Arsenal have the chance to win back their 4th spot with a win against Blackburn Rovers, though it only may be for around 24 hours if Villa defeat Spurs on Sunday.
Blackburn will not be an easy opponent. With Sam Allardyce as their manager and a very physical squad they are bound to make Arsenal work hard for the win. Being physical and parking the proverbial bus is a counter against Arsenal’s free flowing passing game and Blackburn are expected to do just that (the fact that they have been shown more yellow cards (60) than any other this season proves just that). Stoke defeated Arsenal employing this strategy and Blackburn are fully capable of doing the same.
But Blackburn’s track record against Arsenal isn’t encouraging enough for them. Arsenal have not lost to Blackburn since 2002 and Arsenal brushed them aside in the reverse fixture 4-0 with the currently injured Adebayor getting a hat trick. Arsenal have found Blackburn an easy side in recent meetings scoring 9 goals in the last 3 meetings and also got a 6-2 win a couple of seasons back. To add to that they have lost all of their meetings with the big 4 this season and only managed to win three matches against top half opposition. But a draw is a big possibility. Arsenal have managed to draw the most number of games so far this season including 3 straight 0-0’s at the Emirates. But Arsenal are starting to convert those draws into wins lately so to predict the outcome of this match is a very tough task and I will rather not do it this time!
Moving on to team news now, the only change from the team against Roma is that Eduardo is out with a groin injury and cup-tied Andrei Arshavin returns. Who is going to start is another difficult question. One would want van Persie not to start considering his below par performances lately but the Dutchman has an exceptional record against Blackburn, eight goals in seven appearances in all competitions against them. So van Persie should start. Arshavin is also likely to start. I would prefer a start for Gibbs ahead of the vulnerable Clichy. Song should start to counter the phyical game of Blackburn to some extent and he also is fresh enough having not played against Roma. Nasri on the left and Walcott on the right. Diaby or Denilson to complete the central midfield. The back four should be unchanged apart from Gibbs coming in for Clichy.
As for Blackburn, they will be short of quality on the attacking front being without the injured Santa Cruz and most probably Gamst Pedersen also.
Lets hope Arsenal continue the revival of their season. A win will help them overtake Villa and then hopefully Spurs can beat Villa on Sunday so we can keep the 4th place! As much as its hard to believe, for once Gooners will be hoping for a Spurs win! At least we should be!
It is interesting to note that Blackburn, if they lose will drop down to 18th.