Football: Blackburn hand Arsenal a lesson in commitment and care

Arsenal 1 Blackburn Rovers 3

Surely it cannot be that Arsene Wenger is unsure of his ability to see and interpret the innermost workings of Ian Wright's psyche. "He's 34 so I think it is too late to change him," the Arsenal manager could be heard saying after the 3-1 defeat by Blackburn.

Wenger, who claimed to be unaware that Wright had been spoken to by the police for yelling insults at disgruntled supporters from a window of Arsenal's dressing-room, should think again.

Pragmatism now prevails in football, but this latest incident puts Arsenal's record goalscorer beyond mitigation. After all, this is the club that once parted with a notable Scottish international, Jimmy Logie, at the time their captain, simply because he snubbed Russian opponents following a friendly at Highbury and the club who sacked a defender who was sent off in an FA Cup tie.

There is a temptation to say that Arsenal should deal with Wright in a similar manner. It won't happen of course - his prowess will see to that - but how much more can Arsenal afford to tolerate from this discredited idol? To suggest, as some do, that Wright is as much sinned against as sinning is nonsense. Pleas for tolerance entered in the hope that he would get, and accept, a chance to grow up have not brought about an improvement in his general behaviour.

If the biggest, this is only one of Arsenal's problems. Equally disturbing for Wenger is the absence of spirit that showed itself again on Saturday when Blackburn seized the initiative. A phrase Wenger uses frequently to describe play in the Premiership is "fighting football". It comes across in the form of a complaint, as though Arsenal are bound to suffer against teams who are big on commitment and passion. Wenger was at it again on Saturday, putting Arsenal's failings down to the fact that Blackburn's industry upset the procedures of which his players are capable.

Anybody who observes English football closely will be aware that for all its affluence, the Premier League is not what it is cracked up to be in newspapers and across the airwaves. Where is all this technical improvement people keep going on about?

Not exactly going out of their way to make Arsenal's task easier, Blackburn put paid eventually to the notion that a challenge to Manchester United will come this season from north London. On this performance you wouldn't bet on Wenger's team with someone else's money.

No wonder that Arsenal departed the scene to sounds of derision. Though they were a goal ahead in the 15th minute, when Marc Overmars took crafty advantage of uncertainty in Blackburn's defence, it was soon pretty obvious that they weren't going anywhere. A fitful performance from Dennis Berg- kamp and not much of an overall contribution by Overmars, who still hasn't proved himself as a creative influence in midfield.

Once Arsenal's defenders began to show their age under Blackburn's intelligent counter-attacks there was only going to be one winner. As an example of how carelessness can bring a team down, Jason Wilcox's equaliser was just about perfect. First, David Platt gave the ball away, then Adams gifted it to Stuart Ripley. The cross was nudged on by Chris Sutton and Wilcox drove Blackburn level.

Kevin Gallacher's goal, his 10th of the season, was a cracker. Taking Sutton's flick wide of the stranded Adams, Gallacher whipped a volley into the top far corner.

With Arsenal forced to gamble, Blackburn might have scored two more before Tim Sherwood rounded things off shortly after hitting the crossbar.

When Blackburn lost heavily at Manchester United two weeks ago, Roy Hodgson knew how important it was to quickly restore confidence. "Not much went for us at Old Trafford but a defeat like that can set a negative attitude in motion," Blackburn's manager said. "We had two wingers out there today and although they both work hard, we were, more, or less, playing 4-2-4 with the risk of being outnumbered in midfield. That was the reason for Arsenal's goal, but once our players sorted that out we settled down nicely."

After his achievements abroad, Hodgson himself is settling down nicely in the Premiership. And no complaints from him about the intensity of English football. That's something else for Wenger to think about.

Goals: Overmars (16) 1-0; Wilcox (57) 1-1; Gallacher (65) 1-2; Sherwood (89) 1-3.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Seaman; Dixon, Adams, Keown, Winterburn; Parlour (Vieira, 65), Platt (Boa Morte, 76 ), Petit, Overmars; Bergkamp, Wright. Substitutes not used: Bould, Anelka, Manninger (gk).

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Flowers; Kenna, Hendry, Henchoz, Croft; Ripley (Flitcroft, 68), Sherwood, McKinlay, Wilcox; Gallacher, Sutton. Substitutes not used: Pedersen, Anderson, Valery, Fettis (gk).

Referee: G Willard (Worthing)

Bookings: Arsenal: Parlour, Adams, Bergkamp, Wright. Blackburn: Kenna, Croft, McKinlay, Hendry.

Man of the match: Gallacher.

Attendance: 38,147.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: General Manager

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of global logisti...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager - £70,000 OTE

£35000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Manager (Vice President...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Marketing Executive i...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable