Arsene Wenger made seven changes but still fielded a strong Arsenal team as he looked to get into the last eight of the FA cup at the expense of championship side Blackburn Rovers. Vermaelen and Koscielny must have no injury concerns because they both started, with Coquelin brought in at right back.
The midfield trio of Arteta, Diaby and Rosicky was picked to give a good blend of defensive, passing and defensive qualities, while Gervinho and Oxlade-Chamberlain started either side of Giroud. Chamberlain started on the right, and he was bright and keen to take his chance, linking up well early on with Rosicky. He needs to work on his corners, though, a number of early ones failing to beat the first man.
The midfield was looking good and controlling possession and winning corners, without troubling Kean in the Blackburn goal. After 22 minutes, Gervinho completely skinned two Rovers players in the box but failed to find a team mate. Arteta did the same soon after, but the resulting corner was headed on target by Diaby, bringing a reflex save from Kean. The pressure was building and it seemed to be just a matter of time. The breakthrough should have come just before halftime. Rosicky’s perfect pass put Gervinho one on one and he beat the keeper with his effort but it went just passed the post.
All of the players who had come in were playing okay, though, so Wenger did not feel the need to make any changes. The Ox kept giving the Rovers left back the runaround in the second half, but his final ball was wayward. As the game reached the hour mark still goalless, you could feel the crowd starting to get nervous, while Blackburn were starting to become a little more adventurous.
Wenger then seemed about to make a triple change, but thought twice after seeing Rosicky hit the bar and Gervinho nearly got clear on goal. He did make the changes, though, with Wilshere, Cazorla and Walcott coming on. Unbelievably, and completely against the run of play Blackburn fluked a goal from a complete miss kick by Kazim-Richards.
When Wilshere found Walcott with a good cross, the keeper was lucky that the ball went straight at him. Giroud hit a clean volley right at the end, but it hit a Rovers defender in the back of the head which he knew nothing about. The fine margins in football all went against the Gunners today. We may not have been clinical in the final third, but we should never have lost that game.