Belfast Telegraph

Ten-man Rovers frustrate Gunners

Arsenal were left frustrated as their Barclays Premier League title hopes suffered a setback after struggling Blackburn battled to a goalless draw at Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners - who now trail leaders Manchester United by seven points with a match in hand - had plenty of possession but were unable to really test Paul Robinson.

Rovers - who had lost five of their last eight matches - grew in confidence and survived the dismissal of midfielder Steven Nzonzi to earn a valuable point in their battle against relegation.

With United having come from behind to win at West Ham earlier on Saturday, Arsenal could not afford another off day following two successive draws before the international break - but that is exactly what transpired.

It had been a positive start by the Gunners, with fit-again Theo Walcott looking lively down the right. Robin van Persie fed Samir Nasri on the overlap but as the Frenchman cut the ball back on to the penalty spot, Jack Wilshere somehow stabbed his first-time shot wide.

Manuel Almunia had been a spectator but the Gunners keeper was almost embarrassed when Martin Olsson's 25-yard effort took a slight deflection and he was left out of position as the ball bounced off his gloves and rolled just past the post.

Again the hosts started brightly after the restart but the game soon slipped back into the same pattern as Rovers continued to break up Arsenal's attacks with relative ease.

Arsene Wenger had seen enough and with 32 minutes to go sent on captain Cesc Fabregas on his return from a hamstring injury.

Arsenal, however, continued to lack a creative spark in the final third as time and again they failed to find the decisive pass.

After 76 minutes, Rovers were reduced to 10 men when Nzonzi was shown a straight red card after jumping in two-footed on Laurent Koscielny but the Gunners were unable to take advantage as Steve Kean's battling side held on for a point.

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