Premier League - Yakubu double downs dismal Arsenal
After Blackburn supporters called for his head during a protest prior to kick-off at Ewood Park, Steve Kean enjoyed a quite unexpected renaissance as Arsene Wenger's season discovered new depths with a 4-3 loss for Arsenal.
The Gunners looked in firm control after a first half that saw Gervinho and Mikel Arteta open their accounts for the club, even taking into account a debut goal from Yakubu as he took advantage of some characteristically slack defending from the visitors.
In a quite remarkable second-half at Ewood Park, though, Arsenal imploded in a fashion that is becoming all too familiar for the North London club and the under-pressure Wenger. Yakubu claimed a second, albeit from an offside position, and Alex Song and Laurent Koscielny both scored own goals as Wenger witnessed the disintegration of his defence.
Substitute Marouane Chamakh headed home for his first Premier League goal since November, but Blackburn held on for only their sixth win in 26 games under Kean, in the process condemning Arsenal to defeat and drawing level with the Gunners on four points from five games. However, Blackburn are ahead on goal difference.
Blackburn had lost nine times at home to Arsenal in the Premier League era - more than any other club - and struggled throughout a first half in which they afforded the visitors far too much space down the right wing and also saw the midfield trio of Aaron Ramsey, Song and Arteta dominate in the centre of the park.
Arsenal, who like Blackburn had endured their worst ever start to a Premier League campaign, restored Gervinho to the domestic starting line-up following the conclusion of his three-man ban and the Ivory Coast international claimed his first goal for the club after only ten minutes.
He produced a smart finish back through the legs of Christopher Samba, across Paul Robinson and into the far corner, but it was only a sumptuous through-ball from Song that opened up the Blackburn backline in the first place for Gervinho to take advantage.
Though Arsenal dominated possession they did suffer from some familiar flaws in defence. Samba should have scored when exploiting some poor marking and heading wide from a free-kick after 19 minutes, while Blackburn's equaliser after 25 minutes proved that while the personnel in Arsenal's defence has changed, their inability to play the offside trap has not.
Fulfilling the role of the now departed Gael Clichy was Andre Santos, making his Premier League debut, as the Brazilian played Yakubu on after 25 minutes, allowing the striker to collect a fine pass from Junior Hoilett and finish with a delightful flick with the outside of his boot to beat Wojciech Szczesny.
Arsenal claimed a second on 34 minutes and it was Arteta who applied the finishing touch. Song played in Ramsey with another lovely pass and his cut-back found Arteta, who lifted the ball past Robinson and into the roof of the net.
Just five minutes into the second half, and with the rain teeming down at Ewood Park, Blackburn found themselves unexpectedly level once again. A pretty innocuous free-kick from Ruben Rochina was not dealt with by Arsenal and when Gael Givet flicked the ball on it struck the thigh of Song and rolled past Szczesny.
Blackburn took heart from the goal and inside five minutes almost took the lead at Ewood Park. Koscielny was guilty of playing Hoilett onside as Arsenal's defensive problems came to bear once again and only a brilliant save from Szczesny prevented the forward from scoring.
The Gunners suddenly found themselves under siege and their ineptitude at the back was exploited once again as Blackburn went in front after 59 minutes. The visiting side failed to deal with a corner and when Nzonzi lashed the ball back across goal from a deep position, Yakubu turned it home. He was clearly offside but was not picked up by the assistant referee.
Arsenal's implosion continued on 69 minutes when they conceded a fourth, to the delight of Kean and the Blackburn supporters. Arsenal were caught upfield and after Johan Djourou failed to deal with Martin Olsson on the right wing, the Swede drove into the box and cut the ball back where an obliging Koscielny was ready to poke the ball into his own net.
Olsson was booked for his celebrations and should have been dismissed on 79 minutes when he was guilty of an embarrassing dive that conned the referee and should have drawn a second yellow card.
As Arsenal pushed for a late response, Van Persie saw a firm header clawed away by Robinson but the Blackburn keeper could not prevent Chamakh from pulling one back on 85 minutes as he got between Givet and Dann to head home from a Van Persie cross.
The Moroccan wasted another header late on, while Van Persie was denied by a fine save from Robinson, Per Mertesacker headed over when he should have scored in the final minutes and Theo Walcott had a strong shout for a late penalty.
However, Rovers clung on to record their first win of the season in unexpected fashion, while Arsenal are surely destined for another bout of soul-searching.