Arsenal followed what I would describe as a "woman-like" performance against Liverpool on the opening day of the season with a demolishing of newly promoted side Blackpool, winning 6-0. The story of the game will surely be Theo Walcott's performance, scoring 3 goals and be a constant threat on the right wing. It's a shame Fabio wasn't there to see this performance (he was off watching the Wolves - Everton game if you must know).
Controversy struck the game just after the half-hour mark when Chamakh was taken down around the box by the last Blackpool defender, Ian Evatt. He subsequently saw a red card and a penalty given, which Arshavin cooly dispatched in the bottom corner. Replays showed it was a bit harsh to give the tackle a dismissal, but the the rules of the game are the law and he was no doubt the last defender and denying a goal scoring opportunity. The game was effectively over after that turn of events, and Arsenal went on to dominate all areas of the game, including the final score.
On a brighter note, Fabregas and Robin van Persie came of the bench, which caused the stadium to erupt, to play the last half-hour of the game. The latter of the two caused Arsenal fans to hold their breathe when he took a knock and needed treatment, he eventually carried on but did look rather uncomfortable at times.
Almunia: Forced to make one save all game, and he didn't even have to move to catch the tame effort. Could have gone for lunch, took a tour of London, and then come back and no one would have noticed. Arsenal might have done better just putting an 11th field player on!
Sagna: Provided a perfect cross for Diaby to slam home the fourth goal. Wasn't pressured to do much defensively, but provided a good attacking threat overlapping Walcott and than Chamakh as the game went on.
Vermaelen: Similar to Almunia and Sagna, very little was asked of him. The defensive line as a whole looked a tad shaky in the opening 20 mins, but after the opposition were reduced to 10 men, no pressure at all.
Song: Would have never guessed he was playing out of position in the heart of the defense. Constantly was the first defender to pressure the ball, and out muscled a number of Blackpool players for the ball with ease. Looks like he is continuing his form form last season.
Clichy: Didn't even challenge Gary Taylor-Fletcher's free header at the far post in Blackpool's only moment of danger to Arsenal. Could have changed the game had that header hit he back of the net. Like the rest of the Arsenal defense, no pressure at all defensively. Seemed to refuse to cross the ball, unlike fellow French teammate Sagna.
Wilshere: Continued to dwell a bit deeper in the midfield than you would except, played almost a holding role along side Diaby. Offered a fine assist to Walcott for the 3rd goal of the game, and should have score a goal of his own late on, if not for his foot catching the turf before the ball. The crowd urged him to do well, constantly cheering when he had possession. Likely to be replaced by Fabregas in team next week.
Rosicky: Involved in a number of the Arsenal goals, including a flowing build-up to the first goal. Floated between the midfield and strikers, which caused a lot of problems for the Blackpool defense. Offered the vision and touch for a midfield lacking the presence Fabregas and Nasri.
Diaby: Cooly finished Arsenal's fourth goal on a half-volley when most players would have ballooned it over. Wasn't pressured much defensively, but offered his physical presence in the midfield.
Arshavin: Along with Rosicky, was involved in a free-flowing move that lead to a cool finish for Walcott's first. Calmly placed the penalty into the side netting, few keepers could have kept that one out. Should have collected another assist when he put through Chamakh on an open net, only for his teammate to smash the ball with his shin off target. Overall much better performance than he had against Liverpool.
Walcott: Man of the match. Finally showed he can link with the midfield and strikers on the wing. Offered a constant threat down the wing with his pace. Great placement on the first strike to cap off a wonderful move. May have benefited from a blinded keeper on the second goal, and had a great left-footed finished to cap off a stellar performance. He also finally showed some end product, but still could have easily had another goal and had two assists, if he had better technique. Replicating this form will certainly be the goal this season.
Chamakh: Not his best day finishing, but there can be no doubting his ability to be involved on scoring opportunities. Could have had a had trick today if he managed to put his shots on target. No excuses for missing the cross from Arshavin, no keeper, three yards out. Made up for it by heading home Arsenal's sixth and final goal to finish off a good debut at the Emirates. His aerial threat looks to have added another dimension to the Arsenal attack.
Fabregas: Entered to a roaring stadium, not a boo in the lot of them. The Barcelona love fest is long forgotten to Arsenal fans. Came on to build up match fitness no doubt. Came close to scoring off a half-volley. Looked hungry for the ball, should start next week.
van Persie: At fault for taking far too many touches in front of goal. Along with the rest of the Arsenal team in the last half-hour, seemed determined to pass the ball into the net instead of striking the ball. Caused fans to gasp when he went down with a knock, fans will think the worse from now on any time van Persie hits the turf, such a fragile frame and all. How he and Chamakh co-exist on the field will play a huge role for Arsenal this season. Doesn't seem 100% match fit yet.
Vela: Should have scored when played through by RVP, but chose to pass instead. Poor choice. Almost produced a spectacular goal but flicking the ball over three consecutive defenders, only to have the ball end up on his right foot and blocked by a lunging defender. Looked active and deserving of more playing time.
Team Rating: 7.5
Hope to do this more as many Arsenal games this season as possible!
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