Yakubu scored twice on his Blackburn debut to give them a 4-3 victory in a crazy game that included two own-goals
Preamble Hello. Everything's BIG in football these days. Teams are never "in trouble" or "enduring a mildly chastening period of strife"; they are invariably "in crisis". Blackburn and Arsenal, who meet today at Ewood Park, have been the two crisis clubs of this burgeoning Premier League season. And what crises they are: Arsenal may finish as low as fifth, while Blackburn are a point from safety.
For what it's worth (absolutely nothing), I reckon Arsenal will finish fourth and Blackburn will stay up. That said, the latter is dependent on who they appoint if, as seems inevitable, they sack poor old Steve Kean. Given the judgement of Blackburn's owners thus far – particularly the sacking of the exceptional Sam Allardyce and this finger-lickin', toe-curlin' video – they will probably appoint James Corden, Jedward or, more absurd still, John Gregory.
Previously on Blackburn v Arsenal... I wanted to link to Kevin Gallacher's fantastic goal at Highbury in 1997 – what a crazily underrated player he was – but I can't find it. So instead, from the same season, here's a devastatingly economical through pass from Dennis Bergkamp, part of Arsenal's scary 4-1 mauling of Roy Hodgson's side at Ewood Park.
Not this game department Wolves v QPR may be off because of a power cut. A power cut! It's obviously very bad for the paying punters, blah blah etcetera, but of far more importance is whether I should remove Matt Jarvis and Stephen Ward from my fantasy team before the window shuts at 12.30pm.
Team news There are debuts for Andre Santos and Yakubu, while Jason Lowe makes his first Premier League start. Jason Lowe is a child of the 1990s. When Jason Lowe was born, this little epiphany-inducer was top of the UK hit parade. This fact makes me feel very old.
Blackburn (4-2-3-1) Robinson; Salgado, Samba, Dann, Givet; Rochina, Lowe, Nzonzi; Rochina, Formica, Hoilett; Yakubu.
Subs: Bunn, Olsson, Grella, Petrovic, Vukcevic, Roberts, Hanley.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1) Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Andre Santos; Song, Arteta; Arshavin, Ramsey, Gervinho; van Persie.
Subs: Fabianski, Walcott, Djourou, Gibbs, Chamakh, Benayoun, Coquelin.
Referee Andre Marriner
There has been a mass protest against Steve Kean before the game. After five games as well. The protest itself is in dubious taste, but Rovers fans have got a dog and a dead man on board: somebody has stuck a 'Steve Kean out!!' between the feet of the statue of Jack Walker! This is the most absurd protest ever. One kid has a poster that reads 'Drink driver Kean out'.
1 min Blackburn kick off from left to right. They are in blue and white; Arsenal are in red.
2 min "So Rob, what kind of epiphany did Bryan Adams induce in your early 90s head?" says Vinay Aravind. "I would absolutely love to know. He's been accused of many things but never before, in my recollection, of inducing epiphanies. And sub-question, which other 80s/90s power balled peddlers have induced similar epiphanies?" Alone by Heart. Toy Soldiers by Martika. And, of course, Could've Been by Tiffany. As for the epiphany, a gentleman never tells.
3 min Hoilett is found on the left wing by Formica, and sets off on a thrilling run outside Sagna, beating him for pace easily. That takes him into the box, at the byline, and his stabbed right-footed cross is claimed by Szczesny. It was a lovely run though.
4 min This is a decent start from Blackburn, confident and aggressive. Rochina tries his luck from 25 yards. He makes a total balls of it, the left-footed shot flying miles wide, but it's the thought that counts.
5 min Van Persie volleys Sagna's cross miles wide from 12 yards. The cross was fractionally behind him, and Van Persie went with his left foot when he should probably have gone with the right. It was a quarter chance at best.
6 min "Is this thing worthy of a Saturday morning riff or what?" says Philip Podolsky.
8 min Sagna's deep cross is headed back across goal by Van Persie, and booted clear from under his own bar by Dann. I think it would have drifted wide of the far post, but he couldn't take any chances.
9 min There is no way this Blackburn team will go down. Mind you, I said that about Portsmouth at a similar stage of the 2009-10 season.
GOAL! Blackburn 0-1 Arsenal (Gervinho 10) Gervinho gets his first goal for Arsenal. Song played a lovely angled through ball, from the centre to the right, and Gervinho crunched it first time back across goal, through the legs of Samba and into the far corner. The keeper Paul Robinson didn't move. It might have taken a nick off Samba's legs but, if so, it didn't divert the path of the ball significantly.
11 min "Great Putin link from Philip Podolsky," says Ryan Dunne, "but the REAL captions are much more compelling than the official versions."
13 min My colleague Tom Bryant has just told me that, with an average age of 26 years and 22 days, this is Blackburn's youngest side since 1999. Something else happened to them in 1999: they were relegated. Not that they can be relegated in 2011, unless something very weird happens.
14 min There was a deflection off Samba for the goal, without which, on reflection, Robinson would have had a chance of making a save. The goal has changed the mood of the game, as goals do, and Arsenal are totally dominant just now.
17 min At the moment Arshavin is playing on the left with Gervinho on the right, although it's a pretty fluid system. Liquid tactics.
18 min "David Cameron's PR team are curled up in the corner of a room, weeping gently..." says Phillippa Booth of that Putin link. "(That dog – no.15 – looks very, very scared.)"
19 min An enforced substitution for Blackburn: Michel Salgado limps off to be replaced by Radosav Petrovic.
19 min Samba misses a great chance to equalise. Formica drills a flat, angled free kick from left to right; it comes to the unmarked Samba, six yards out and just beyond the back post, but he screws a poor header wide of goal. He looked accusingly at Dann afterwards, as if Dann had put him off. Either way, it was a bad miss.
20 min When an Arsenal corner is only half cleared, Arshavin bobbles a volley towards goal from 20 yards that Robinson has to plunge to his right to palm away.
21 min Jason Lowe has gone to right back for Blackburn, with Petrovic in midfield.
22 min A cracking save from Robinson denies Gervinho, who sweerved smartly away from Nzonzi and Givet before leathering the ball towards the near post from a tightish angle on the right of the box.
24 min Arsenal are destroying the left back Givet with a series of two-on-one attacks. Sagna breaks into space, attracts Givet and then cuts the ball back to Gervinho, who spanks over from the edge of the box.
GOAL! Blackburn 1-1 Arsenal (Yakubu 25) Yakubu scores on his debut! It was a neat goal, too. Hoilett toe-poked a soft, crafty through pass to Yakubu, who made a lovely angled run behind the defence before stabbing the ball back across Szczesny and slowly into the corner. That's a fine finish, hit really early before the keeper was set. Arsenal's defending wasn't great, though: their defensive line was all over the place, with Andre Santos four yards deeper than everyone else.
28 min "Never mind the fear of mere dogs," says Ryan Dunne. "The bear in photo 18 has clearly just attempted to stare down the mighty Putin, and lost!"
29 min It's pouring down now. Hoilett is an interesting player. His defensive negligence hasn't helped Givet at all, but he has shown three or four touches of serious quality going forward.
30 min Blackburn win a corner on the left. It's drilled flat by Formica and headed over by the stretching Samba. He has Koscielny's number on set pieces.
31 min Sagna is down after a hefty tackle from Dann. He did get the ball, but he really clattered into Sagna as well. After a bit of treatment, Sagna is fine to continue.
32 min Formica and Rochina are two very confident players, who strut around the field as if they own it. In fact there's a lot to like about this Blackburn side. They play some very watchable football.
GOAL! Blackburn 1-2 Arsenal (Arteta 34) Mikel Arteta scores a beautiful goal. The excellent Sagna played a piercing ball down the inside-right channel for Ramsey, who had run off Nzonzi. The logical ball for Ramsey was across the face of goal, but he cut it back ingeniously for the onrushing Arteta, who met the ball 15 yards out and swept it emphatically into the top of the net. That's just a brilliant goal, two great passes and a fine finish.
36 min So Gervinho, Yakubu and Arteta have all scored their first goal for their new clubs today.
38 min This has been a really enjoyable game. That's all.
39 min Arsenal are threatening to overwhelm Blackburn, who just need to get to half-time at 2-1.
40 min Hoilett nutmegs Sagna and then bodyswerves past Song, who just shoves him over. Is Hoilett always this exciting? He looks like a player of rich potential.
42 min Arsenal have a five-on-three break, but Gervinho hits a woeful and woefully ambitious crossfield pass out of play.
43 min "Paul Robinson has now conceded 52 PL goals against Arsenal, the most by any 'keeper against a single opponent in PL history," emails my colleague James Dart. That's what playing at Leeds does to a man.
44 min Scott Dann makes a goal-saving tackle. Lowe was skinned down the left by Arshavin, who played the ball across the face of the area to Gervinho. He probably should have found Van Persie; instead he went alone and had his shot blocked desperately by the legs of Dann.
Half time: Blackburn 1-2 Arsenal That was an excellent half of football, primarily but not exclusively from Arsenal. See you in 10 minutes.
The best half-time email, ever
"Crisis? You have no idea sunshine...i'm about 12 hrs in to an LSD trip and regretting it
I've started three bestselling novels about jonny bairstow and his dad the last 4 hrs
P.S. I wish this wasn't true."
My faith in the Guardian readership is restored.
A song for our LSD hero. You can do it lad. Just keep on writing those bestsellers.
46 min Arsenal kick off from left to right.
47 min "Re: The best halftime email, ever," begins Per Vestlund. "Bloody hell, that was poetic. I´m shaken. Good luck to him in his life, and I DO want to read that novel, please." Those novels. Anyway, never mind the novels; I want him to MBM the second half.
48 min It's been a slow start to the half, with Arsenal passing it around at the back.
49 min "Whilst I do believe Wenger do be a chess player of the highest order, why hasn't he instructed Mertesacker to mark Samba on set-pieces?" asks Adam Allaway. "It's an accident waiting to happen." It's a very good point, one I'd have made had I been, y'know, doing my job properly.
GOAL! Blackburn 2-2 Arsenal (Song own goal 50) An Andrex-soft own goal brings Blackburn level. Lowe was fouled by Arshavin on the right wing, just outside the area. The free-kick was chipped gently towards the six-yard box by Formica, and hit the thigh of the unsighted Song before dribbling almost apologetically into the corner.
52 min Arshavin's fierce shot from the edge of the area is blocked by Samba and flies away for a corner. It's curved in by Arteta and Song, six yards out, heads it into the ground and wide of the far post. That was a decent chance.
53 min Arsenal's first substitution: Johan Djourou replaces the limping Bacary Sagna at right-back.
54 min Szczesny makes a fantastic save to keep Arsenal level. Rochina slipped a fine through ball to Formica on the right side of the box, he hammered it first time across goal, and Szczesny plunged to his right to make a brilliant stop.
55 min "It may just be the effect of seeing him in an Arsenal shirt for the first time, but Per Mertesacker is reminding me so much of Tony Adams," says Steve Betteley. "He certainly moves like him, that sort of long, slightly lopsided stride that makes him look like a purposeful giraffe. He's only 26 and already has 76 caps for Germany? He's a terrific signing, could be the most important Wenger's made since Sol Campbell."
55 min Arsenal are suddenly all over the place. Yakubu puts Rochina clear on the left side of the box, but he faffs for a split second and is crowded out.
56 min A second substitution for Blackburn, with Martin Olsson replacing the impressive Ruben Rochina.
57 min Djourou is booked for a cynical pull on Hoilett, who had beaten him down the left wing.
58 min "Enjoyed that...kinda," says our LSD hero. "Missed who got the equaliser though. And more of that schtick." You too brother.
59 min The life of the mind has rarely been more evident than in this match: all four goals have prompted mighty shifts in momentum, and at the moment it's all Blackburn. Hoilett wins a corner on the left...
GOAL! Blackburn 3-2 Arsenal (Yakubu 59) .... and it leads to another goal! This is ridiculous. Hoilett drilled the corner flat and very deep to Nzonzi, who took the ball down and then belted it back across the face of the goal. Yakubu, a couple of yards out and in an offside position, touched it into the net.
60 min That goal was definitely offside. Not by much, but enough to make Arsenal feel pretty aggrieved, especially as they should have been about 5-2 up at half time.
63 min Gervinho on a long, swerving run infield from the right, all the way into the D. Then he plays an angled pass to Van Persie, whose shot is blocked at the cost of a corner. It's curled towards the near post by Arteta, and Van Persie flicks a header wide of that near post.
64 min Theo Walcott replaces Andrey Arshavin.
65 min Now Blackburn make their last substitution: Simon Vukcevic comes on in place of the eye-catching Mauro Formica.
66 min "Back in the 80s, a friend of a friend (honest!) used to drop acid before going to Goodison," says Gary Naylor. "He claimed that the colours of the kits set against the backdrop of the green pitch was such that it enhanced the trip no end. I was happy just to see Bracewell and Reid boss the midfield."
67 min It has been pelting down for almost the entire match, which has added to the primal feel of a cracking match. Dann is rightly booked for a cynical on Walcott, who has stormed pace him on the edge of the box.
68 min Louis Saha's on one here. Anyone know what it's about? STOP TWITTER.
GOAL! Blackburn 4-2 Arsenal (Koscielny own goal 69) It's another own goal! Oh my days, this is preposterous. It came from an Arsenal corner, with Blackburn counter-attacking thrillingly. Olsson roared down the right, past Djourou, into the box and then around Song. He stabbed it across the face of goal from the byline, and it deflected off the helpless Koscielny into the net.
70 min Two own goals, an offside goal, and Arsenal have had 65 per cent of the possession. What must Arsene Wenger be thinking?
72 min Andre Santos's vicious cross is palmed away by the leaping Robinson. Olsson was booked in the aftermath of the goal, for celebrating with the crowd. No joy please, this is football.
73 min A fantastic cross from Walcott somehow eludes everyone.
74 min Blackburn have had three shots on target and scored four goals. You do the mat.
75 min Arsenal are having all of the ball now, as you'd expect. Walcott wins a corner on the right, which is taken by Van Persie and headed clear very well by Dann. Seconds later, Robinson tips Van Persie's header over the bar, a fairly routine save. Before the corner is taken, Marouane Chamakh replaces Alex Song.
76 min "I am arsene wengers gnawing doubts..." says LSD Hero. "So good once but never quite..."
77 min "Mertesacker is basically just Peter Crouch but at centre-back: slow, good touch for a big man, woefully unaggressive, and lots of international caps without ever performing in a major tournament," says his No1 fan, Patrick Rennie.
78 min Nzonzi tries to coax a long-range curler into the right corner, but he doesn't get enough on it and Szczesny makes a rudimentary plunging save.
79 min The MBM readership is on one today. "I was supposed to get up at 9 for Ireland and now it's this time, does anyone know has anyone ever died from a hangover?" says David Clarke. "This time I think I could please help I have the fear, could you email me or ring me and tell me its ok also. Thank you."
80 min Blackburn have nine outfield players behind the ball, which is making life pretty difficult for Arsenal. And they are breaking dangerously too. A goal at either end wouldn't be a surprise. How's that for insight?
81 min The lively Walcott moves infield from the left and hits a good shot that is deflected wide off Van Persie. Andre Marriner gives a corner, thinking it hit Samba, and it almost produces a goal. Arteta's corner found the backleaping Van Persie, just six yards out, and his header was pawed away instinctively by Robinson. That's a very good save.
83 min "Man alive the MBM is a bit Hunter S.Thompson today," says Ryan Dunne. "And to think I gave up caffeine yesterday! (NB a hangover per se can't kill you, but alcohol withdrawal can, so hair of the dog is surely what the Doctor ordered.)" What did the doc say about LSD?
GOAL! Blackburn 4-3 Arsenal (Chamakh 85) Another cracking goal brings Arsenal back into the game. Van Persie, wide on the left, curves over a majestic cross – the sort of service he craves himself – and Chamakh towers over two defenders to send a flying header into the corner from six yards. Mick Harford would have loved that goal.
87 min Walcott's deep, bouncing cross flies beyond the far post to Chamakh. He helps it back whence it came, and the, er, desperate Dann dives to head clear.
88 min "Will The Guardian be rerunning the hilarious 'Have Arsenal turned the corner' poll on Monday?" asks Adrian Riley. It was a poll, not a 10,000-word inscription asserting they would win the next 12 Champions Leagues. What's your point?
89 min A stupid foul from Djourou on Yakubu gives Blackburn a breather. Djourou has been startlingly inept since coming on.
90 min There will be four minutes of added blood pressure for Steve Kean.
90+1 min Blackburn have the ball where they want it, in the Arsenal third of the pitch.
90+2 min Mertesacker misses a great chance! Andre Santos curled over another fantastic cross from the left, all the way to the far post. Mertesacker climbed above Givet but planted his header over the bar from four yards.
90+3 min Now Robinson makes a fine save from Van Persie! Gervinho stabbed a pass down the side of the defence, and Van Persie hammered it towards the near post from the right corner of the six-yard box. Robinson stood tall to block it with his chest.
90+4 min Yet another chance for Arsenal. They were wrongly given a corner, which was half cleared to Walcott. He eased it to Andre Santos on the left, and he clipped a good cross to the near post, where Chamakh headed it down and wide from 10 yards.
90+5 min Arsenal should surely have had a penalty there. Walcott hared into the box on the left, beat Robinson to a loose ball and tried to lob it over Robinson. His shot was blocked by a covering defender, and the same time Walcott went flying. It looked a clear penalty for a foul on Walcott by Robinson; having seen it again I'm not sure. Robinson pulled his hands down and it may just have Walcott's inconsiderable momentum that knocked him over.
Full time: Blackburn 4-3 Arsenal What a preposterous game of football, joyously entertaining from start to finish. I can't sum it up in a paragraph, so I shan't bother trying. Thanks for your emails; bye.