The Emirates Stadium, North London
April 2, 2011, 11:00 PM IST
After the two weeks of International football, Arsenal are more relieved than worried contrary to popular norm of the ‘Scare of International Football’. The long break has brought key players back from injury, while the others who had to be part of that disappointing run in March, have left that part of the season behind and are looking forward to an important one. Arsenal starts the first of their nine games left to clinch the Championship, against Blackburn. They are five points behind league leaders with a game in hand and also en encounter left at The Emirates between old foes.
Arsenal haven’t won in their last three league games, so they need to take the game to Blackburn right from the blow of the whistle. They have a critical encounter with United on the 1st of May, before that, Arsenal need to stay on the hunt with their closest rival. This team has come out of slump many times in the past, and is thereby capable of doing it yet again, this time with some class perhaps.
Team News and Tactical Brief
The team news looks quite healthy for Arsenal with the return of Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott, Alex Song and Abou Diaby from injuries. The team needs a fresh start after a horrendous month of losing in three competitions. The return of key players is exactly the ingredient Arsene was looking forward to and now that he has them back, there is no room for any complacency and excuses. Robin van Persie and Nicolas Bendtner gave the manager some scare during the International break but even they are believed to be fit for the match. After captaining their respective national sides, Samir Nasri and Andrei Arshavin will take up ‘creative’ responsibilities alongside Cesc Fabregas. Theo will probably come as an impact sub, unleashed on the tired legs of Blackburn during the last half an hour of the game.
In the absence of key marksman Djourou, the two French Center Backs Koscielny and Squillaci will have to form some sort of understanding between them in these last few games of the season. Their combination is absolutely crucial to Arsenal’s attempt for the big prize this season. Sagna and Clichy will continue with Full Back responsibilities, the former having played for France in the break while the latter left cribbing about Evra’s inclusion in the side. Alex Song and Jack Wilshere will resume the fearsome combination they have had created so far this season, each aware of the other’s responsibility in the middle of the park. The young Englishman needs to throw all the distractions out of the window and concentrate on this title chase.
Probable Starting XI – Szczsney, Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci, Clichy, Song, Wilshere, Cesc, Nasri, Arshavin, Robin van Persie
The away side haven’t had much success away to Arsenal in the league for some years now. They are also having a touch time at the back, conceding 11 goals in their last 3 away games. To make matters even worse, Blackburn haven’t kept a clean sheet on the road this season, there is some thing that makes this unit a frail side away from the relative comforts of Ewood Park. The gigantic Samba and Ryan Nelson are key components to the rest of their campaign. They need to stand tall and defend sharp for the rest of the season, for starters, against the might of Arsenal.
Under new manager Steve Kean, Blackburn will start their attempt at surviving this season as their new owners have promised to buy costly talent over the summer window. Hoilett and Santa Cruz are given the attacking responsibilities with the allround game of Pederson crucial to their success in scoring goals. The Paraguayan has not been able to replicate the form he showed in his previous stint with the club but is clinical with the aerial ball, something the Arsenal Defense needs to be wary of.
Probable Starting XI – Robinson, Salgado, Samba, Nelson, Olsson, Emerton, Nzonzi, J Jones, Pederson, Hoilett, Santa Cruz
- Blackburn have conceded 24 goals in their last 6 visits to The Emirates at an average of 4-a-game.
- Robin van Persie has scored 10 goals in 10 starts against Blackburn.
- Blackburn has conceded 38 goals on the road this season.
- Arsenal have won one of their last six games in all competition.
- Arsenal are unbeaten in their last nine home games against the side from Ewood Park.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Andrei Arshavin (Arsenal)
The Russian has come under much criticism of late both from the national side and the Gooners around the world. As far as Arsenal are concerned, he has shown considerable amount of rise in form in the last few games for the club. He has even got his place back in the side by some inspiring display of football. The moody Russian is in contention for another good game for Arsenal to take the home side to victory.
Arsenal 3 – 1 Blackburn
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST