Arsenal 0 – Blackburn Rovers 1 (Kazim Richards 72)
Man of the Match - Jake Kean (Blackburn)
I am at a complete and utter loss of words at the moment. It has been a horrendous week. Lots of things have boiled over in my work, study and personal life, and when I was hoping Arsenal would flush it all out, in the space of about 2 hours, they end up heaping more misery on me.
After last week’s gutsy display against Sunderland, I was in the high that this was probably a season changing performance. But, here we are, another season on the verge of collapse, and a seemingly 8 year long wait for silverware looks to continue its reach into an unprecedented 9th year.
It was not the loss that irked me, but the nature of the loss that irks me. We lost to a side struggling in the Championship for god’s sake. We go on about how we haven’t lost to lower league opposition ever since Alexander the Great ruled the Mediterranean, but now it has been two losses in the space of 3 months.
There seemed to be no urgency, no creativity, no Plan B, no direct route football, but just a complete growing level of mediocrity. It was the same old football we have been accustomed to, for such a long time now. Really pleasing on the eye, but not on the fans and the results.
Arsenal made a few changes from the squad that narrowly scraped past Sunderland. A centre-back partnership of Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen was reinstated, with Francis Coquelin filling in for the suspended Carl Jenkinson and the rested Bacary Sagna at right-back. In midfield, Arsene started with the trio of Abou Diaby, Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky, while up front, Olivier Giroud was supported by the woeful duo of Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Arsenal attacked with much intent right from the start, and won like a gazillion corners. However, the first real go at goal came when a Diaby header was parried away by Jake Kean, the stan-in for Paul Robinson. And he was at hand again, when a deflected defensive header almost clawed it way in.
Blackburn were defending deep, with Scott Dann and Grant Hanley displaying much solidity. They were successful in thwarting attack after attack. The chance of the first half came, when Tomas Rosicky beautifully found space for Gervinho, who raced past Blackburn’s defence, and with only the keeper to beat, managed to put his shot wide, in typical Gervinho fashion.
The second half was just a carbon copy of the first, just being played on different ends. Blackburn created the first chance, when Vermaelen cleared the danger off Olsson’s cross. Mikel Arteta then headed away a goal bound effort. Arsenal were creating chances, no one was taking them, Arsenal were whizzing the ball around, Blackburn were clearing them.
Tomas Rosicky rewinded the years, and took some long range shots. One went wide. The other, struck the cross bar. Gervinho’s effort from inside the box was blocked, while a long range Diaby shot was eventually scrambled safely by Kean.
Arsenal made changes in the 70th minute, bringing on the diminutive trio of Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott. But, seconds later, Blackburn dealt the suckerpunch. An Olsson shot from the left was parried right into the path of Kazim-Richards, who did not make a clean connection with the ball, but managed to glide it into the net, past a stranded Vermaelen.
Arsenal huffed and puffed to score the equalizer, but it just wasn’t our day. Monreal dragged a shot wide, before a Walcott header was saved by Kean. In the dying moments, Giroud forced a save off Kean, which eventually fell to Arteta, but he could only find the side netting.
And, bang, out of the FA Cup. It was another all too familiar story. I don’t even want to delve into the negatives. There was just a horde of boos at the end of the game, and supposedly the team got a real go from the boss for nearly 50 minutes, if BBC reports are to be believed.
Hopefully, they were given such an ass rollicking, to remind them of how poor and lethargic they have become. At this rate, Bayern Munich on Tuesday could be a painful proposition.
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Go ahead you lazy bum, that’s all I ask of you!