After 90-plus minutes of heart-stopping action, Blackburn Rovers have defeated Arsenal 4-3 in an absolutely thrilling match that's going to be in the running for match of the season at the end of the year. The Gunners put in a couple of own goals while Yakubu was brilliant on his debut, but Arsenal still had plenty of chances in the final minutes to take points away from Ewood Park.
Arsenal scored an opener in the 8th minute, thanks to a great ball by Alex Song, a good finish by Gervinho, and some poor defending by Christopher Samba. It was a great start for the Gunners, and with Blackburn struggling since Steve Kean was hired in the middle of last season, it looked like Arsenal was going to coast to a relatively easy win.
Yakubu would find an equalizer, though, thanks to some bad defending by Arsenal's new signings. In the 25th minute, David Hoilett played a through ball to Yakubu that he was able to run onto and finish, despite his supposed injuries and some poor positioning. Andre Santos failed to step up and put him offside, while Per Mertesacker was a step too slow and was easily burned by the Nigerian international.
Blackburn defended extremely poorly on Arsenal's second goal just before the halftime break, scored by Mikel Arteta, leading most to believe that all was right with the world again. They went into halftime up 2-1 and looking like serious favorites to pull away in the second half.
Instead, Blackburn were gifted an equalizer on a set piece in the 50th minute. On a lofted cross that didn't appear to present any danger at all to Arsenal, they somehow failed to clear and Song put in an inexplicable own goal off of his knee.
Steve Kean brought on Martin Olsson for Ruben Rochina in the 56th minute, an apparently defensive sub that drew some groans. Three minutes later, his substitution instantly became justified when Yakubu scored his second goal of the night on a poorly defended set piece, though the goal shouldn't have counted. On a corner taken to the edge of the penalty area, Steven N'Zonzi picked up the ball and put it back in to the far post, where Yakubu tapped it in. He appeared to be offside by inches and the goal shouldn't have counted, but it was close enough that it was an understandable call for the linesman to miss.
In the 68th minute, the real shocker of the evening came when Olsson proved everyone but Kean wrong, showing that he was much more than a defensive sub. After absolutely blowing by Song with the ball, he ran over the massive Johan Djourou en route to the endline, where he swung in a dangerous cross. Laurent Koscielny appeared to have no idea where he was, dealing with the cross in a laughable manner and putting the ball into his own net, notching Arsenal's second own goal of the evening and putting Blackburn up 4-2.
Arsenal dominated the match from that point on, but it took them until the 85th minute to finally found a goal. Robin van Persie was the architect with a fantastic cross, and substitute Marouane Chamakh finished with a well-placed header that was just as nice.
The Gunners had a number of chances to score an equalizer, but spectacularly missed all of them. Paul Robinson made three brilliant saves in the last five minutes of regular time, plus stoppage time, while both Mertesacker and Chamakh missed wide open headers that they should have scored.
Blackburn are now ahead of Arsenal in the table after their 4-3 win, and their fans might stop the 'Kean Out' protests thanks to this massive win. Meanwhile, Arsenal are a club in absolute shambles at the moment, especially at the back. You'll be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks they're a title challenger, and depending on the result of the Tottenham Hotspur-Liverpool match on Sunday, questions might be asked about whether or not Arsenal are a top four side this season.
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