Arsenal v Blackburn; FA Cup 5th Round Match Preview
It is the biggest question floating in the Goonerverse today – win the FA Cup or secure 4th place (or above) and qualify for the Champion’s League next season. And it is directly relevant to this match as the Gunners will look to advance to the next round by vanquishing their Lancashire visitors.
There still are questions floating out there as to whether or not Wenger is taking this cup run with serious intent. The manager moved quickly this week to allay any concerns about this:
“The FA Cup is an important target for us. We always take it very seriously, we’re on a good run and we want to continue the run,” Wenger recently said.
For the most part Wenger is faced with a fully healthy squad with the exception of Gibbs and Jenkinson who will serve his one game suspension from the last match. I think the expectation is that there will be a few new faces in the lineup but there should be regular XI as well featuring, especially in defense. It’s likely this match will also Gervinho make his return to the squad after taking some time off after returning from the Africa Cup of Nations.
Arsenal have yet to lose to get knocked out of the FA Cup by lower level competition since 1996. however, this Blackburn squad are still chock full of players who have Premier League experience and are fighting hard to get back to the top of the rung. While they hadn’t been performing with any consistency, they seem to have found some footing under new manager Michael Appleton (their fifth this season.)
The Gunners can expect to have an opponent that will sit back and look to hit them on the counter. Which means patience will be the order of the day. However, with patience also comes – playing smart. Oneof my biggest criticisms of this team has been that when they face an opponent who sits deep they lack creativity and movement going forward. Oppponents are more than happy to let Arsenal have the ball deep and pass it around the box. The fact is Arsenal haven’t been good at penetrating teams that manage to sit back on them.
Smart play means short passes and movement off the box. Being more direct. That’s what Arsenal will need to do and they will need to penetrate to get their chances.
It’s hard to see anything but an Arsenal win here but let’s remember we said the same thing about Bradford City.
FA Cup Match Facts Courtesy of BBC
- Arsenal are the second most successful club in FA Cup history, but they have not won a major trophy since this competition eight years ago.
- The Gunners have never been knocked out of the FA Cup by a lower league club in the Arsene Wenger era, and have ended the interest of 28 such clubs since losing to Sheffield United in 1996.
- The North London club have progressed beyond the fifth round in only two of the seven seasons since last lifting the silverware.
- Arsenal beat Blackburn 3-0 in the semi-finals of the FA Cup in April 2005 and went on to win the competition for the 10th and most recent time.
- Blackburn beat the Gunners 1-0 in the 1928 semi-finals and went on to lift the silverware for the sixth and most recent occasion.
- This is the eighth time they have drawn each other in the competition: Arsenal lead 4-3.
- The clubs last met in the Premier League in February last year, when Arsenal humiliated their Lancashire opponents 7-1 at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal: Gibbs (thigh), Jenksinson (suspended -1)
Blackburn: Dunn (calf), G Hanley (hamstring), King (hamstring), Best (knee), Etuhu (knee)
Mike Dean (27 Matches Y99, R4)
US: Fox Soccer Channel 10:00 AM EST
UK: BBC Radio 5 Live 15.00 GMT