Blackburn v Arsenal Match Preview
Arsenal go to Ewood Park on Sunday night to play their second game of the Premier League season against Blackburn Rovers. After their last-gasp win over Fulham last weekend and a controlled 2-0 Champions League qualification victory away to Sparta Prague in the Czech Republic, Arsenal will want to keep their positive start to the season going against an underrated Blackburn side. Manager Arsene Wenger was asked earlier this week whether he thought his side could win the Premiership and whilst he agreed it was possible Wenger was keen to keep things in perspective.
“We have only played one game in the League. We will learn more in 20 games. We will have to play Chelsea and Liverpool as well at some stage. At the moment all we want to do is have a good run and get good momentum.”
The game against Blackburn will be followed by tough matches against Manchester City, Portsmouth and Tottenham before slightly easier games (on paper, at least) against Derby, West Ham and Sunderland. There will surely be some points dropped over that time but when you consider that Arsenal’s first nine fixtures are Liverpool-, Manchester United- and Chelsea-free, there is a real opportunity for the boys to have a good run and get some momentum going.
Injuries mean Bendtner should start
Arsenal’s biggest challenge on Sunday will be dealing with the loss of a couple of key players and the physical nature of a Blackburn side managed by former Manchester United player Mark Hughes. A knee injury to Tomas Rosicky should see Alexander Hleb pushed to the left side of midfield and Emmanuel Eboue’s ankle problem will mean Theo Walcott should get his first start of the season on the right. I have been of the strong opinion that Arsenal still desperately need to bring another winger for extra cover and this weekend’s mini injury crisis illustrates that point perfectly. Indeed, the fact that Hleb will surely be pushed wide despite his exhilarating start to the season playing centrally is incredibly frustrating and will mean either Eduardo da Silva or Nicklas Bendter will be asked to play as support for Robin van Persie.
With Eduardo still not 100% I would absolutely love to see Bendtner start against Blackburn. He looked great in pre-season and made a big difference to the team after coming on against Fulham, providing strength and aerial ability that Wenger’s side often lacked. Blackburn are known to play a very tough brand of football but there’s no question that the big Dane and his massive frame would be able to look after himself. I think if Wenger fails to put him in the starting team then Arsenal will struggle in attack against Blackburn.
Defence needs to stand firm
The key to Arsenal winning this match will be their defence. Despite all the injuries in midfield and attack I have to say it’s been a nice feeling to see the first-choice defence unchanged in three matches and I’m sure Jens Lehmann, Bacary Sagna, William Gallas, Kolo Toure and Gael Clichy will start again against Blackburn. This is the type of game that could be won by a good defensive performance and I will be expecting the likes of Gallas and Toure to step up and really help out the smaller pair of Mathieu Flamini and Cesc Fabregas in central midfield. Apart from Lehmann’s ridiculous bungle early on against Fulham the defence hasn’t conceded in two games and a third shut-out would see us win the match.
With the Manchester United coming up against their rejuvenated city rivals without Cristiano Ronaldo or Wayne Rooney and Liverpool hosting Chelsea (check out a great preview of that match on Blue Champions) there is sure to be some points dropped by Arsenal’s major title rivals this weekend. If Arsenal can keep up the positive start then there will be all to play for in the coming weeks. I have some real doubts about this game and I think the decision of whether or not to start Bendtner could be crucial. With that in mind I’m tipping a 2-0 win if he starts and a 1-1 draw if he doesn’t. Either way, they’ll be a match report to follow tomorrow.
What do you think?
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