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PREMIER LEAGUE: Arsenal back with a bang over battling Blackburn

Arsenal have bounced back to winning ways in the Premier League with a scintillating 7-1 victory over a hapless Blackburn Rovers at the Emirates Stadium today.

The Gunners were irresistible throughout to jump back to fifth place on the table with their first victory of 2012 thanks to a hat-trick from captain Robin van Persie - now on 22 goals from 24 league appearances this term - a double from the impressive Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and singles from Mikel Arteta and Thierry Henry with Theo Walcott running riot providing three assists.

Blackburn, who leveled through Morten Gamst Pedersen in the 32nd minute, had defender Gael Givet sent off late in the first half when the score was 3-1 and after that it only got worse as Arsene Wenger's side gave themselves hope for a top-four finish with Steve Kean's outfit falling to second bottom.

Arsenal opened the scoring in just the 2nd minute when Francis Coquelin played a neat ball through to Walcott on the right side of the area and he supplied a perfect low cross for van Persie to slot home with ease from inside the six-yard box for his 20th league goal of the campaign.

Against the run of play, Blackburn leveled just after the half-hour mark when loan striker Anthony Modeste won a free-kick outside the area. Morten Gamst Pedersen stepped up to the dead ball and skillfully curled a left-footer over the wall and into Wojciech Szczesny's top right corner from about 20 yards.

About seven minutes after the leveler, Arsenal were deservedly back in front when Alex Song picked out Walcott with a perfect through ball and the winger again provided a dangerous final ball with van Persie knocking it in, this with his right foot near the front post to make it 15 from his last 16 in all competitions.

A few minutes later, the Gunners were on cloud nine when van Persie turned from a central position to play in Oxlade-Chamberlain who took his first touch on the edge of the 'D' before rounding Rovers keeper Paul Robinson and threading it home for his first goal in the Premier League.

Things went from bad to worse for the Rovers later in the half when Gael Givet was shown a straight red for a dangerous studs-up tackle on van Persie and it could have been even more disastrous if Thomas Vermaelen's back post volley hadn't been denied by the upright.

Six minutes into the second half and Arsenal were able to extend their lead to three goals when van Persie hung up a corner from the right which was not properly cleared by N'Zonzi whose header fell at the feet of Koscielny. The French defender took a touch before leaving it for Mikel Arteta who hammered home from the edge of the area with a little help from a deflection on the way through.

The home side were soon floating even higher when Walcott made a brilliant run down the right side before changing route into the middle of the box where he teed up Oxlade-Chamberlain who took one touch before slotting home for his second and the Gunners' fifth in just the 54th minute.

All of a sudden it was six to Arsenal when Coquelin received a ball out wide on the right from Oxlade-Chamberlain and sent a cross to his skipper van Persie who finished expertly with his right foot from just past the front post outside the six-yard box to complete his second treble of the season.

In injury-time, a seventh goal was mustered when substitute Henry caught Grant Hanley in possession before striding forward, waiting for van Persie, who received his ball before playing it back to the French veteran who saw his side-footed effort take a deflection off Scott Dann and in past Robinson for some Henry-flavoured icing on the cake.

The North Londoners reveled in a near-perfect performance to exact revenge on Blackburn following the 4-3 result at Ewood Park back in September enabling Wenger to produce the perfect repost to his critics.

TRIBAL ASKS: Is this the result than can get things back on track for Arsenal after a mini-slump? Is Oxlade-Chamberlain the most exciting youngster going around at the moment? Where to now for Blackburn and Steve Kean?

Arsenal: 7 (Robin van Persie 2'/38'/62', Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 40'/54', Mikel Arteta 51', Thierry Henry 90+3') Blackburn Rovers: 1 (Morten Gamst Pedersen 32')

Emirates Stadium, London - 59,643

Yellow cards:ARS - Laurent Koscielny 31', Thomas Vermaelen 85' BLA - Anthony Modeste 15', Steven N'Zonzi 25', Martin Olsson 38'

Red card:BLA - Gael Givet 43'

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Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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