Arsenal 7-1 Blackburn Rovers
It may sound a tad melodramatic, but I’ve not enjoyed watching Arsenal as much this season as I should have done. All the peripheral stuff has been as fun as ever – the Saturday morning anticipation, hopping on the tube, having a pint before the game and chinwagging with the usual motley crew. It’s the bit on the pitch that has at times edged more towards being a chore than a pleasure. Yes, I know, you take the rough with the smooth in this line of work. But that doesn’t mean I have to whistle contentedly through the rough.
We have had some excellent results, but by and large – and particularly at home – we have struggled to recreate the Flowing Football Of Old™ in sufficient doses.
And then Saturday came. I’m pretty sure I said “I’ll settle for a scrappy 1-0” before the kick-off, and I’ll wager I wasn’t the only one. So to tonk seven past someone – the most we have scored in the league in 5½ years at the Emirates – was pure joy.
This Arsenal side has been accused on many an occasion of not being able or willing to turn the screw and administer a proper humbling. What was so heartening about yesterday was that, at 1-1 and in potential heads-down territory, we simply kept going. Then once we nosed in front, we got the bit between our teeth and kept going some more. Ambassador van Persie stayed on the pitch for the whole 90 minutes, Walcott too, and though there were barren patches (how dare they not score for 30 minutes?) we always threatened more.
It didn’t look like that would be the case though, at least not at first. Early goal followed by no second one followed by the away team equalising bears all the hallmarks of Arsenal. This time though, at 1-1 we rattled two more past in quick succession, and coupled with the red card, we were able to enjoy the second half.
The majestic van Persie was of course peerless again, but what a way it was for Oxlade-Chamberlain to mark only his third league start. I thought he was outrageously good for someone so raw and already there’s no doubt that he has the capacity to terrorise defences.
Then there was the icing on the cake of Henry scoring at the end – in what could well be his final ever appearance in front of the home crowd. There is talk of Arsenal trying to extend his loan so he can play a part in the north London derby, but if that’s not to be then this is not a bad way to have dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s.
I don’t want to rattle on about it forever, but suffice to say I lapped the whole thing up. It’s amazing how restorative a big win can be – for the fans as much as the players – and blimey did we need it.
I wouldn’t say I’ve gone as far as to pack up my troubles, but I have at least got my old kit bag down from the loft in case.
And I’m definitely smile, smile, smiling (for now).