Scrappy game and one which Arsenal looked to have in the bag before Lehmann gifted Blackburn and Dunn a goal and after that it all went pear-shaped, with Arsenal and Blackburn players preferring to clash off the ball than let their skills do the talking.
van Persie, Pedersen, Fabregas, Savage, Nelson and Flamini were in the thick of it and while it is always unfortunate to see players’ tempers boiling over, luckily things stayed calm (I figure that Nelson’s sending off had a lot to do with that).
In the end, Blackburn’s last-ditch defending and Arsenal’s inability to break them down meant that both sides went away with a point – but while Blackburn fans can feel quietly satisfied and perhaps a bit disappointed, Arsenal fans will be furious.
Previously when Jens Lehmann made that mistake against Fulham, we chalked it off to early-season jitters – at that time I was about to put up a post saying that he was past his prime and that he would decline this season but I thought I should wait and see.
Well, I don’t think there’s much waiting to be done in these cases. While Lehmann shouldn’t be permanently dropped I think it’s a good idea, during the course of the season, to give Almunia and Fabianski games and see which one of them is suited to taking over from Lehmann.
With older players it’s very hard to know when they are deteriorating and when they’re just having a bad patch of form – Lehmann’s mistake today (see Blackburn goal here) was a case of a loss of concentration (yes, the ball was wet and slippery but as a keeper of a club that wants to win the Premiership and the Champions League you are bloody well expected to deal with it) and I fear that he’ll have a few more of those during the season.
As for the handbags? I think Wiley had it mostly under control but really, this sort of thing has to be sorted out from the start. And while we’re at it, some credit must go to the referees who have to deal with very difficult situations especially as only their mistakes get noticed, they never get any credit for things they do right.
Overall, a bit relieved that Arsenal dropped 2 points but they are still moving up the table as opposed to Manchester United who are going down it. Blackburn – they’ll be happy to see McCarthy get some time on the pitch and as long as Hughes can keep Pedersen and Bentley at the club, they are good candidates for that top 10 spot.