Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Gunners Find Their Form: Arsenal 7 - Blackburn 1

This was a game the  Gunners desperately needed. After a goalless midweek draw at Bolton and falling to 7th place in the league table, anything less than a comprehensive victory against lowly Blackburn at home would have amounted to capitulation in the race for a Champions' League. The Arsenal players knew it, and played with a combination of spirit and precision that has seemed in short supply throughout the season.

This was a total team performance, featuring a hat trick from RvP (ho-hum), two goals from the skyrocketing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (was Fabio Capello watching?), and single goals from Mike Arteta and Thierry Henry. But it wasn't just the goal scorers who shined. Every player on the field contributed fine performances, most notably including the oft-maligned (by me) Theo Walcott and Alex Song, both of whom created two or more of the goals with precision passes that cut open the Blackburn defense or crosses that were right on target.

Truth be told, Blackburn didn't put up much of a fight, especially after they were reduced to ten men on a straight red card just before the end of the first half. Nevertheless, this was by some margin the best total team performance by the Gunners all season. The running, positioning, and passing were superb throughout, and there was never any let up; they kept the pressure on for a full 90 minutes - something they haven't managed to do throughout the campaign. They will have to be maintain this kind of form more consistently during final the run in, if they are to maintain their perfect record of Champions' League qualification. At least now we know they have it in them.

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