really. We were always going to be physical but didn’t expect this. You have to do what you have to do but this was too much, VERY disappointed I have to say we didn’t do ourselves too many favours but simon base your views on the bigger picture not one 90 minutes!!! I base my views of Arsenal on watching them long term not just one below average or poor showing, even several poor showing as I ALWAYS knew they were better than people were saying you are rebuilding and wouldn’t take the years the Spuds have to “rebuild”. You WILL dominate the game again sooner rather than later.

  • No mater what Sav did Gilberto still kicked no matter how minimal it was. If Sav isn’t pulled up its not his fault its Styles’ fault! If Styles thinks that was worthy of a red blame him. I’ve made no secret that is was soft but Styles shows or doesn’t show the cards not Sav, Tugay, Neill or Emerton, they are hardly going to ask for a red even if they deserve it are they, which probably three, if not all four did!

  • In reference to comments made by go4it_adi thank you for the constructive criticism, words of advice such as yours will go a long way in helping me improve my writing. I tell you what buddy had it been the other way around I would prob be saying the same thing. However, my article is a match report that I felt did justice to the events that unfolded. Rovers were poor and could only muster a handful of chances against 10 men. The red card was given because of exactly what I reported. I produced a report that focused on the game and didn’t bellyache for 17 pages about the letter of the law and physical nature of the contest.

    If you take time to read it you will see that is a fair reflection of how both sides played and denotes a complimentary picture of the Gooners. Now shut up with you immature and unimaginative whining. We as Rovers fans are NOT saying you cheated or that Styles was right, quite the opposite so I would take great pleasure if you and your moronic comments were reserved for the pathetic audience that they merit…..yourself!

  • I’m always behind Rovers 100% but I’m not afraid to put my hand up and say if we didn’t play well. I just don’t appreciate opposing fans coming on here shooting their mouth off as if we don’t know. It’s a shame because I have been enjoying chatting to Arsenal fans over the past week and sharing a bit of banter.

  • roversman.. i meant nothing of harm to the blackburn players.. as for my immature thinking.. i dont think u get my point.. i am not blaming blackburn at all for what happened.. i am blaming that **** of a referee rob styles who has already robbed us of a victory before also.. and as for me calling ur article crap.. i would definitely like to apologize for that.. i have been really impressed by the fact that u have taken defeat so well.. it is just that i was not happy with the officiating of the game.. and as an afterthought.. of lately.. i have been seeing rovers as a vastly improving team.. hope to see better things coming from you..

  • With that in mind go4it_adi I too would like to extend an offer of apology for flying off the handle. Combined with the frustration of a poor Rovers display and some abuse from some Arsenal fans, it was just too much. I must apologize for venting my frustration at you. I too must agree that Styles is an idiot. His officiating of the game was poor and that is putting it mildly. His decisions were constantly contradictory and he destroyed what could have been a decent game. Once again I would like to apologise and I look forward to hearing your views in future becuase I do actually quite like to watch Arsenal and I am a huge fan of Fabregas (stems from Champ Manager a good few years ago). All the best for your boys for the remainder of the season, I just hope we can avoid you in the Cup! Thank you for the apology.

  • I dont know why any arsenal fan should apologise for being angry at Blackburn for what were appalling tactics. Yeah D******d Styles was awful & got the decisions wrong (not the sending off of Gilberto which by the law was correct), but its just too easy for people like roversman to put the blame on the ref & not his teams players or manager. The facts are clear, Blackburn have the worst disciplinary record in the premiership & have been near if not at the bottom of that league since Hughes took over. Anyone suggesting Hughes doesnt send out his players to injure others is wearing blue & white tinted specs. The amount of injuries big teams have suffered against Blackburn is no coincidence (Anyone remember Robben, Van Persie etc?) yet laughable Hughes time & again comes out on TV & in the papers claiming like he did after saturday’s game that Blackburn done nothing wrong!! Is not about coming to this site to put Blackburn down or take the p**s, its about putting forward a point of view that is now based on real anger at how rovers decided to play. Commitment doesn’t mean trying to break someone’s leg. Roversman seems quite upset that people dare criticise Blackburn yet he is happy for the blame to lay at the feet of the ref. I ask was it the ref that kicked & smashed a forearm into Gilberto?? Was it the ref who failed RVP?? Was it the ref who tried to break Cesc’s leg & foot or the ref that having been booked decided to throw cesc to the ground??…..No it wasn’t, all those acts were committed by Blackburn Rovers. As I said the ref is partly responsible for not acting but if you dont want opposition fans complaining about the way your players assault certain teams, then I think its your responsibility to make Hughes aware that its not something you want to see. By playing the good football Blackburn are capable of there is no need for your players to go over the top in challenges like they do now. Blackburn would win more games than they would lose & would get a greater respect throughout the whole of football if Hughes would just stop condoning what his players do & get them to keep playing the way they are more than capable of. Blackburn at the Emirates came a lot closer to getting a result than they did saturday & it was all because of the way Mark Hughes told them to play!!

  • Well Ashburton Gooner I suppose that is a fair assessment. We were over physical, exemplified by the media as well, but we don’t help our cause with displays like that. We all now how easy it is to get wound up on a footy pitch and I think that played a part for the lads out there (it doesn’t help when Cesc shows a blatant disregard for us by showing off) but nevertheless the way they responded was nothing short of poor. As for my glasses, well I like to think they suit me! All the best for the Gooners.

  • hey ashburton gooner.. all is well and fine.. u got a point.. i merely apologized for the fact that i was venting out my frustration on a blackburn fan.. who perhaps has realized the fact we all gooners did that day..

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