x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Arshavin proves too hot to handle

Andrey Arshavin steals the show for Arsenal as he netted his first goal for the club to help them regain fourth place with a comfortable win over Blackburn.

Andrey Arshavin, left, celebrates his classy strike.
Andrey Arshavin, left, celebrates his classy strike.

Andrey Arshavin stole the show for Arsenal as he netted his first goal for the club to help them regain fourth place with a comfortable win over Sam Allardyce's side. Arshavin has wasted no time settling into his new surroundings following his £15million (Dh77m) move from Zenit St Petersburg back in January and showed why Wenger was prepared to make him the club's record signing. The Russian international came within a whisker of netting the opening goal, but the last touch came off Blackburn defender Andre Ooijer.

There was no denying who got the second as Arshavin produced a sublime piece of skill to turn Danny Simpson in the box and fired his shot past Paul Robinson. Substitute Emmanuel Eboue rounded off a perfect week for Arsenal when he scored two late goals to inflict more misery on a poor Blackburn side who are fighting to retain their top flight status. Arsenal were brimming with confidence following their Champions League victory over Roma and it showed as they made a dream start when they opened the scoring after just 75 seconds.

Nicklas Bendtner released Theo Walcott down the right hand side who crossed in for Arshavin to slide in at the near post. It was the Russian who got the first touch but a heavy deflection off Oijer meant it was surely an own goal. El-Hadji Diouf was lucky to escape a red card on 21 minutes after making a lunging challenge on Manuel Almunia and went in with his studs showing but was only shown the yellow card.

The Arsenal fans were infuriated with his challenge and television replays showed the damage he could have caused to the Arsenal keeper. Almunia was clearly fuming with Diouf over his earlier challenge and squared up to the Blackburn striker just before half-time. Arsenal continued to create the best chances at the start of the second half and Bendtner blew a golden opportunity to add a second for Arsenal on 48 minutes.

Walcott used his pace once again to get in behind the Blackburn defence and crossed in for the Arsenal forward who had the goal at his mercy but he dragged his shot wide of the post. Bendtner should have done better with a close-range header on 62 minutes and wasted another great opportunity just two minutes later when he was through on goal, but saw his shot well saved. But there was to be no denying Arshavin. On 65 minutes it was a moment which he will never forget. Denilson's pass picked out the Russian international who showed all his class to turn Danny Simpson inside the box and then produced a great piece of skill to lift the ball past Robinson into the corner of the net.

Then it was left to Eboue to rub salt in Blackburn's wounds with his two late strikes. sports@thenational.ae