Following the previous weeks' poor results, is the 7-1 victory another catalyst for a long run of success with Van Persie and co. on form?
The man of the moment: Van Persie claims the match ball after an incredible display (Picture: BBC SPORT)
It was all Guns blazing for Arsenal on Saturday as their Red Van Man delivered, they entered the game against Blackburn low on confidence following three losses and a draw in their previous four games and discontent from Gunners fans ringing out at the Emirates. Yet, the scene couldn’t have been better set for a second revival of the season, centred around the anchor of this Arsenal team and current Captain, Robin Van Persie. The free-scoring Dutchman has bagged 28 goals in 30 games this season whilst contributing 8 assists following this demolition of what was a weakened Blackburn side.
With their defensive rock, Christophe Samba, absent through a continual conflict with the owners, Blackburn had a mountainous task before the game had even started. The problems became evident early on, as it took just over 80 seconds for the talismanic Van Persie to hit the back of the net through some poor defending and hesitancy in the box from the Blackburn back line.
As new signing, 18-year old prodigious talent Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain and fellow traditional winger Walcott got their footing in the game, they managed to exploit the gaps on the wings that were too tempting. Despite the early creation of chances by the North Londoners though, a gift of a free-kick conceded by Laurent Koscielny in a precarious position just outside the edge of the box provided dead ball specialist Morten Gamst Pedersen with an ideal opportunity to equalise which he took in sublime fashion, curling an unstoppable shot into the top left corner - which Szczesny got a hand too but was unable to prevent going in.
This could have, of course, been a moment of weakness in previous weeks, Arsenal could have went on to lose the game, but with the invigoration of the two speed masters on either side of Arsenal’s attack, that was not going to happen. The flare that they offered contributed to the second goal as Song’s incisive pass between Blackburn’s defence released Walcott to set up a one-touch cut back for Van Persie who was not going to miss on such lethal form.
Rapidly, the goals came, Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain added one before half time following a lovely turn and Barcelona-esque pass from Van Persie which released the 18 year old maestro and allowed him to calmly round the onrushing Robinson and slot in, claiming his first league goal for Arsenal.
Before the end of the half though, a moment of madness from Blackburn defender Gael Givet saw Andre Marriner brandish a red card following a calamitous lunge on Arsenal’s star man, Van Persie which could have seen the striker go off injured.
Following the interval, Arsenal started as they finished the first half, cool and composed in defence - a rare commodity this season - and Cameroonian International Alex Song being the unlikely one pulling the strings in the middle of the park with impressive accuracy in his sweeping cross-field passes providing ammunition for Walcott and “The Ox” to drive on down the wings.
After a sustained period of pressure, a weak headed clearance was guided down on the edge of the box by Koscielny before Summer acquisition Mikel Arteta struck a powerful, low shot into the bottom corner via a Blackburn defender to make it 4-1.
It was a raw display of power from Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain. It is easy to get carried away with young talent, but the track record that Arsene has with prodigious talents unproved at the highest level is uncomparable. The pending, but delayed return of fellow youngster Jack Wilshere and the company of wing compatriot Theo Walcott can only enhance AOC's development but there is no doubt, as a powerful and compact winger, he will be an integral part of the England team's future.
Painful memories of Newcastle last season could be forgiven for arising once more as Arsenal found themselves in such a potentially self-combustible predicament again but thankfully the victory was to be sealed with the combination of both wingers following Walcott’s cut in off the right and neat footwork under pressure in the box before sliding a pass to the waiting “Ox” to finish with guile.
The young Englishman was soon to turn catalyst as a lovely cross field ball allowed Francis Coquelin - on a rare surge forward - to deceive Olsson with a neat and skill drag of the foot to create sufficient space to hit an inviting cross that Van Persie - whom had pulled away from his marker slyly - buried to seal his hat-trick.
Yet, there was still time for more. An inevitability and fairy-tale like ending (potentially) to Thierry Henry’s time on loan at the Gunners came in the 90th minute, as the ever lurking predatory skills of Henry allowed him to pounce on a sloppy piece of control from Scott Dann to drive on. With Robin Van Persie arriving, a interchange between the two Arsenal legends resulted in Henry hitting a low shot that deflected in off the recovering Scott Dann to deceive Paul Robinson and make it seven.
An incredibly attacking performance from Arsenal showed all that was good at the Emirates, with the power and speed of two very traditional wingers who are keeping the dying breed alive and the consistency of Robin Van Persie, Arsene Wenger should have no worries about the capabilities of his squad but only the set up to exploit these capabilities. There is no secret that, despite the addition of Per Mertesaker over the Summer window, Arsenal’s defence is still a weak link in their drive for the top four.
Compact, powerful and pacy: AOC redefines the dying breed of the traditional winger
Another issue that could cause worry is over Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain and whether he is a possible late entrée to the Euro 2012 frame of thought for Fabio Capello. Wenger should be aware of the catastrophic impact it had on Walcott in 2010, where the presence of a large tournament stunted Walcott’s development. The Olympics would be an ideal place for “the Ox” to play in order to gain some experience having only played a small number of games at the highest level in England. There is no doubt he has potentially, but there is a case to propose that Wenger and Capello see it develop naturally and not under the excruciating pressure of a European Championship where British media pounce on the slightest problem due to the quintessentially English problem of stuttering at the important tournaments.
It provides food for thought for Wenger, some careful considerations should be made over the forthcoming months as his progress will be monitored closely by the England camp. It is highly likely he will be named in the squad for the rescheduled Netherlands friendly at Wembley soon to allow Capello a greater look at his potential.
With such a convincing win, though, against a Blackburn side that have beaten Manchester United, Arsenal and held Liverpool, it is a promising resurrection to a short spell of ailing form and with three goals and two assists for the mighty Van Persie, he has reaffirmed his place at the top of the game as far as outstanding players are concerned this season. There is no doubt he has benefited from the loss of Cesc Fabregas, though a great player and team-mate, it seems Van Persie feels more comfortable as a role model and leader on the park and that has spurred him on to such a fantastic vein of performances.