In which RVP scores a sublime hat trick. In which the Ox is unleashed. In which Song continues to find his passing groove. In which Thierry Henry scores his first Premiership goal on his return. In which Theo Walcott made the right choices. In which Frances Coquelin showed why the flanks are so important. In which Kos outsprinted Junior Hoillet in a foot race.
The sub headers were many. But they all pointed to a day when Arsenal played like the side they are capable of. The passing was crisp, incisive, and most tellingly the finishes were lethal. Arsenal were also able to slice the Blackburn open because of the meaningful movement down the channels. In one match, Arsenal solved their eternal conundrum of passing the ball to death without anything to show for it. The greatest feeling was to get the Emirates crowd back into it and by the end of the match on one of the coldest days, there was plenty of warm feelings going around. Not a moment too soon, a look around the stadium revealed many empty seats and whether it was the weather, the spotty train service, or a general malaise towards the club over their recent performances, the fact was Arsenal needed a giant size boost.
The margin also goes a long way in erasing an adverse goal differential which if the race continues to tighten up will be key in deciding who lands that coveted fourth spot. Arsenal are back in fifth awaiting Chelsea, Liverpool, and Newcastle. But the nuts and bolts can wait.
Today, RVP got things started in the first minute and a half flicking in Frances Coquelin's finely placed cross.
Morton Gamst Pedersen's very nicely struck free kick broke the one way flow. Wojciech Szczesny was able to get his fingertips on the ball but not enough to push out of the way. Just when Blackburn looked like getting a toehold on the match, Gael Givet was red carded as he clattered into RVP with a mindless two footed lunge clipped RVP, a deserved sending off. To his credit, the French defender made amends by signaling his contrition to Wenger as he walked off the field.
Arsenal got back on track as Song's beautifully measured pass that quadrisected (yes, it sliced through 4 defenders) was reeled in by Walcott to find RVP for his second goal. Song is becoming that hidden layer after peeling away the strikers, beyond the midfield supply line, lying deep to which the cover can't get to - his passes were more incisive and visionary than Arteta and Rosicky. The third goal showed the damage a rampant Ox could do as RVP with sublime trickery got the ball onto his left foot to send the ball scooting forward. The winger streaming from the left got a heavy touch and the ball squirted across goal but a burst of acceleration allowed him to recover and squeeze it past Paul Robinson.
Mikel Arteta got into the act as Blackburn could not clear their lines from a corner kick and the ball fell invitingly for the former Everton player to blast the ball on the half volley to get Arsenal's fourth after a helpful deflection. Then it was the Ox finishing off Walcott's heads up play, as the winger showed signs of cognition to match that speed. RVP collected his hat trick and Arsenal's sixth as Coquelin fed him another beautifully incisive cross. By this time a goal by the King would be the cherry on top and it duly arrived as RVP passed up a definite scoring opportunity to oblige Thierry Henry with a pass which he duly put past through Paul Robinson, a familiar victim.
The result lifts the Arsenal faithful whose mood before this match resembled something of a black hole of emotions. Next, a revitalized Sunderland under Martin O'Neill before their Champions League first leg against Milan. No rest for the weary.