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Last Updated: Monday, 11 February 2008, 21:56 GMT
Arsenal 2-0 Blackburn
By Chris Bevan

Philippe Senderos celebrates after putting Arsenal ahead
Philippe Senderos celebrates after putting Arsenal ahead
Arsenal extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to five points after beating Blackburn despite an unconvincing performance.

Philippe Senderos headed home Eduardo's corner to give Arsenal an early lead.

But Rovers quickly dug in and the Gunners did not threaten again until Alex Hleb hit the post after the break.

Blackburn keeper Brad Friedel denied Emmanuel Adebayor twice but the Togo striker added a late second when he drilled his shot home in injury time.

Sunday's results - which saw second-placed Manchester United lose to neighbours Manchester City and third-placed Chelsea held by Liverpool - had handed Arsenal the advantage in the title race.

And the way the Gunners started the game suggested they had learnt from watching their rivals slip up.

Arsene Wenger's men began at an incredible tempo and simply did not give the visitors any time to settle.

When Tugay was caught in possession, Eduardo escaped and, although the chance was wasted when the Croatian dwelled on the ball - allowing Andre Ooijer to recover - a Gunners' goal was not far away.

606: DEBATE
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Eduardo sent across the resulting corner and Benni McCarthy's abysmal attempt to mark Senderos meant the Swiss international was all alone as he planted his header in the back of the net in the fourth minute.

It was uncharacteristic defending from Mark Hughes' side, who were protecting an unbeaten league record in 2008, but they did not immediately learn their lesson.

There were still gaps at the back on 20 minutes when Cesc Fabregas sent Mathieu Flamini racing clear down the right, only for Friedel to come to Rovers' rescue, blocking smartly with his legs.

But from then on, Rovers tightened things up and could even have managed an unlikely equaliser before the break as Arsenal's early momentum disappeared.

Brett Emerton found space on the right to turn in an inviting cross but McCarthy failed to make any meaningful contact in front of goal and only succeeded in diverting the ball away from team-mate Roque Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz also just failed to reach a Stephen Warnock cross and Jens Lehmann turned David Bentley's free-kick round the post as Rovers continued to improve.

Arsenal finally awoke from their slumber in the second half, with Hleb smashing his shot against the base of Friedel's right-hand post with the keeper well beaten.

Belatedly, the Gunners began to show some of their early fluency but Friedel was in imperious mood, twice denying Adebayor and pushing away a drilled effort from Hleb.

Friedel's form allowed Blackburn to push forward again, with the visitors sensing they could still salvage something from the match.

But instead it was Adebayor who had the final word, teeing himself up with a clever first-touch from Hleb's pass in the penalty area before shooting low into the corner of the net.

It was Adebayor's 22nd goal of the season and he has now scored in nine successive games.


Arsenal: Lehmann, Sagna, Gallas, Senderos, Clichy, Fabregas, Flamini, Silva, Hleb, Adebayor, Eduardo.
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Bendtner, Traore, Justin Hoyte, Gilbert.

Booked: Fabregas.

Goals: Senderos 4, Adebayor 90.

Blackburn: Friedel, Emerton, Ooijer (Rigters 80), Khizanishvili, Warnock, Kerimoglu (Mokoena 77), Bentley, Reid, McCarthy (Roberts 77), Berner, Santa Cruz.
Subs Not Used: Brown, Kane.

Att: 60,049

Ref: Steve Bennett (Kent).


BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Arsenal's Emmanuel Adebayor 7.31 (on 90 minutes).

  • Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

  • SEE ALSO
    Wenger wary despite Arsenal lead
    11 Feb 08 |  Arsenal
    Monday's football photos
    11 Feb 08 |  Football


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