Arsenal enter the history books in irresistible style

Arsenal 3 Blackburn Rovers 0

The record established by Nottingham Forest in Old Labour's long distant winter of discontent, was inevitably and stylishly eclipsed last night by another set of reds. Arsenal were delayed but not denied at Highbury by a Blackburn Rovers side whose endeavour ultimately proved no match for the champions' irresistible attacking brio.

Early in the second period Theirry Henry's third goal of the season broke Rovers' resistance. Cesc Fabregas soon added a second to extend Arsenal's record unbeaten run to 43 league matches and, equally significantly, secure their return to the Premiership summit. A third goal, by Jose Antonio Reyes, was just icing but its selfless provision by Henry typified the platform on which this team's artistry is based.

Twenty-six years ago Forest's unbeaten run foundered on a Liverpool midfield built around the grit of Graeme Souness. Last night the former Scottish international was confined to a touchline he prowled constantly but for 50 minutes those same qualities were evident in his Rovers' team.

From the indomitable Craig Short, through the persevering Dominic Matteo to the waspish Paul Dickov Rovers provided stern resistance. Many teams, said ex-Arsenal player Ray Parlour before his new Middlesbrough team lost here at the weekend, are beaten in the Highbury tunnel. Rovers, though, have a good record against Arsenal and they travelled without fear.

They did, admittedly, take a while to settle. Arsenal began where they left off against Boro slipping through the banks of blue and white shirts with polished ease. Thrice in the first five minutes Henry tested Brad Friedel, twice from open play and in between from a free-kick conceded by Short's mis-timed lunge on Gilberto Silva.

That was one of a series of fouls committed by Rovers in the opening exchanges but, gradually, they began to gain a measure of possession and take the game to Arsenal. Jens Lehmann, badly at fault on Sunday, achieved a measure of redemption with a sharp save from Short's 19th minute volley following a Brett Emerton cross. He then denied Dickov after the former Arsenal striker had wriggled though.

An indignant Arsenal responded with a sweeping move featuring Henry and Jermaine Pennant - who was making his first start since scoring a hat-trick against Southampton in May 2003 - but it ended with Fabregas shooting wide. The young Spaniard was on target soon after but his shot struck Robert Pires and flew over.

Arsenal began the second period as they had the first, but with better luck. After Pennant had forced another save from Friedel, Fabregas found Dennis Bergkamp in space on the right - none of the three left-backs in the Rovers team having picked him up. Bergkamp whipped a superb cross between the Rovers' central defence and goalkeeper, and Henry stabbed in at the far post.

Eight minutes later the record was secure. The clinching goal came, untypically, from a corner. Curled in by Henry it was met at the far post by Gilberto Silva, the ball going in off Fabregas. Arsenal were now rampant. With 11 minutes remaining Henry sprinted past Nils-Eric Johansson and, though Friedel saved his shot, Henry calmly recovered the ball, dummied Johansson, then squared for Reyes to tap in. It was Arsenal's 12th league goal of the season, in only their third game.

All this and Patrick Vieira and Sol Campbell are yet to kick a ball this season.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Lehmann; Lauren, Touré, Cygan, Cole; Pennant (Ljungberg, 76), Gilberto Silva, Fabregas (Flamini, 85), Pires; Bergkamp (Reyes, 76), Henry. Substitutes not used: Hoyte, Almunia (gk).

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Friedel; Neill, Short, Johansson, Gray; Emerton, Tugay (De Pedro, 76), Matteo, Gresko; Dickov, Stead (Yorke, 62). Substitutes not used: Amoruso, Flitcroft, Enckelman (gk).

Referee: N Barry (North Lincs).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower