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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 04 Feb 12 at 14:58 PM

Report: Arsenal 7 Rovers 1

The Emirates has rarely been a happy hunting ground for Rovers and that proved to be the case once again on a disappointing afternoon in London.

Rovers had shipped 18 goals on their previous 5 league visits to the home of Arsenal and by full time that record was increased to 25 from 6 after a 7-1 loss.

Robin van Persie set the tone when he struck inside ninety seconds from close-range, and although Morten Gamst Pedersen levelled with a superbly taken free-kick, van Persie grabbed his second with a carbon copy of his first.

By the break Rovers found themselves 3-1 down and a man down. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scoring before Gael Givet was given a straight red for his lunge on van Persie.

The second half wasn't any better for the Lancashire side. Mikel Arteta added a fourth firing through a crowded area before Oxlade-Chamberlain finished off a fine move involving Theo Walcott.

Robin van Persie has a fine record against Rovers and his hat-trick goal came soon after, the Dutchman having time and space to fire home after good work from Francis Coquelin.

The seventh and final goal summed up the miserable afternoon for Rovers, losing possession before van Persie teed up Thierry Henry to complete the rout.


Steve Kean kept faith with the same eleven that performed well without reward against Newcastle United at Ewood Park on Wednesday night, resisting the temptation to give debuts to deadline day signings Bradley Orr and Marcus Olsson.

Whilst Orr made the substitutes bench, there was no place amongst the 18 for Marcus Olsson.

When the two sides met at the Emirates last April Rovers put in a superb display to hold Arsenal to a goalless draw with ten men. On this occasion parity lasted less than 90 seconds in a disaster of a start for the side in yellow which set the tone for the remainder of the game.

There appeared to be little danger as the Gunners made their first foray forward, but when Radosav Petrovic's clearance found makeshift full back Francis Coquelin that all changed. In a flash the ball was worked outside to Theo Walcott and he squared the ball across the six yard box for Robin van Persie to tap home.

It was as easy a goal as the Dutchman will have scored all season, it meant Paul Robinson's first act of the match was to pick the ball out of his own net.

Stunned by the early goal, Rovers struggled to gain any momentum and aside from a sweeping move that almost saw Anthony Modeste get on the end of a Morten Gamst Pedersen cross, it was the home side who dominated proceedings.

Tomas Rosicky saw a shot deflected wide off a diving David Dunn, then after pressure from a corner kick Laurent Koscielny found the roof of the net with a header. A supremely confident Robin van Persie then put an audacious lob just wide of Robinson's goal.

But on 32 it was the home side's turn to be stunned. Modeste had proved to be a real handful for Koscielny in winning a foul 20 yards out. Morten Gamst Pedersen stepped up and hit a sweet free-kick, the Norwegian's strike finding the top corner of the net despite Wojciech Szczesny getting fingertips to the ball.

Could Rovers rally and earn their first double of the season? Unfortunately the following ten minutes couldn't have gone any worse for Steve Kean's side.

Firstly Jason Lowe had to be replaced after injuring an ankle in a poor challenge from Rosicky, Bradley Orr coming on to replace for his debut.

Then Arsenal regained the lead with a goal akin to the first, Alex Song feeding Walcott and again he squared to van Persie to tap home his second of the game.

Two minutes later and Arsenal had daylight, Oxlade-Chamberlain scoring after van Persie had played the youngster in with a sublime through-ball that dissected the Rovers defence.

Then just as you thought things couldn't get any worse Rovers were reduced to ten men. Gael Givet stupidly flying into Robin van Persie with a two-footed challenge leaving referee Andre Marriner with no choice but to show a red card to the Rovers defender.

David Dunn was sacrificed as Grant Hanley was introduced to fill the gap left by Givet's red card.


The first half ended badly for Rovers and the second half started in the same manner with the home side adding three further goals in 15 minutes after the restart.

By 51 minutes the score was 4-1, Mikel Arteta firing through the crowded box after a corner had only partially cleared, before the Rovers defence watched on as Theo Walcott danced his way along the edge of the area to find Oxlade-Chamberlain who added his second of the game.

Goal number six for the Gunners was added just past the hour mark, again the goal came down Arsenal's right, Francis Coquelin having time and space to pick out Robin van Persie who needed no second invitation to grab his third of the game. Unlike his first two he was a little further out on this occasion, but was still afforded too much space to lash home from the penalty spot.

With the game wrapped up with more than 20 minutes to go, Arsenal were able to introduce Thierry Henry and Bacary Sagna as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Laurent Koscielny made way. Yossi Benayoun also introduced for Alex Song.

For Rovers it was a case of damage limitation, Anthony Modeste working hard up front with Morten Gamst Pedersen doing his best to support, but they rarely got out of their own half, let alone sight of the Arsenal goal.

The only surprise was that a seventh goal didn't arrive until added time, but again it was symptomatic of the way Rovers' day had gone, a square pass across the back line saw Thierry Henry capitalise and he found van Persie who squared it back to the Frenchman to apply the finishing touch.

It was a miserable way to end a miserable display and one that they'll need to get out of their system quickly when they face Queens Park Rangers at Ewood Park next Saturday.

ARSENAL: Szczesny, Mertersacker, Vermaelen, Koscielny (sub Sagna 68 mins), Rosicky, Arteta, van Persie (c), Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain (sub Henry 68 mins), Song (sub Benayoun 72 mins), Coquelin.

Subs not used: Fabianski (GK), Park, Ramsey, Arshavin.

ROVERS: Robinson (c), Lowe (sub Orr 36 mins), Dann, Givet, Martin Olsson, Pedersen, Petrovic, Nzonzi, Hoilett, Dunn (sub Hanley 45 mins), Modeste.

Subs not used: Bunn (GK), Formica, Rochina, Goodwillie, Vukcevic.

Booked: Koscielny, Vermaelen (Arsenal), Modeste, Nzonzi, Olsson (Rovers).

Off: Givet (Rovers).

Attendance: 59,643

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