Tonight will be Arsene Wenger’s 1st match after wresting the longest serving manager at Arsenal title from George Allison. Ironically, Wenger’s reign at Arsenal started with the visit of Blackburn Rovers to Highbury which was more remembered for the birth of Patrick Vieira the legend. Blackburn are now managed by Sam Allardyce which no doubt means that rough house tactics are the order of the day.
Andrey Arshavin capped this fixture last season with his opening goal for Arsenal with a magnificent shot above Paul Robinson’s head after going past a defender. He has been praised by the Wenger who wants him to drive Arsenal to the title. Also he wants the Russian to win the European player of the year, World player of the year, PFA’s player of the year,….Oscar, Grammy….etc. He wants Arshavin to emulate the feat of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo who won those titles (all except the last 2) while guiding their respective teams to the league and continental glory. I don’t mind the former who is a brilliant brilliant player who is even shorter than Arshavin. As for the latter, I think Arshavin has too much class in him than to go down that road.
In other team news, Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner returns for today’s game. Bendtner miraculously survived without any major injuries after crashing his Aston Martin. If he plays, this will be Walcott’s first game for Arsenal this season. In a way we’ve missed him. As I’ve said before, the current team is playing really well but lacked real pace going forward. Too often, opposition have been allowed to regroup when Arsenal have a chance for a fast counter attack. How he will fare in the new formation will be interesting. Walcott will most likely line up as one of the forward trio and this is where his pace can be used to great effect. This is also probably closer to the real position that Wenger sees Walcott playing in the future.
Without disrespecting Blackburn (ok, I admit I do underestimate them), this is a good oppourtunity for Wenger to rest some players who have played consistently since the start of the season. For one, I would like to see William Gallas rested for this game. If you noticed, in almost every match, Gallas needed the help and treatment of Colin Lewin. His legs are certainly sore and deserve to rest his legs for at least one weekend. With Blackburn’s strikeforce not particularly fearsome, Phillipe Senderos may finally get a chance to show his worth in the Premier League again. Senderos – Vermaelen, now that’s a partnership that I reckoned could work.
I hope the lineup is something like this
This is another vital 3 points that Arsenal must not let go. With Man Utd only managing to draw against Sunderland yesterday and Liverpool to play Chelsea after Arsenal’s game, there a good chance to close the gap to a mere 3 points with a game in hand.
Enjoy the game wherever you’re watching. Here’s to the first of our many wins in October.