Blackburn 2 Arsenal 1
1) Going out to play with nothing to play for is difficult. If Arsenal had won, say, 2-0 it would have been remarked it was a dead game. It's interesting to note that both in the newspapers and the blogs, a post-mortem is taking place in spite of this. Short of winning 6-0, Arsenal were always going to be criticised for at best, the fact yesterday's game meant nothing, and at worst, for failing to get a positive result.
2) But equally, there were players who had something to play for. If it had been Bacary Sagna and Emmanuel Eboue who played badly, it would be fair to say that they have had a long season and the game meant nothing to them. But the real weak links were Armand Traore, Carlos Vela, and unfortunately, Fabianski. It is a damning indictment on the attitude of those players that given a chance to show what the could do, they went missing, made mistakes, and in the case of Carlos Vela, missed the easiest of chances. It may be a problem of ability, rather than of attitude. But the reality is that this means all three should be sold.
3) Surely this was the final nail in the coffin for Lukasz Fabianski's Arsenal career? The one defence left for him was that he always played well in training and just could not cope with the big-match occasion. Well Arsenal don't play many games with less meaning than that played yesterday. So, Blackburn's tactics showed one thing: the problem with Fabianski is not temperament; it is ability.
4) That said, Fabianski was clearly fouled for the first goal. It's very sad that Petr Cech seems to get extra protection because he wears a scrum cap, but other goalkeepers can be fouled and referees do nothing. As Goodplaya points out a small push on the goalkeeper can be the difference between catching the ball and dropping it completely. Fabianski is notoriously mentally fragile: it would be sad if the end of his Arsenal career came because he unluckily let in the first goal and was still stewing on that when he made the gaffe for the second.
5) When I repeatedly had a go at Theo in April and March, I was repeatedly told I should give him a chance. There were so-called 'mitigating circumstances' since he had been out injured for so long. But he's now been back in the team for two months; he played a full 90 minutes yesterday; and in reality, he did very little right. There comes a time when serious question marks have to be placed over Theo's future in the first-team at Arsenal: he's now played for us for four full seasons and has not kicked on nearly enough. He still hasn't developed a trick and short of occasionally sprinting past tired teams, he seems to do little right.
Next season must be his last chance. But four years is enough to establish someone is not going to make it as a right winger. Arsenal need to utilise Theo Walcott's pace and play him up front, on the shoulder of the last defender, ready to run onto the ball and finish chances. In other words, Arsene Wenger must play to Theo Walcott's strengths.
6) Games played by Sol Campbell since his return to Arsenal: 13
Games won by Arsenal: 5
Sure, statistics lie but it hasn't been that brilliant a comeback as all that from Sol. He is trumpeted as being an inspirational figure; if all he does is inspire Arsenal to defeat, it is not all that great an inspiration.
7) Blackburn were too physical. One particular tackle by Pedersen on Van Persie was outrageous and merited a red card. But I struggle to sympathise with Arsene because he only seems to point this out when we lost matches. There are many matches when the opposition is physical and Arsenal still win. So to use physicality to explain why Arsenal lost the game is disingenuous, since it hides behind the very real faults of this Arsenal team.
8) To only have three shots on target when the opposition have Paul Robinson in goal is outrageous. In a rare moment of speaking something near to sense, Fat Sam said Blackburn deliberately played to exploit the weakness which is Fabianski at crosses. Why did Arsenal not take advantage of Robinson being crap by shooting?
9) Lets hope it's St Totteringham's Day tomorrow. A nervy ninety minutes on Sunday would be too much to bear considering it was less than three weeks ago that Arsenal were very much in the title race.
10) Kudos to the Arsenal fans who travelled yesterday. It is people like them who are the true supporters. And it was people like them who deserved a true performance; what a shame it was not forthcoming.
11) Away games played in the north of England in all competitions this season: 12
Games lost: 8
Games drawn: 1
Games won: 3 - against Hull, Stoke and an underperforming Liverpool side. It says it all really. Champions? I think not.
Keep the faith,