Arsenal 0-0 Blackburn Rovers: Turn Out the Lights, the Party's Over

Originally, my post was going to be exactly this: "I will put as much heart and fight into this match report as Arsenal did into this match itself: That sucked, the end."

However, this result is important enough - not only in the frame of this season but in the direction of our club as well - that a longer inquest is warranted. Believe me, I looked forward to writing this in the same sense that you'd look forward to a brain tumor, but I signed on to the "you take the good with the bad" aspect of this shit years ago. Arsenal 'til I die, and all that.

As far as I remember, the Gunners had about two or three moments where Paul Robinson was in any bother at all in the Blackburn goal. Alex Song had one brilliantly blocked by the defense in the 4th minute, and Jack Wilshere misdirected a side-foot with the goal gaping in the 29th. That's what I could recall, and the Guardian's MBM tells me that Robin van Persie had a header he should have done better with ten minutes from time.

That's it, against a club with the worst away defensive record in the league, and who harshly had Steven N'zonzi sent off in the 76th for what was probably a yellow-card foul. Oh, and for shits and giggles, here is the awesome extent of our shots on goal once we had the man advantage:

by Guardian Chalkboards

What can you say, though? I've used this line a few times before, but I'll say it again: This lot have the talent, but right now they don't have the ability. While the lads are mathematically still alive in the title race, for me it's the same kind of mathematical chance that 7-2 offsuit had against A-A in a heads-up contest. United will have to drop points while Arsenal somehow concurrently shakes off this malaise - and honestly, does either one look like it's happening at the moment?

The worst thing is that it absolutely could. These are brilliantly talented footballers...I mean, recall if you please the astonishingly good performance that Samir Nasri had on the day, especially keeping in mind the injury he suffered 10 minutes in. Unlike the Walrus-Face Blackburn sides, this wasn't even deliberate - a clash of heads on an attempted header left Super Sam with a mouse on his head that was about a 0.6 on the Hasim Rahman scale. Still, it was his pass that set up Wilshere with the chance he spurned, and later on he embarked on a brilliant mazy run through the Blackburn defense that petered out due to lack of support.

And that, friends, is what I can't see changing about this team the rest of the way. Look again at the highlights. There is precious little running off the ball, barely any pressing and a complete lack of ideas. Space opens up with runs away from the ball because the defenders have to track them - it is in that controlled chaos of movement that good passing sides find the necessary space to operate and create chances. It's in wingers switching sides, a striker coming deep to collect the ball while a central midfielder charges ahead, the overlap between fullback and winger. Instead, what we have is 10 guys standing around passing sideways with no one displaying the courage or the leadership to charge into the fray and make something happen.

Even at the end when there were three strikers out there, we were as toothless as we've ever been. I wonder how much of that can be attributed to Nasri eventually having to come off due to the injury and, even worse, Andrei Arshavin (arguably our best non-Nasri player of the day) coming off as the first substitute. Apparently, all he has to do to stay on the pitch is have a bad game.

Hilariously, Blackburn could easily have won this game thanks to the continued comedic stylings of Almunia the Clown. While the shot in question was deflected by Laurent Koscielny, it was done so with more than enough time for the keeper to readjust and get in front of it. Instead, with the footwork of a landmine victim and the perfect form of a bullfighter executing a..umm...whatever it's called when they go "ole!" and the dodge the bull, he flapped his arms at it and just got enough of a fingertip on it to send it wide.

Fuck's sake.

That's about all I have to say about the match - as I've mentioned resigned acceptance has crept in as it becomes more of a certainty that we'll win fuck all again. I think I've figured out why there's so much vitriol out there towards the team and the manager, though (well, besides the whole "same mistakes every year for six years" thing, but we'll take that as given for now). If you support a midtable side, you know what you're going to get every season. For an Everton or a Villa, except for the rare outliers where they get sucked into a relegation dogfight, they know that they'll be somewhere around the UEFA Cup places, they know there'll be one or two blowout wins and one or two blowout losses, with the rest settling into a comfortable mediocrity. In one sense, I can see how some supporters are happy in that solid and dependable routine.

With us though, we get right to the precipice every season, only to fail at the last. Seriously, it's like dating a girl who suddenly gets a searing headache every time you get near her interesting bits. It's fucking blue balls, and we all know the frustration evident in that condition.

Playing the game dictates that such a thing will happen every now and's part and parcel of being a supporter. But when it happens over and over with no release...well, maybe it's time to change something. You know my choice.

The Modern Gooner Player Ratings:

Almunia 5, Clichy 6, Koscielny 6, Squillaci 7, Sagna 6, Arshavin 7 (Fabregas 6), Nasri 8 (MOTM) (Bendtner 6) , Fabregas 6, Song 7, Wilshere 6, Walcott 6 (Chamakh 6), van Persie 5