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Match Report


Posted Sun 04 Oct 09 at 16:15 PM

Report: Arsenal 6 Rovers 2

A Cesc Fabregas inspired Arsenal inflicted a heavy 6-2 defeat on Rovers at the Emirates.

The Spanish international played an influential role in all but one of the home side's goals as Rovers lost on their travels yet again.

But that didn't tell the whole story as Rovers twice took the lead in a pulsating encounter. Steven Nzonzi heading Rovers in front with his first goal in English football after just four minutes.

Then David Dunn cancelled out Thomas Vermaelen's leveller for his fourth of the campaign.

But two more influential passes from Fabregas saw Arsenal lead at the break as goals from van Persie and Arshavin saw the Gunners take control.

How the game would have panned out had David Dunn been correctly awarded a penalty three minutes after the restart who knows, the Rovers man upended in the area by Vermaelen in what seemed a clear penalty kick but referee Peter Walton was unmoved.

That proved to be a pivotal moment as Arsenal moved up a gear and away from Rovers. Fabregas volleyed brilliantly for a fourth, then teed up Walcott for a fifth.

At the other end Junior Hoilett saw his goalbound effort headed onto the woodwork, whilst Martin Olsson's volley was tipped around the post.

Robinson denied further attempts at goal until the 90th minute when substitue Nicklas Bendtner added goal number six.

Watch the match highlights on Rovers Player

Rovers were dealt a blow before kick-off with the news that both Chris Samba and Ryan Nelsen had failed to recover from ankle and back injuries respectively ahead of the match at the Emirates.

That meant Sam Allardyce had to field an untried back four of Lars Jacobsen, Pascal Chimbonda, Gael Givet and Martin Olsson.

Keith Andrews replaced the suspended Morten Gamst Pedersen in the centre of the park, whilst there was a first league start of the season for Brett Emerton. The Australian preferred to Morten Gamst Pedersen who dropped to the bench.

Despite those four changes, Rovers couldn't have asked for a better start when they took the lead after just four minutes.

A free-kick from Paul Robinson picked out a leaping Steven Nzonzi and his back-header looped over Arsenal goalkeeper Vito Mannone and into the back of the net.

It was the young midfielder's first goal in English football and didn't he enjoy it.

Inevitably Arsenal roared back and almost levelled on ten when Cesc Fabregas crashed a head off the cross bar. The Andrey Arshavin flashed an effort across goal and narrowly wide of the far post.

But just past the quarter hour Arsenal's pressure told. Abou Diaby bringing the ball forward, Cesc Fabregas laid the ball back and Belgium defender Thomas Vermaelen added to his growing reputation with a wonderfully struck shot from 25 yards that gave Robinson no chance.

The Arsenal captain Fabregas was at the heart of everything that was good for the home side. Twice the Spaniard let fly at the Rovers goal, but twice Paul Robinson was equal to his efforts.

It was from one such strike on the half hour that Rovers broke away to re-take the lead. Robinson diving to push the ball aside, the mantle was picked up by El-Hadji Diouf who switched play out to the right for the quick running Brett Emerton. He in turn found David Dunn on the edge of the area, and the Rovers forward cut inside to clip the ball into the corner of the net via the legs of Gallas.

It was Dunn's fourth goal of the season.

But the lead lasted just two minutes as once again Arsenal's incisive play cut Rovers open. Fabregas with a perfectly time ball to find Robin van Persie's forward run and the Dutchman fired into the far corner of the net.

Any hope of Rovers holding out until the break was quickly extinguished as a fifth first half goal was scored on 37 minutes.

Fabregas was again the architect, this time slipping the ball past Jacobsen and into the path of Arshavin and the Russian fired under Robinson to make it 3-2 to the home side.

Neither side made a change at the break as Rovers started the second period strongly and within two minutes of the restart came what could have been the pivotal decision of the match.

Franco Di Santo showed great persistance to rob William Gallas of the ball and feed David Dunn, as the Arsenal defence retreated he ran into the area and went down under the challenge of Vermaelen. Dunn appealed for a spot-kick but his claims were in vain as Peter Walton was unmoved. Replays showed that the Arsenal defender took Dunn's legs.

Unbowed Rovers came forward again, a Dunn free-kick was cleared only as far as Martin Olsson, the Swede let fly from 30 yards but saw Mannone tipped aside his goalbound volley.

As ever at the Emirates those missed opportunities proved costly as Arsenal extended their lead just before the hour mark.

There may have been some fortune about the way Tomas Rosicky found Cesc Fabregas with an overhead kick, but there was certainly nothing fortunate about the strike, the Spaniard lashing home on the half-volley to put Arsenal further in front.

David Dunn, who had run himself into the ground, was replaced by Benni McCarthy on the hour, but his appearance was fleeting due to injury. The South African saw a free-kick saved, but an ankle injury put paid to his match and was replaced ten minutes later by Junior Hoilett.

At the same time as Hoilett's introduction, Arsenal also made a change bringing on Theo Walcott. One player would go onto hit the woodwork, the other would find the back of the net.

The one that struck that post was wearing the navy of Rovers, Lars Jacobsen had gone round the back of the Arsenal defence, the ball cleared only as far as the Canadian who volleyed goalwards only to see Vermaelen head onto the woodwork and away.

Two minutes later Fabregas started a swift Arsenal counter before finding Walcott who fired post Robinson to put daylight between the two sides.

Robinson denied Bendtner, Walcott and Song, but was powerless to stop Nicklas Bendtner adding a sixth in the final minute with a shot from the edge of the area that crashed in off the post.

It would have been a tough proposition had Rovers had their first-choice defence available, and against a Fabregas inspired Arsenal they certainly put up a fight, but ultimately they were no match for Arsenal's sensational attacking play.

In December 2006 Rovers had the audacity to take the lead and ended up on the end of a 6-2 beating, unfortunately it was the same story once again.

ARSENAL: Mannone, Diaby, Sagna, Fabregas (c) (sub Ramsey 76 mins), Vermaelen, Rosicky, Gallas, van Persie, Song, Clichy, Arshavin (sub Bendtner 76 mins).

Subs not used: Szczesny (GK), Walcott, Silvestre, Eboue, Gibbs.

ROVERS: Robinson (c), Jacobsen, Chimbonda, Givet, Olsson, Emerton (sub Pedersen 55 mins), Andrews, Nzonzi, Diouf, Dunn (sub McCarthy 62 mins (sub Hoilett 70 mins)), Di Santo.

Subs not used: Brown (GK), Kalinic, Salgado, Jones.

Booked: van Persie (Arsenal), Di Santo (Rovers)

Attendance: 59,431

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