LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 04: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of Arsenal celebrates after he scores Arsenals third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Blackburn Rovers at Emirates Stadium on February 4, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
1 - 0 Robin van Persie 2'
1 - 1 Morten Gamst Pedersen 30'
2 - 1 Robin van Persie 38'
3 - 1 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 40'
Gael Givet, Red Card 43'
4 - 1 Mikel Arteta, 50'
5 - 1 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 53'
6 - 1 Robin van Persie 62'
7 - 1 Thierry Henry 93'
Arsenal came into the match today under a lot of pressure to win in order to stay within touching distance of fourth place. They would not disappoint, always dominant, even after a Pedersen free kick would equalize for Blackburn on a half hour in a familiar scenario for the Gunners. Robin van Persie would score a hat trick, Thierry Henry scored his first league goal for the club since 2007, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had a pair for his first two Premier League goals in his career.
Yeah; it was a pretty good day. Come with us after the jump for how the action went down.
It wouldn't take long for Arsenal to strike. 90 seconds in, Francis Coquelin's cross came back to him, he waited, played Walcott through, and the man without a footballing brain slotted a wonderful pass across Paul Robinson behind the Rovers defense which Robin van Persie tapped home.
1-0 after 90 seconds.
Blackburn would try to break down the right, but Per Mertesacker was able to clear. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came storming back up the pitch, but tried to do it all himself, and his shot was well wide. Arsenal had the match by the throat, and kept coming. Chamberlain shot a low cross in front of goal, but nobody was home at the far post to tap in on ten minutes. Blackburn did try to come back into the match, of course. Laurent Koscielny was left stranded in teh corner, and his desperate clearance fell right to Blackburn in a desperate position. Anthony Modeste tried to get onto the end of the through ball, but caught Wojciech Szczesny on the knee instead. Everyone was allright, though.
The pace of the game had slowed, but Arsenal were influencing things for the most part. Tomas Rosicky had a shot blocked on 21 minutes. Chamberlain was giving Rovers some issues, won a corner, and from that eventually Rosicky got another chance, which he flashed a yard wide from 20. Another corner, though, and then another, which Mertesacker nearly headed into the path of Koscielny, but it went just over the bar.
Stephen Nzonzi picked up a yellow for a late tackle on Rosicky. The game trundled on until the 31st minute, when Koscielny tangled with Modeste and seemed to pull him down. A yellow for Koscielny, and a free kick to Blackburn from 20 yards.
Morten Gamst Pedersen made no mistake. Szczesny got a hand to it, but he couldn't keep it out. Blackburn's first shot of the match was in, and it was 1-1 with 32 minutes gone.
It was a great free kick. It was completely against the run of play. It seemed all too familiar.
Tomas Rosicky went hard through Jason Lowe, and unfortunately, the fullback's ankle got hit hard, and he had to be replaced by Bradley Orr. Paul Robinson lofted the free kick in, but Nzonzi was offside.
It wouldn't take long for Arsenal to find their feet again. Alex Song played a wonderful ball through for Walcott, and he got to the byline, cut back, and van Persie plopped it in, no problem.
Soon to be 3-1. Robin van Persie squeezed a through ball between the legs of the Blackburn defense, and Chamberlain ran onto it, rounded Robinson, and slotted home, a lovely finish for his first Premier League goal. Arsenal were now back in control on 41 minutes, although with Blackburn, one never knows.
Rovers would make it harder on themselves, though. A minute later, Gael Givet went in with both feet, studs up, on van Persie, and there was no hesitation: red card. Blackburn would play the next 47 minutes plus with ten.
From a short corner, Mikel Arteta spotted Vermaelen at the far post, but his volley hit the outside of the post. Arsenal were really up for it now as injury time wore on. 3-1 was the score at halftime, Blackburn down to ten.
The teams came back on for the second half. Bradley Orr had a pop from 20, but Szczesny caught easily. Even down to ten men, Rovers were always dangerous from set pieces, although Robinson's lofted free kick was headed away by Mertesacker on 49 minutes no problem.
Arsenal won a corner on 52 minutes, and it was half-cleared, but Mikel Arteta stepped up and crushed it home off of Orr. 4-1 to the Arsenal, which happens when one shoots.
It wouldn't take long to get 5-1, either. Theo Walcott was released up the right by a lovely long pass from Rosicky, and the wing slowly came infield, then across the Rovers defense, still going, before he slotted a short through ball for Chamberlain, who buried it inside the post for his second of the game and second of his Arsenal career. It was very much Arsenal now, goal difference slowly being remedied.
57 minutes in, Junior Hoilett made a good run that Thomas Vermaelen stopped, but at the expense of giving away a foul and hurting his hip. Hopefully it won't prove to be serious. The free kick, this time, Pedersen couldn't deliver anywhere but into the wall. Arsenal came up the other end, Chamberlain doing wonderful work again, patiently waiting to loft a cross to the far post which Arteta blasted over on the volley in an ambitious moment.
61 minutes in, it was only going to get worse for Blackburn. Tomas Rosicky swung it out to Chamberlain, who put it across to Coquelin on the right wing. One move to beat the fullback later, Coquelin slid a low hard cross in to van Persie, who first-timed it very well with his right past Robinson.
6-1. Blackburn weren't even really trying anymore, the will to live having been sapped with Givet's dismissal.
Theo Walcott wanted some, but he volleyed over from a corner. Chamberlain took one touch too heavily and a chance disappeared on 67 minutes.
Thierry Henry came on for Chamberlain, who went off to rousing cheers, of course. Bacary Sagna replaced Laurent Koscielny, which seemed odd, but hey. Four minutes later, Yossi Benayoun replaced Alex Song, Wenger apparently content to leave on van Persie (clearly because he hasn't played enough Football Manager).
Not that Henry wasn't up for it--he lacks pace at this point, but he still almost glided into the penalty area on 77 minutes. It was all Arsenal. They were trying to tee up Henry, basically, at this point. Vermaelen picked up a yellow for no reason at all.
Late on, 92 minutes in, a van Persie cross fell to Benayoun, whose shot was well struck, but right at Paul Robinson.
In the last minute, Thierry Henry escaped. He couldn't totally break away, but laying it off for van Persie, he carried on, and there was only one result--van Persie slid it back to Henry in the box, and it was 7-1, Henry's first league goal for Arsenal in five years, and the last kick of the match.
It was about as perfect a day at the Emirates as one could hope for, and the perfect way for Arsenal to get back on track. Goal difference massively helped, three points, pressure on Chelsea for tomorrow, who face Manchester United.