WTTGT Writer: Tashan Deniran-Alleyne
ARSENAL 7-1 BLACKBURN
Arsenal cruised to their first league win of 2012 with an emphatic victory over strugglers Blackburn Rovers at the Emirates Stadium as Robin van Persie helped himself to a hat-trick.
Arsenal made two changes to the side following the midweek draw against Bolton with Francis Coquelin replacing Bacary Sagna at right-back and Tomas Rosicky coming into the midfield in place of Aaron Ramsey.
The gunners made a blistering start to the game taking the lead after a minute with their first attack as Coquelin slipped in Theo Walcott down the right and his cross was tapped home by van Persie for his 20th league goal of the season.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got in behind the visitors defence down the left hand side but nobody was on hand to meet his teasing cross. Tomas Rosicky saw his effort blocked in the penalty box as the hosts searched for a second. They forced a succession of corners and the last presented a chance for Per Mertesacker whose header was deflected over the bar.
Against the run of play Blackburn equalised through Morten Gamst Pedersen when his excellent free-kick beat Wojciech Szczesny to shock the home crowd. But Arsenal re-took the lead minutes later as Alex Song carved apart the Blackburn defence with a pass to Walcott who laid the ball on a plate for van Persie who tapped home his second of the game.
It was 3-1 two minutes later as van Persie turned provider this time playing a ball inside the visitors defence for Chamberlain who cooly took the ball round Paul Robinson and slotted home for his first Premier League goal. The visitors’ misery was further increased when Gael Givet was shown a straight red for a two footed lunge on van Persie.
Thomas Vermaelen hit the post in injury time as an eventful first half ended with the Gunners comfortably ahead.
The home side increased their lead five minutes after the restart as van Persie’s corner was only half cleared by Blackburn to the edge of the box where Mikel Arteta was waiting to strike the ball home via a deflection for his fourth goal of the season.
The hosts had their fifth minutes later as Walcott led the counter-attack when he raced away down the right, cut inside his markers to find Chamberlain in the penalty area, the winger showed quick feet and fired into the bottom corner for his second of the game as Arsenal turned on the style.
On the hour mark van Persie completed his hat-trick when Coquelin capped off an impressive display at full back by providing a pass for his captain who turned home at the near post.
The Gunners remained in control of the game for the final 20 minutes though substitutions disrupted the flow but in injury time Thierry Henry completed the scoring when he won the ball from Grant Hanley and exchanged passes with van Persie to score the first league goal of his second spell with the Gunners.
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