Arsenal - Blackburn Preview: Defensive injuries hamper Gunners ahead of Rovers clash
With Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny ruled out and Wenger rotating ahead of their clash with Bayern Munich, the Championship outfit will hope to cause an FA Cup upset
By Sam Wells
Sagna, Mertesacker, Miquel, Monreal
Gervinho, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain
Orr, Dann, Hanley, Olsson
Pedersen, Murphy, Lowe, Olsson
Arsene Wenger looks set to rotate his squad from the team that overcame Sunderland in a 1-0 win last Saturday, as he appears intent upon resting some of his key players ahead of their Champions League clash with Bayern Munich on Tuesday.
Ignasi Miquel, having come on as a late substitute in the win against the Black Cats, looks set to deputise at centre-back, as Thomas Vermaelen (ankle) and Laurent Koscielny (calf) continue to struggle with injury.
There are further repercussions from their exertions against Sunderland as Jack Wilshere's dead leg in that tie rules him out of this FA Cup clash, while Carl Jenkinson is also ruled out with suspension after his red card in the same game.
Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Oliver Giroud are also likely to be rested from the team that started the Sunderland game, with Abou Diaby, Gervinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tomas Rosicky and Lukas Podolski coming in, as their manager clearly has one eye on their Champions League game in midweek.
Blackburn, meanwhile, will look to play a full-strength side as manager Michael Appleton appears ready to keep faith in the team that earned a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Brighton last Saturday.
The one change that is likely to be made, however, comes in the form of the experienced Morten Gamst-Pedersen replacing DJ Campbell, with Colin Kazim-Richards assuming a role alongside the free-scoring Jordan Rhodes upfront.
Jake Kean, meanwhile, looks set to keep his place in goal as former England international Paul Robinson remains out-of-favour with new boss Appleton.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Arsenal and Blackburn's recent encounters have been full of goals; their two encounters last season contained 15 goals.
- The last of those two games, with the Gunners at home, saw Arsenal romp to a 7-1 win, with Robin van Persie bagging a hat-trick.
- Wenger's side have also been impressive at home of late, having lost only one of the past seven games at the Emirates Stadium.
- Theo Walcott, though unlikely to start here, has been in blistering form this season and has already equalled his highest amount of assists in a Premier League season - eight (the same as 2011-12).
- Blackburn's Jordan Rhodes (pictured right) is also in scintillating form, having scored seven goals in his last seven games for Rovers.
- Blackburn remain unbeaten on their travels in 2013. Rovers are 10/1 to draw 1-1 with bet365.
- They have also been extremely tight at the back of late; having conceded only two goals in their last five games.
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Top 3 Predictions
Arsenal FC 3-0 Blackburn Rovers
- 19.56 %
Arsenal FC 2-0 Blackburn Rovers
- 15.23 %
Arsenal FC 3-1 Blackburn Rovers
- 12.97 %
|FA Cup (FA)||16 Feb 2013||Arsenal FC 0 - Blackburn Rovers 1|
|Premier League (EPL)||4 Feb 2012||Arsenal FC 7 - Blackburn Rovers 1|
|Premier League (EPL)||17 Sep 2011||Blackburn Rovers 4 - Arsenal FC 3|
|Premier League (EPL)||2 Apr 2011||Arsenal FC 0 - Blackburn Rovers 0|
|Premier League (EPL)||28 Aug 2010||Blackburn Rovers 1 - Arsenal FC 2|
|19 May 2013||Newcastle United 0 - Arsenal FC 1||EPL|
|14 May 2013||Arsenal FC 4 - Wigan Athletic 1||EPL|
|4 May 2013||QPR 0 - Arsenal FC 1||EPL|
|28 Apr 2013||Arsenal FC 1 - Manchester United 1||EPL|
|20 Apr 2013||Fulham 0 - Arsenal FC 1||EPL|
|Returns:||Arsenal £12.50||Sign up today with BetVictor and get a £25 FREE BET!|
|Returns:||Draw £60.00||Sign up today with BetVictor and get a £25 FREE BET!|
|Returns:||Blackburn £110.00||Sign up today with BetVictor and get a £25 FREE BET!|
The divisive figure comes into this game off the back of an impressive Africa Cup of Nations where, in spite of a fairly abject showing from his country, he scored two goals and was generally the bright spark in a poor Ivory Coast side. He must feel as though he has a point to prove, given his generally disappointing performances in the Premier League this season, and this FA Cup tie is the perfect platform on which he can capitalise on his recent international form.
The veteran midfielder surprised many last summer with his unexpected move to the troubled Championship side; he only missed five games in last season's Premier League campaign with Fulham, where he was also captain. As one would expect from a player with such class (and in spite of his age), he has shone in what has been an extremely mixed campaign for the Rovers, and will surely relish a chance to shine against Premier League opposition once more.
There is most definitely potential for an FA Cup upset here as, with the Gunners seemingly intent on resting key players, the away side must fancy their chances to prove that they can still compete against the top clubs. However, though improved of late, Blackburn's form has been sketchy this season and Arsenal should have enough quality to ensure that they come out of this clash on top, though it could be a close one.
Times In GMT
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed