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02 December 2023

Dominant Gunners turn back the clock to shoot down Rovers

By Reuters

A hat-trick from a Dutchman, a goal from Thierry Henry and a crushing 7-1 victory on Saturday had Arsenal fans dreaming of the old days as they beat Blackburn Rovers for their first Premier League win of 2012. 

Robin Van Persie echoed the feats of his revered compatriot Dennis Bergkamp with three goals that lifted him one above the former Dutch master in Arsenal's all-time scoring list with 123 goals while Henry extended his all-time scoring club record to 228 with the last kick of the game. 

It was the kind of day Arsenal used to enjoy when they were regularly winning trophies under Wenger less than a decade ago and the perfect finale came in the last minute. 

In what might well be Henry's last appearance at the Emirates in an Arsenal shirt - unless his loan deal from New York Red Bulls is extended to include Arsenal's next home League game against arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur in two weeks - the Frenchman pounced and scored. 

The Arsenal fans who threatened to put black bin bags on any empty seats to symbolise the "rubbish" they believe Wenger's men have served up this season, were left wondering why they did not play with this kind of flair more often. 

The supporters also had the first two Premier League goals from impressive teenager Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to celebrate and a strike from Mikel Arteta as Arsenal chalked up their biggest win since moving to the Emirates in 2006. 

More importantly, they ended a run of four league games without a win, moved up from seventh to fifth and to within two points of fourth-placed Chelsea in the table, and began to believe again that they will finish in the top four as they have done every season since 1997.   


Blackburn, however were poor, and after cancelling out Van Persie's opening goal with a free-kick by Morten Gamst Pedersen after 31 minutes, quickly fell behind again and had no chance of saving the match after Gael Givet was sent off for a two-footed lunge on Van Persie two minutes before halftime. 

"We were in a little bit of a crisis," manager Wenger told Sky Sports. "It was important that we had a comfortable day today and that we got the three points we highly needed." 

It took Arsenal just 82 seconds to take the lead through Van Persie after good work by Theo Walcott, and although Blackburn pulled level 29 minutes later, the Gunners then shot Blackburn down with five goals in 24 minutes with Van Persie (2), Oxlade-Chamberlain (2) and Arteta all on target as Arsenal led 6-1 after 62 minutes. 

Van Persie has now scored 28 goals in all competitions this season, and is now 10th on the club's all-time scoring list with 123 goals, just two behind old timers Joe Hulme, who scored 125 times between 1926-38 and David Jack who got 124 in the same era. 

The icing on the cake came from Henry, who came on for Oxlade-Chamberlain after 68 minutes and in the last minute of stoppage time exchanged passes with Van Persie to score the second goal of his loan spell, following one on his first appearance against Leeds United in the FA Cup on Jan.9. 

While Arsenal were revelling in their success, Rovers manager Steve Kean was back under pressure with relegation likely for the 19th-ranked team.  

"It wasn't a nice afternoon for us," he told Sky Sports. 

"Because the two biggest things that affected the game were the early goal, and then massively, the sending off. When you come to a place like this against an Arsenal side who are very good at keeping the ball, it's tough enough with 11 v 11. 

"When you have to do it with 10 men, it's really tough because Arsenal could find the spare player in midfield. It was a massive point in the game."