Well, well, well. Not a bad way to end a bad run of form and, dare I say it, turn our season around. For the first time this season we saw glimpses of the 'old' Arsenal on Saturday, and to me it is just frustrating that we cannot perform anywhere near that standard on a regular basis. It was one of those days where everything went right for us, in a season where one might say we have had more than our fair share of bad luck. Let's not hype it up too much though, as for a large part of the game we were playing against a very poor 10-man Blackburn side.
However, I think we cqan take more from the game than just the result. In particular, we were once again shown the qualities that 18 year old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain possesses. We as Arsenal and England fans have been told recently not to get 'too excited' about him, after the slightly (or in my case, massively) disappointing progression of one Theo Walcott. In this case, it is hard not to get 'too excited'; he has arguably been our best player in each of the last four games, and yesterday he was quite brilliant. Not only did he create one and score two goals, both of which an established striker would be proud of, he was constantly a danger to the Blackburn defence. Every time he got the ball the 55,000 Arsenal fans at the Emirates came alive, as did he. And maybe this is why Wenger did not sign an attacking player in January, much to the disbelief (not) of the Arsenal faithful. We will have to wait and see.
Another pleasing performance was Theo Walcott's. I personally am quick to criticise the 21 year old, but credit to him for an outstanding showing. A hat-trick of assists is arguably harder than the scoring itself, and similarly to Chamberlain, he looked lively throughout. His assist to Chamberlain himself came from a surging into the box, dribbling his way through four Blackburn players on his way; albeit getting a little bit fortunate. A good way to answer his critics, of which there appear to be many.
However, a good performance against a lacklustre Blackburn side without the experience of Samba or Yakubu, does not, for me, prove anything. When he turns it on he is undoubtedly a brilliant weapon to have and unleash. But when he only produces this sort of performances three or four times in a season, it isn't much use to us. Especially when you consider he has only missed out in one of the Premiership games we have played this season. How many goals has he scored? 3. How many assists? 7.
Now let's turn to AOC's stats; granted a little bit misleading after the sort of game he just had. Games? 5. Goals? 2. Assists? 1. Already he has proved he has more of a cutting edge and an eye for goal than Theo, and this answers a crucial question for me. That question is, of course, what happens when Gervinho comes back from the African Cup of Nations. For me the answer is easy. Start with Gervinho and Oxlade-Chamberlain out wide, and introduce Theo to provide what could be some crucial bursts of pace towards the end of matches when the opposition has tired. Whether Arsene will agree with me is anyone's guess, knowing him he'll probably start someone completely different (Arshavin?).
Then there is the slight matter of Robin van Persie hat-trick. The most pleasing thing about this wasn't that he got his hat-trick, but that all the goals were the kind of goals that we have been missing in recent years. These are the 'poacher's' goal, and in my opinion he made the job of Theo Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain considerably much easier by making a number of terrific runs in and around the box. I don't think anymore need be said about this guy, everyone can see he is one of the on-form strikers in the Premiership and the World, and I just hope he continues in this vain against AC Milan next week.
Before that, though, we face a rejuvenated Sunderland side at the Stadium of Light, where we have come into problems in recent years. Perhaps a slightly disappointing thing for Gunners' fans is that Nicklas Bendtner cannot face his Parent Club, so we will have to put up with a certain Stephane Sessegnon. One feels that our defence will have to be at their very best to stop him along with the promising James McClean from scoring. We will also find out later tonight who our FA cup fifth round opponents will be, as the replay between Middlesbrough and Sunderland takes place. We will play the winner's of that tie away from home for the first time in a cup game this season.
Most years, we would probably accept a draw at Sunderland as a decent result, but this year that is definitely not the case. Anything less than a win is points dropped, and with Chelsea facing a tough fixture of Everton away, you might feel that we could gain some points on them this weekend.
More on the all important Champions League fixture at Milan after the weekend, until then, though, let's hope that we can continue where we left off on Saturday. In Arsene we trust...for now.