Saturday 4th February 1pm
The Emirates Stadium
This Saturday afternoon we welcome Blackburn Rovers to The Emirates for yet another in the constant list of must win matches.
Rovers were established on 5th November 1875 and became founder members of The Football League in 1888. They moved to their present home at Ewood Park in 1890. Very successful in the early years they won the League Title in 1911/12 and 1913/14 as well as the FA Cup in 1884, 1885, 1886, 1890, 1891, 1928 and The Charity Shield in 1912. Their win in 1994/95 makes them one of only four clubs to take The Premiership trophy. Their last honour came with winning the League Cup in 2002. From a list of 35 their most successful manager was Thomas Mitchell with 5 FA Cup wins between 1884 and 1891 and the Charity Shield in 1912.
By Skill & Hard Work
Owned for many years by the Steel Magnate Jack Walker they are now in the hands of the Indian Poultry Processors Venkys who paid a reported £23 million for the club.
Currently firmly ensconced in the relegation zone, Blackburn urgently need to start, if not winning games, then at least not losing them.
It is reported that Samba will not be in the squad to face Arsenal.
After taking only one point, from the last twelve available, Arsenal too need to start winning a few games if they are to stand any chance of achieving a top four finish or even qualification for The Europa League.
Wednesday’s draw with Bolton was yet another example of the malaise that has so often afflicted The Gunners, myriad goal scoring chances both created and wasted. Those culpable include Walcott, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain and even van Persie although, it must be said that Robin was extremely unlucky that his exquisite lob, which had the Bolton ’keeper well beaten, was just a fraction high and rebounded off the cross-bar. There’s nothing to be gained by prolonging the inquest of the last game so onto the next one.
There can be no question about the ‘keeper, it has to be Szczesny. The very welcome return of Sagna will definitely strengthen the back four which is beginning to take on a more settled look, although they do seem to lack a bit of communication at times.
In the mid-field it seems that Wenger is determined to stick with Ramsey even though the Welshman was showing signs of fatigue before he was substituted on Wednesday, maybe he is feeling the pressure but he needs to pick out a few more forward passes and try to keep the moves flowing. Arteta and Song will join him.
A front three of Walcott, van Persie and Oxlade-Chamberlain need no tinkering just a little more composure in front of goal.
Sagna Meretesacker Koscielny Vermaelen
Ramsey Song Arteta
Walcott van Persie Oxlade-Chamberlain
At the managers press conference Arsene Wenger cast a bit of doubt on the fitness of Oxlade-Chamberlain who jarred his knee on Wednesday and faces a fitness test tomorrow. The manager also said that he may rotate the starting eleven a bit as fatigue is a factor. This could mean that Rosicky will come in for Ramsey and Coquelin for Song.
A strong enough team to beat Blackburn? Of course it is!