TEAM NEWS: Robin van Persie starts for Arsenal against Blackburn Rovers as Cesc Fabregas makes the bench

Dutchman makes starting XI just four days after injury scare on international duty, while visitors field a lone striker in Roque Santa Cruz for evening kick-off at the Emirates
Arsenal welcome captain Cesc Fabregas back into their options for a must-win match against Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League this evening.

The skipper had missed recent games with a hamstring injury but was declared fit enough for a spot on the bench.

Robin van Persie was also on the team sheet, the Dutch striker making the starting line-up despite an injury scare while playing for the Netherlands on Tuesday evening.

Visitors Blackburn fielded Roque Santa Cruz as a lone striker in their XI, with Phil Jones expected to take a place in midfield in his first start since mid-December.

Arsenal entered the match desperate for a victory that would close the eight-point gap on leaders Manchester United, who defeated West Ham 4-2 at Upton Park earlier in the day.

Almunia; Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy; Song, Wilshere, Nasri; Walcott, Van Persie, Arshavin.
Subs: Lehmann, Diaby, Fabregas, Rosicky, Eboue, Chamakh, Bendtner.

Blackburn: Robinson; Salgado, Samba, Nelsen, Olsson; Emerton, J Jones, P Jones, N'Zonzi, Hoilett; Santa Cruz.
Subs: Bunn, Rochina, Dunn, Benjani, Roberts, Hanley, Diouf.