Saturday, 17 September 2011

Blackburn v Arsenal – Preview

While the pressure has perhaps eased slightly on Arsène and Arsenal after encouraging if unspectacular results against Swansea and Borussia Dortmund, the same cannot be said of Steve Kean and his Blackburn Rovers team. Indeed, a protest is apparently scheduled before the match tomorrow. If that’s the case then the Blackburn fans will have to be up and about early – it’s a lunchtime kick off at Ewood Park.

Rovers’ bad run of form is even worse than ours, and a solitary point gained against Fulham last weekend has meant that they are currently rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table. The problem with that is that the only way is up, and Blackburn will be looking to stop the rot against an Arsenal side that is not firing on all cylinders yet. In addition, they are gradually bedding in their own new signings in the shape of defender Scott Dann and forward David Goodwillie. The Argentine Mauro Formica and Spaniard Rubén Rochina, both of whom arrived in January, are also still finding a way into the Blackburn team. Both look promising, and the latter in particular is a talented striker from Barcelona's famous cantera who scored a great goal against Fulham. Junior Hoilett has also started the season well, one of the few positives for Blackburn fans in 2011/12 so far.

Still, Arsenal should have more than enough to deal with these threats and cause problems of their own. We should get to see more of our own new additions, Benayoun and Arteta, while Gervinho and Song will also return to the side after red card suspensions – they will, I feel, prove to be big players this season and therefore keeping out of the referee’s notebook in future is vital for both. Injury news – apart from the worryingly long list of absentees already (Wilshere, Vermaelen, Diaby, Squillaci) – is that Rosicky and Ramsey are both still doubts, although and Sky Sports suggest that young Aaron might still have a chance of playing. If he is out then the team is likely to be unchanged from the Dortmund game, although it will be interesting to see whether Gibbs keeps his place over Santos. The sensible decision is that Gibbs should start, but he was pretty poor (uncharacteristically so, to be fair) in Germany, and like a lot of fans I’m itching to see what our new Brazilian can offer. Similarly, it would be good to see Ju Young Park get a run-out as a second-half substitute.

Given Blackburn’s appalling home form, three points looks eminently achievable tomorrow and would be another step on the road to recovery for the Gunners.

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