EPL: Arsenal held by Blackburn 0-0 in the FA Cup 5th Round

Arsenal were held yesterday to a 0-0 draw by an overly turtling Blackburn. I saw the match from the 30th minute onwards, but what was clear was an overly defensive Blackburn which put men behind the ball for the entire first half. I hadn’t missed anything 🙂 Arsenal were clearly superior, but they were thwarted time and again by a solid Blackburn defense, and the frustration showed when Cesc Fabregas asked Rovers manager Mark Hughes if that’s how he played for Barcelona back in his day. LOL!

Henry did have a really good look at goal in the first half but shot wide over the bar with only the goalkeeper to beat. Speaking of Henry, he has always been one of my favourite players, but he’s slipping of late. The same thing happened at Wigan – they would never have trailed if he had put the ball in. The spark is there, but he’s not exerting himself as much as he used to. Shades of his past injury perhaps? He was much more effective in the second half, though. Hleb was sorely missed in this one; he was laid down by a cold.

The match was a dud in the first half and I was not keen on seeing more of the Great Blackburn Wall, but I persisted and lo, it was good. Blackburn did speed up the tempo in the second half, sending men forward. They managed to give Arsenal a few scares, with substitute Derbyshire speculatively lobbing the ball at the goal, needing an acrobatic save from sub keeper Manuel Almunia.

Blackburn keeper Brad Friedel though, had to do a lot more work than his counterpart, fending off strikes from Rosicky, Henry, and Justin Hoyte in succession. Good times for Friedel, considering that Blackburn had perished 6-2 to Arsenal in December and 3-2 to Leverkusen a few days ago. Not so good for Arsenal, which seem to have been under some hex that kept denying them the goals.

The hex was duly confirmed when Alladiere, after a superb turn, was brought down in the box by Steve Waranock. Arsenal players clamored in vain for the well-deserved penalty, but the referee said no dice. Henry could have scored on the pass from Alladiere, but it seemed he too had been caught up in the appeal and his strike was half-hearted and easily gobbled up.

All in all, a disappointing result for Arsenal and they’re surely not looking forward to the replay on Feb 28 at Blackburn considering their tight schedule; they face Chelsea in a humdinger of a match Carling Cup final, and PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League.

Information courtesy of SI.com.

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