Wenger's woes deepen as defence crumbles again
Published 18/09/2011 | 05:00
Blackburn quite incredibly ended up delivering on Chris Samba's promise to make Arsenal's life a living hell, all the more surprisingly given that for almost an hour the visitors looked to have only the weather to worry about.
Arsenal twice took the lead and should never have lost in such a slapdash manner, yet once again they contributed to their own downfall to the extent that the supposedly unhappy Blackburn fans were speculating before the end that this could be another 8-2.
The soggiest Saturday of the season so far all but washed away the protest march against Steve Kean before kick-off. A few hundred supporters made their point as they were escorted to the ground by police.
"We showed what we are all about today," Kean said after the game. "We dug in and struck on the break. I was disappointed that people felt the need to demonstrate but hopefully we sent everyone home happy."
Everyone except Arsenal. Two visits to the north-west have resulted in 12 goals conceded and no points won. The Gunners have a mere four points from their opening five games, and have been beaten three times already.
"It is not good enough," Arsene Wenger accepted. "We should not come here and concede four goals, especially from a position where we are 2-1 up. We do not seem to have the capability to keep our defensive focus for 90 minutes, and you cannot expect to win matches if you give away cheap goals."
It was the Blackburn supporters who had been expecting that, or possibly cheap goals, in view of their low opinion of Venky's, their owners.
Yet when a clever ball forward by Alex Song split the Rovers defence to allow Gervinho to claim his first league goal for Arsenal after just 10 minutes there were no dissatisfied rumblings from the terraces, and to their credit Blackburn managed to give their fans something to cheer about by getting level midway through the first half.
This time it was Yakubu's turn to score a first goal for his new club, and though the former Everton striker was slightly fortunate to be in the right place for Junior Hoilett's pass as he wandered back from an offside position, there was nothing wrong with the deft single touch that stranded Wojciech Szczesny.
Players were beginning to lose their footing as rain hammered down, though Arsenal produced some of their brightest football and could have scored through Andrey Arshavin and Gervinho in addition to the goal from Mikel Arteta that restored their lead by the interval.
Another first-time scorer for a new club, all Arteta had to do was crash the ball home from near the penalty spot after Aaron Ramsey's shrewd run and perfect square ball had created the opportunity.
So Arsenal had little to excuse what befell them at the start of the second half, especially as their inability to defend set-pieces reached ludicrous new heights when Song turned Ruben Rochina's free-kick past his own goalkeeper under no particular pressure.
With the Rovers fans noisily backing their side, Arsenal went from bad to worse. Another set-piece led to another goal for Yakubu, standing level on the six-yard line to get the last touch to Steven Nzonzi's low cross after collecting a corner at the back of the area,
Then almost laughably Arsenal contributed a second own goal, Laurent Koscielny diverting the ball into his own net after Szczesny had failed to cut out Martin Olsson's firmly struck cut-back from the byline. The way Yakubu, of all people, had sent the substitute skipping down the right to easily evade Johan Djourou's rushed challenge, and enjoy the freedom of an empty Arsenal half to run at, will give Wenger sleepless nights.
Paul Robinson made a couple of good saves before Marouane Chamakh's well-taken goal five minutes from time gave the scoreline some respectability from Arsenal's point of view and a better indication of the balance of the game, though conceding four goals to Blackburn is almost as bad as shipping eight at Old Trafford.
That is not to take anything away from a spirited and energetic Blackburn performance.
This always promised to be a day for Kean to remember, and amid frantic scenes at the end, after Per Mertesacker had headed over and Robin van Persie struck a shot at Robinson with stoppage time chances to claim a point, it was. Observer
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