Blackburn away is a tricky venue for Arsenal, especially as they are managed by Sam Allardyce, a manager whose tactics had frustrated Arsenal over the years. Today, despite the aerial and physical game played, Arsenal came away with all 3 points in a 2-1 victory.
Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie returned to the starting XI for the first time in the new campaign, while Laurent Koscielny returned from suspension. Unlike the previous 2 games, though, Arsenal’s shape was more like a 4-2-1-3 or a 4-1-2-3, instead of the 4-2-3-1. Fabregas quite often came deep, and so too did Chamakh and Van Persie, which allowed Walcott and Arshavin to take up the space vacated by the centre forward, which is how the opening goal came about. Walcott and Arshavin pressed high up the pitch, and as well as scoring 1 goal, Walcott’s intelligent run created space for Sagna for the second goal, and had a good game all around.
Blackburn set out to frustrate Arsenal, and matched Arsenal with a 4-3-3, with Jones sitting right in front of the defence and Grella and Pedersen also holding. Mame Biriam Diouf and El-Hadji Diouf played on the wings and looked to cut into the box when possible.
Blackburn played their direct long ball style, attempting only 200 passes in the whole game, and difference in styles is shown below
by Guardian Chalkboards
Blackburn didn’t really bother playing through the midfield, while Arsenal did; the Arsenal goals came after 7 pass moves each, and the Blackburn goal came after a 2 pass move.
Defensively, Arsenal were fairly solid and dealed with the long ball and long throw threat of Blackburn. Koscielny may have been at fault for the first goal, but for the rest of the match he was fantastic, with him and Vermaelen only losing 4 duels, with Koscielny winning most of his aerial duels.
by Guardian Chalkboards
Arsenal deserved the 3 points, and they quite easily could’ve had a third that reflected the dominance they had in the midfield in the second half, as their possession football strangled the game and coupled with Arsenal’s aerial security (Blackburn winning only 4 of their long throws and corners) made it hard for Blackburn to create chances. If Arsenal can continue to create this kind of performance at away venues like Blackburn, Stoke, Birmingham, Bolton and Sunderland, it could go a long way in the title race.