Arsenal 0 v Blackburn 0

Whatever title hopes Arsenal had seem to have diminished even further after this drab 0-0 against Blackburn Rovers at the Emirates. Mathematically, the Gunners’ remain very much in the title race, but after a third consecutive Premiership draw, Arsene Wenger knows that his last hopes of silverware are vanishing into the distance, and it would seem to the north-west of England. Reduced to ten men when Steven N’Zonzi was red carded for a two-footed lunge on Laurent Koscielny, and with over a quarter of an hour on the clock, Rovers held on for a point, that said more of Arsenal’s inability to carve up a stubborn defence than anything else.


Cesc Fabregas was named as a substitute, with Theo Walcott and Alex Song making a welcome start. Walcott’s pace has been a miss and the Gunners’ number 14 let fly with a low shot that Paul Robinson did well to keep out. And that you felt was the theme of things to come. However after another energy sapping international week, Arsenal lacked flair and bite whereas Rovers seemed to have plenty of the latter. Bacary Sagna and Martin Olsson clashed in a fierce tackle after which both required treatment. Samir Nasri was busy in the middle of the pitch, but a knock after a headed clash with Ryan Nelsen saw the France player left with a nasty bruise that required bandages. Andrey Arshavin promised to do so much, but after a flashed shot that Robinson failed to hold, the only memorable contribution from the Russian was a track back and tackle on Olsson.


Rovers plan was to deny Arsenal space and time, and with an eleven-man defence, they had come to shut up shop. On occasions however, Olson and the lively David Hoilett let the Gunners know that they would attack if required. The half was to end with a chance for Walcott. Manuel Almunia was having a good half – but almost fluffed a Olsson shot ( that deflected off Koscielny) into his net – set up Walcott. He outpaced the Rovers defence, but isolated, his shot was always going wide. Jack Wilshere looked up for the fight and should have netted his first Emirates goal after a neat build up, but side footed Nasri’s cross horribly wide.


Much more Arsenal possession followed in the second half, but once again no cutting edge. To great cheers, Fabregas was introduced for Arshavin and with over half an hour remaining, things looked promising. Fabregas however is clearly still not fit a fact acknowledged by Wenger in the post match press conference. Nasri made way for Nicklas Bendtner, who was stationed on the right when with his height and against a tall Rovers’ defence a more central role would have suited. Marouane Chamakh who had replaced Walcott tried to mix things up in the Rovers defence, but unlike at the Hawthorns, he was unable to inspire the necessary fight.


Bendtner headed Van Persie’s corner over the bar, Chamakh made Robinson scramble clear, Michel Salgado cleared Bendtner’s header off the line and with their last chance, Van Persie headed over the bar. Wenger described the performance as “ flat.” That was certainly true and the same could now be concluded for the Gunners’ title aspirations. The fans certainly let know their feelings at the final whistle, with loud boos echoing around the Emirates as the players trudged off dejectedly. Much work still to do for Wenger.