Arsenal should be full of confidence as they look to make it into the FA Cup sixth round on Saturday when they face Blackburn at Ashburton Grove. I`ll admit that I was among them that thought Arsenal would not make it to this stage after the 1-1 draw with Bolton in the last round.
As I`m sure most of you are aware, Arsenal`s record in the North West is far from perfect. The Gunners have suffered at the hands of Bolton, Blackburn and Liverpool amongst others there in the past. Whilst Arsenal have still suffered up north this season, their record is improved on last season.
Arsene Wenger has vowed to rotate his squad for the match ahead of Arsenal`s trip to Eindhoven in the week for the first leg of Arsenal`s Champions League first knock out round tie against PSV.
In their 2 games against Blackburn this season Arsenal have scored 8 and conceded 2. A slightly flattering 6-2 victory at The Grove and a convincing 2-0 win a Ewood Park saw Arsenal ‘do the double` over Blackburn this season.
Arsene Wenger praised Denilson ahead of the match against Blackburn, saying that after his performances in this season’s Carling Cup he has earned the right to play in other competitions: “The Carling Cup side has won the right to play and some of them will feature in the FA Cup now,” said Wenger.
“If I had never played Denilson in the Carling Cup I would never have played him at Bolton. The fact that he did so well in the Carling Cup won him the right to be involved up there, against Blackburn on Saturday and maybe even in the Champions League, I don`t know.
“Some players have grown through this Carling Cup competition and that means they will play in the other ones.’
The Arsenal Team News:
Excellent news – Billy Gallas is back in the squad for this one. The powerful defender hasn’t played for almost 3 months but he could even start this game!
gilberto, Diaby, Baptista and Lehmann are all rested ahead of Tuesday’s game against PSV while Alex Hleb (Cold), Johan Djourou (knee) and Robin Van Persie are all out. Major doubts remain over the fitness of Flamini and Eboue.
Player to watch: Cesc Fabregas
The young Spainard is due a goal. He hasn’t scoed since his double over Zagreb back in August, despite being in outstanding form this season.
People have been saying this for the best part of 2 years now but I honeslty think that Fabregas is now coming of age. He is showing that he has what it takes to dominate games for 90 minutes at every level.
Blackburn Team News:
Blackburn’s top scorer Benni McCarthy will miss out with an Achilles injury Along with Morten Gamest Pederson who misses out with a Hamstring injury.
Bruno Berner and Christopher Samba are both pushing for a starting place after missing out on Blackburn’s Uefa Cup match midweek.
Player to watch: David Bentley
The Young winger/striker has looked the part for Blackburn this season, grabbing some important goals. He may not be living up to his original ‘Next Dennis Bergkamp’ tag, but was that ever realistic?
Clichy will have to keep a close eye on him and Rosicky will need to get back to support his left back.
Arsenal are still unbeaten in the best part of 2 months, their last loss was a 1-0 defeat away to Sheffield United in December.
Arsenal have won half of their last 6 games, drawing the other 3.
Last 6 games: P6 W3 D3
Blackburn are in reasonable form. They gave a good account of themselves in midweek, despite losing 3-2 to Bayer Leverkusen.
Last 6: P6 W2 D0 L4
I think this is going to be a great FA Cup game. 3-2 to The Arsenal. Bentley and Nonda to make it 2-0 for Blackburn before Arsenal stage a superb comback to win 3-2 thanks to goals from Henry, Adebayor and Julio ‘The Beast’ Baptista.
Vital Member’s View:
This week sees the return of our Member’s view. To celebrate we have new Vital Arsenal singing Wingston’s opinion on this weekend’s match.
‘As for the weekend’s game, my main concern is the tiredness resulting from Wed’s exertions, and Arsene’s possible caginess in holding players back for the PSV CL tie, which he has admitted is the priority of the season.
With Benni McCarthy out, along with Pedersen (according to the BBC preview) , the main concerns would appear to fall onto Shabani Nonda and Bentley, who was missing in our fixture at Ewood Park.
Overall, i feel we’ll have too much rovers, but we’ll have to be on top of our game, and we’ve seen recently that sending out a jaded team can result in a real tussle for the right result (Boro away).
I have a feeling that Billy might get 20 mins tomorrow, and a suspicion that Theo could come on and nick a goal. I’d also like to see Kolo get a day off if possible… i think he needs it. A tense, nervy 2-1 to the Arse, going right to the wire.’