Post-Match Report

Blackburn Rovers 1-0 Arsenal - Report

Blackburn Rovers -

Ewood Park
Barclays Premier League
Barclays Premier League
  Blackburn Rovers
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Blackburn Rovers
1 0
  Arsenal
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Arsenal

While Arsenal are whistling the happiest of tunes in Europe, back in the English Premiership, the malady lingers on.

Arsène Wenger's side returned from Real Madrid in midweek with a crucial one-goal lead in their Champions League tie and the determination to correct their errant away form away in domestic competition.

They could not do it on Saturday. At Blackburn, Arsenal slipped to their eighth away defeat in the Premiership. In doing so, they dropped below Mark Hughes' combative side in the table.

The fourth and final Champions League spot seems a long way away at the moment.   Arsenal started brightly but Morten Gamst Pedersen's goal in the 18th minute knocked them off their stride. Blackburn might have added to their lead before and after the interval but the final half-hour was all Arsenal.

Emmanuel Adebayor and the excellent Francesc Fabregas spurned their best chances as they stormed forward. On another day, the visitors might have even won the game given the pressure they created.

But, yet again on a Premiership away day, it was just not to be.

Wenger made two changes from the team that performed so marvelously in Madrid. The return of Adebayor, cup-tied in midweek, pushed Alexander Hleb down to the bench. Abou Diaby replaced Freddie Ljungberg who had picked up a calf injury at the Bernabeu.

Injury denied Blackburn the service of ex-Arsenal striker Paul Dickov. Another more recent acquisition from Highbury, David Bentley, began on the bench.

For the first 15 minutes, the Madrid magic seemed to be casting another spell on Ewood Park. Arsenal were sparky, inventive and, crucially, they were winning their fair share of tackles.

However all their attractive approach play never muddied Brad Friedel's gloves. They would be made to pay.

In the 18th minute Craig Bellamy collected the ball on the right and ran at Senderos down the flank. The Welsh striker barged his way past the Swiss defender, reached the byline before cutting the ball back for the fast-approaching Pedersen to bundle home from close range.

The goal changed the game. Suddenly Blackburn had the buoyancy that had seen them rise to sixth in the Premiership table while Arsenal were the bashful outfit that had lost seven of 13 away games this season in the League.   Andy Todd nearly flicked home at the far post after Tugay had volley a corner toward goal. Soon afterwards, Savage spurned a similar chance over the bar following a miscued drive by Steven Reid.

Arsenal's only real chance of the half came six minutes before the whistle. Henry crossed from the left and Senderos flicked the ball past the near post.

At the break, Wenger replaced Reyes with Pires. It did not have the desired effect. Blackburn looked the more likely side to score while Arsenal were not offering much threat at the other end.

Toure cut out Bellamy's at the near post and Eboue dispossessed Florent Sinama Pongelle as the Liverpool loanee looked set to go clear.

At the other end, Senderos nodded a Fabergas corner just over the bar when he might have done better.

The game had always been pacy and competitive but now it was becoming open. Play was starting to sweep from end to end. It helped Arsenal. Just after Hleb had replaced Diaby, the Belarusian midfielder helped Henry feed Fabregas on the left. The Spaniard's shot was poor.

Two minutes later Fabregas sent a gorgeous chip to Adebayor eight yards out. The Togolese striker managed to hook his foot around the ball but Friedel brought off a great save from point-blank range.

Arsenal were pouring forward now. Pires and Henry spurned the opportunity to shoot only for Eboue hack his effort over the bar.

Pires did likewise a few minutes later but in-between Arsenal had decent shout for a penalty when Fabregas was brought down as he went scuttling through on the right of the area.

With eight minutes left Wenger threw on his last card. Arturo Lupoli, just 18, came on for Gilberto and Arsenal switched to 4-3-3.

Despite everything, the needed goal never came.

 
[IMG: 58985 alt="Adebayor emerges at Ewood Park" width="230" height="230" ]

Adebayor emerges at Ewood Park

[IMG: 58986 alt="Hleb gets away from Gray" width="230" height="230" ]

Hleb gets away from Gray

 
[IMG: 58987 alt="Savage impedes Eboue" width="230" height="230" ]

Savage impedes Eboue

[IMG: 58988 alt="Diaby strides forwards" width="230" height="230" ]

Diaby strides forwards

 
[IMG: 58989 alt="Fabregas tangles with Nelsen" width="230" height="230" ]

Fabregas tangles with Nelsen

Uriah Rennie and Thierry Henry chat

Referee: Uriah Rennie
Attendance: 22504