Date: 14th September 2008 at 1:01pm
Written by:

1.Manuel ALMUNIA– Had a solid game with a soporific defence ahead of him, claimed several crosses, which will be important given the lack of aerial authority in defence. Did have one shaky moment when he chose to leave his goal line only to be beaten to the ball by Jason Roberts. 7

3.Bacary SAGNA– Looked to be Arsenal’s only solid defender, winning his aerial battles and alleviating pressure with a number of crucial challenges. Offered a constant outlet going forward. Howver, his Terryesque decision to return the ball to the Rovers corner flag was a bitof a sickener though. Cut that out boys, leave the despicable sportsmanship to the England captain, eh?7

4.Francesc FABREGAS– Played economically given his exploits for Spain, but was also wasted as he constantly had to fill in for Denilson who is not disciplined enough to play the defensive role. However, as ever, immaculate in possession. For a snapshot of what he gives this side, watch all 27 passes that preceded the second goal. 7

5.Kolo TOURE– Could not handle Santa Cruz’s height in the first half in the same way that Gallas could not handle Roberts’ strength. Frequently exposed by Arsenal’s lack of a midfield shield and did not have the wherewithal to organise his defence into a more disciplined unit. 6

10.William GALLAS– See above, Roberts’ brute strength caused him problems he did not seem able or willing to handle in the first period. Looked completely apathetic to what was happening in the first half, he simply must improve. 5

11.Robin van PERSIE– Looks a much more involved and lively figure than he did in the first three games this season. Linked up play between the midfield and strikers and he and I commented in pre season that he and Adebayor seemed to be using Walcott as a third striker with theirlink up play. So it was again today with all three prominently involved in all of the goals. Excellent goal, unselfish team play and fit. This is the van Persie we all want to see. 8.5

14.Theo WALCOTT– Riding the crest of his midweek wave, Walcott looked exuberant, spinning players with his back to goal, riding challenges, facing defenders up and running at them, his footwork looked better. An impressive peformance, his cameo for van Persie’s goal a highlight. However, his real test will be away from home in a much tighter and more physical match. His footballing balls may well be dropping as he looks a bit hungrier and less tentative. 8

15.DENILSON– Whilst his passing looked to be back on radar, the fact is that his defensive play was poor. He fouled frequently as he was so far out of position that he had to chase back and lunge into tackles from behind, often AWOL when the ball was cleared by the defence. I feel for him because it’s not his game, but it is Alex Song’s and now he must play alongside Cesc. 5

22.Gael CLICHY– Unusually poor performance from Clichy, Emerton was allowed to get the better of him in the first half on a few occasions, he also did not burst forward with his usual impunity. However, I’m hearing that he is a doubt for Wednesday which suggests injury may have been responisble for his anomalous performance. 6

25.Emmanuel ADEBAYOR– You can’t argue with a forward that scores a ‘perfect’ hat trick. Always offered an outlet and used his strength to create space for Walcott on the flank. But Ade, please learn the offside law! 8

27.Emmanuel EBOUE– In keeping with his impressive start to the season, he had another excellent game. Offering protection to Sagna and using his fleet of foot to retain possession and his pace to burst forward at every opportunity. It looks as though he may actually be a decent winger afterall. 7.5

SUBSTITUTES


17.Alexandre Song Billong– Looked neat and tidy when he was on, tough in the tackle, good on the ball. He has to start on Wednesday. 7

16.Aaron Ramsey– Was given a chance to play in a side in the midsts of Wengerball and helped himself to an assist for Adebayor’s third. 7

19.Jack Wilshere– Made some history but had little time to impress. Looked tidy on the ball when he had it, but Blackburn were hardly snapping at our heels by this stage. 7