Arsenal ills begin to heal with thrashing

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Arsene Wenger was beaming as the final whistle blew on Saturday – a stark contrast to their last League game at Emirates Stadium.


If your team had just won 7-1 it is likely you would have a rather large smile on your face, but Wenger was quick to play down the palpable relief in the post-match interviews.


It was Arsenal’s first Premier League win in 2012 and proved to be a rout of the highest order, though elation must be tempered by the reality of the Blackburn Rovers team who were put to the slaughter.


Gunners fans had berated their side in midweek over a series of missed chances in the game against Bolton Wanderers and many were bemoaning a lack of quality being added to the squad in January.


One point of view that was not highlighted in the aftermath of the Reebok Stadium debacle was that fact that Arsenal had looked like running riot over Bolton for most of the first half.


One decent finish in the chances presented to Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, or more luck for Robin van Persie would probably have broken the resistance of Owen Coyle’s side.


As we know, this did not happen and Arsenal visibly tired in the second half only just scraping the draw.


While it may be farfetched to suggest Wenger’s team would have matched the score line against Blackburn had they taken one of their early chances in Bolton, something to show from the early pressure could well have led to a comfortable victory.


The two games were a perfect example of how important it is to capitalise on periods of sustained pressure in the Premier League, as most teams will have dangerous spells or have players who can turn things around in moments.


Morten Gamst Pedersen highlighted this fact when he picked out Wojciech Szczesny’s top corner with Blackburn’s first shot on target, coming from the first foul committed by the Gunners in the game.


Arsene Wenger has claimed quite often in recent weeks that luck has not been on the side of his team and that they could quite possibly have won all of the recent four Premier League games where victory proved elusive.


It is important not to get too carried away with score line, as it is merely one of a number seen this season, but the victory and the comfortable nature with which it came about has to be significant.


Not many times this season have Arsenal dominated a game so much and had said domination reflected in the score – it has been a season of calamity interspersed with mostly scraped victories.


This tendency to self-destruct has meant that their goal difference was poor for a side supposedly chasing a top-four place – even though the 8-2 thrashing at Old Trafford means the number was distorted somewhat.


They have now eradicated the last effects of that defeat and are on a par with their closest rivals when it comes to goal difference, which could be crucial come the closing stages of the season.


Arsenal this season have taught us not to get too carried away by one performance, as one equally as bad could be just around the corner and they will not be facing such accommodating opponents every week.


However, it would be remiss to deny that something was different about Wenger’s side on Saturday, a hint of swagger and confidence that has not been seen for a while.


That this was done in front of a home crowd that has been more baying than adoring in the past few weeks should be noted, it could be that green shoots are appearing in the rubble of the team’s relationship with their fans.


The return of a number of injured players was always going to be a positive, but they were, before the weekend, coming into an atmosphere that was rife with bad feeling and self-doubt.


It is amazing what one win can do for a side, but one swallow does not a summer make and this renewed energy will be severely tested in the Gunners’ next game away to form side Sunderland.


Martin O’Neill has transformed a side from being unconvincing and blunder-prone, to a side that is quick and incisive in attack almost overnight.


Arsenal fans will be hoping Wenger can do the same for his beleaguered side and make sure the floodgates stay open.

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