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Big boys trump new boys at the Emirates

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On Saturday afternoon I sat behind the goal at the newly re-christened North Bank end. Over at the Clock End, in the corner, a small contingent of orange shirted fans was nowhere near audible and immediately I felt sorry for them.

There was something in the air that told me that Arsenal would bully Blackpool in the way they know best, with beautiful football.

Despite Alex Song being drafted in to cover for the suspended Laurent Koscielny (Wenger is still in the market for centre backs), it was clear from the outset that Arsenal was the more accomplished side and soon they were coasting.

The story of the game was that when Blackpool went down to 10 men, the fine-tuned football of the ruthless Arsenal machine was no longer necessary.

There was very little threat from the visitors, one clear opportunity from a cross presented itself, but the header sailed wide. Arsenal passed Blackpool into submission.

The sending off for Blackpool had tarnished the match, but Andrey Arshavin failed to let affect him and duly smashed home the resulting penalty. Job done.

With the visitors now reduced to 10, some of the sport was taken out of the contest. But for one man in particular, young Theo Walcott, it mattered little.

Theo shone throughout the game, showing no sign of off-season rust, with deft touches, good movement off the ball and most satisfyingly, some very clinical finishing (not dissimilar to the Henry style touch-turn-score of past times).

Walcott made the incisive moves that he is often criticised of lacking the confidence to pull off, but he executed them consistently on Saturday. Without a doubt Walcott deserved to be named the man-of-the-match.

Disappointingly, Marouane Chamakh missed a few chances and could himself have strolled away from the match with three to his name, but not that day.

Tomas Rosicky was assured in his midfield work; inventive passing, holding the ball well and showing bursts of intricate dribbling - like that effort against Liverpool that Pepe Reina just tipped over.

The Czech maestro was at the heart of most of Arsenal’s best stuff and he looked very dangerous on the break, like a bullet he raced free and waited to put in Chamakh, before the Moroccan was brought down and resulted in the penalty.

Abou Diaby showed some good touches and got his first goal of the season, Arsenal’s fourth of the day. He set up Walcott’s third goal with a sublimely weighted ball, allowing Walcott to bide his time as he glided across the penalty box - Blackpool defenders falling by the wayside – and slotting in a peach of a goal.

Cesc Fabregas came on in the second half to a surprisingly rapturous reception. It was nice to see that he still has a place in the fans’ hearts, “Still got Cesc Fabregas! Still got Cesc Fabregas!” was belted from the fiery lungs of the Gunners faithful (to the tune of the Pavarotti classic ‘Rigoletto La Dona e mobile’ – the famous one everyone knows) practically every time he touched the ball.

Robin van Persie came on, but for me that was the most frustrating thing – that he came on rather than starting. Again the chance to allow van Persie and Chamakh to form an understanding was passed up.

It was in fact van Persie’s fizzing, swinging corner that found the floating figure of Chamakh, lingering above the Blackpool defence, desperate to get on the score sheet before the day was out. His header beat the keeper and so his Premier League account was opened.

So 6-0 the final score. It wasn’t surprising considering the Premier League new boys got a man sent off in the first half. But the trademark silky passing of Arsenal was there, and was indeed sublime.

The killer instinct wasn’t as honed as it could have been - and will need to be to compete with the other Premier League Big Boys - but that just means there’s room for improvement.

Good result on the day. Any advance on six?

*Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.

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Topics:
Arsenal
Football
Premier League
Theo Walcott

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