Match day today. A trip is Ewood Park it is. Coming on the back of a recent mini-revival, it is absolutely vital that we continue our progression and improvement. Pat Rice will have to continue his unbeaten run at the helm another day as Arsene Wenger returns to the bench.
In recent seasons, we have found this fixture to be rather difficult. Last season was an exception as we won here in the 2nd league match of 2010/11 season. The difficulties are as much about our struggles against the height and aerial abilities of Blackburn as our inability to cope with the physical tactics that the home side generally employs.
Now, I’ve not watch much of Steve Kean’s side to know whether he still retains the same tactics. Although in fairness, any team would resort to their tried and tested formula if all else fails. There’s pace and trickery afoot in the form of Hoilett and we’ll have to be wary of that.
Then there’s the question over the home side’s defence. In particular, their centrebacks. And in more specificially, Christopher Samba and Scott Dann. Both of which were linked to a move to the Grove this recently concluded transfer window.
As with any normal human behaviour, they are bound to be slightly peeved about Arsenal’s actions or the lack of it. I don’t know whether we were actually in for them or did something broke down in the middle of the negotiations. We can be sure that they’ll perform their utmost to show what we’ve missed out.
Wenger will be pleased with the options he has today. As the game after this will be against Shrewsbury, there should be no thoughts of resting players today. Most if not all who plays today will likely be given the day off in the Carling Cup. Apart from the usual suspects, Wenger has a clean bill of health of his squad.
That would probably be the starting line-up for today. The only change from Tuesday would be the inclusion of Andrey Arshavin in place of Yossi Benayoun. While the Israeli did not perform too badly at Dortmund, there must be a reason for Wenger to rest the Russian in an important Champions League tie.
Having that line-up would make us slightly more vulnerable defensively as Arshavin is not renowned for his tackling/chasing back. However, I do hope that instead of instructing Mikel Arteta to stay deep, Wenger would give instructions to the Russian captain that he will need to do his share of defending. That said, Blackburn are not stronger than Borussia Dortmund in the attacking sense. If a trio of Arteta-Song-Benayoun could hold out the reigning Bundelisga champions, there’s no reason why a trio inclusive of Arshavin can’t do the same at Blackburn.
At this point, I would admit that I’d much rather see Emmanuel Frimpong play today than the line-up mentioned above. I fear that if we do go a goal down, then we might have difficulty coming back into the game. A lot of responsibility will fall on the shoulders of Wojciech Szczesny and Per Mertesacker. We suffered previously and having these two in the side will show whether we have improved/progressed in that regard. It always helps when the keeper is commanding in his penalty box and come out to get the ball to relief pressure off his defenders.
If we stayed defensively strong, then there’s the chance we can hit them with one of the chances that we’re bound to create today. Robin Van Persie is in amazing form. Well, in away games he has. Stretching back from January 2011, the current captain of Arsenal has scored in consecutive away league games. The record could’ve continued has he found the back of the net at St James Park but has since rediscovered his scoring touch by scoring at Old Trafford and Signal Iduna Park.
Here’s to another 3 points. Would be nice to get back into the top half of the table. Come on you Arsenal!!!