EPL: Arsenal 7 Blackburn 1

Arsenal recorded their first Premier
League win of the calendar year after
they hammered Blackburn 7-1 at the
Emirates on Saturday.
Robin Van Persie tapped home in the
opening two minutes before Morten
Gamst Pedersen equalized with a well-
struck free-kick.
The Gunners captain scored an almost
identical second before turning provider
with a sumptuous pass to feed in Alex
Oxlade-Chamberlain for the third.
After the interval Mikel Arteta sunk a low
drive from the edge of the area before
Oxlade-Chamberlain bagged his second, Van
Persie his hat-trick and substitute Thierry Henry put the icing on the cake.
It was a display from the home side which
quashed any doubts about their proficiency in front of goal, sustaining the Gunners’ assault on a top-four Premier League finish.
Changes from the sides who both failed to score in their last Premier League outings were few and far between. Steve Kean kept faith with the same line-up, while Arsene Wenger brought in Francis Coquelin and Tomas Rosicky to replace Bacary Sagna and Aaron Ramsey.
The home side had no such problems breaking the deadlock this time round, with Van Persie breaching the Rovers defensive within seconds.
Coquelin fed in Theo Walcott down the right
hand side of the box, before squaring for the
Gunners captain to tap home into the unguarded net.
From there on Arsenal probed, with Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain afforded plenty of time down the flanks. Rosicky narrowly missed with a swerving effort just wide of the left upright before Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny combined in the box for the latter to flick a header onto the roof of the net.
Ten minutes before half-time, Pedersen drew the hosts level with their first meaningful effort on goal. Koscielny brought down Anthony Modeste on the edge of the box, allowing Pedersen to step up and curl a left-footed strike beyond Wojciech Szczesny and into the top corner.
The Gunners’ reply was immediate and in near identical fashion to their opener. This time Alex Song found Walcott down the right with a perfectly-executed pass. The winger took a touch before feeding Van Persie to rifle home.
Moments later Arsenal made it 3-1, with Van
Persie this time the architect. Walcott ghosted in from the right and found the Dutchman, who danced around the ball to manoeuvre space to slide an inch-perfect ball into the path of the on- rushing Oxlade-Chamberlain. The teenager rounded Robinson and slid the ball home.
Blackburn’s misery was compounded moments before the break, with centre-half Gael Givet shown a straight red for a two-footed lunge on Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Immediately after the interval Arsenal had the ball in the net again, with Arteta striding onto a half-cleared corner to send a low drive beyond Robinson’s dive.
The scoreline stayed that way for only a matter of minutes before Oxlade-Chamberlain doubled his account for the day.
Walcott again caused mayhem down the right when he drove inside, evaded a couple of challenges and fed the ball to the teenager, who took a touch to steady himself and fire an effort inside the near post.
On the hour mark Arsenal made it six, as Van Persie completed his hat-trick. Oxlade-
Chamberlain found Coquelin with a raking ball out to the right as the young Frenchman darted past Martin Olsson and found the Dutchman who sent the ball in from eight yards out.
From there on the Gunners played with their
opposition before substitute Henry made it
seven, finishing after being teed up by Van Persie to ensure Wenger’s side finally got their 2012 Premier League campaign off the mark.

Adeola Adebowale

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