Date: 13th January 2007 at 12:32pm
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Blackburn Rovers have an excellent opportunity to avenge the 6-2 mauling dished out by Arsenal before Christmas this Saturday.

Saturday`s clash at Ewood Park sees two of the league`s form sides come face to face. Both teams enjoyed an excellent festive period and approach the game on the back of solid winning streaks culminating in the demise of the Merseyside last weekend. Arsenal put paid to Liverpool`s hopes of lifting the F A Cup again and Rovers destroyed any possibility of the blue half of the Mersey lifting the prestigious cup for the first time since 1995.

Additionally both managers will have considerable selection headaches to contend with. With goals in abundance from both sides, managers, Mark Hughes and Arsene Wenger, must choose their suitable attacking partnerships.

Since the 6-2 defeat at the hands of Arsenal, Rovers have gone from strength to strength, winning the ensuing four matches scoring an extra goal scored each time.

Will Rovers continue that trend on Saturday by putting five past Arsenal.

Vital Quotes:

Mark Hughes on a selection headache:We have a lot of players to pick from- all of them playing well. It`s the sort of situation you relish.”

Blackburn boss Mark Hughes:Arsenal are in fantastic form and they are a fantastic side whoever they pick. But we had a great result against them last season (they won 1-0) and I think they have a healthy respect for us.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on their 6-2 win over Blackburn earlier in the season:
We were flattered by that score. They have improved alot since then. This will be more difficult for us. I have five strikers available and I can only play two, or maybe only one.

Matt le Tissier on the fixture:We all know Arsenal are far less comfortable against sides that put them under pressure by getting the ball forward early and using set-pieces cleverly. That might not be Blackburn`s natural game, but if they can tweak it a little bit, I can see them having some success.

“Benni McCarthy looks really sharp, Shabani Nonda is finding his feet and they are also getting goals from elsewhere with the likes of Matt Derbyshire, Paul Gallagher and David Bentley chipping in recently.

Blackburn Rovers Team News:

Lucas Neill will return from suspension to captain the side once more but David Bentley misses the game against his former employers having accumulated five yellow cards this season.

Benni McCarthy and Shabani Nonda appear to have shaken off minor knocks and are ready to lead the attack. Robbie Savage and Brett Emerton are also likely to be restored to the starting eleven.

Ryan Nelsen, Steven Reid and Jason Roberts are nearing full training and could be back in action before the end of the month.

Rovers from: Friedel, Brown, Neill, Todd, Ooijer, Gray, Emerton, Savage, Tugay, Pedersen, Nonda, McCarthy, Brown, Derbyshire, Mokoena, Henchoz, Peter, Khizanishvili.

Player to watch: Benni McCarthy

The goal machine will be eager to add another goal to his already impressive season`s tally. Benni has been vocal in the press this week about how much he is looking forward to facing Arsenal after missing the game at the Emirates.

He is on top of his game at the moment and if Rovers can provide him with chances, you would back him to find the target at least once.

Arsenal Team News:

Arsene Wenger has a selection headache for this fixture as he has all four of his main strikers fully fit and in form for the first time this season. Thierry Henry has to start and so Wenger must choose between four goal mid-week hero Julio Baptista, top goal-scorer, Robin van Persie and in form Emmanuel Adebayor.

William Gallas is still missing for the Gunners and is likely to be out for the next 2-3 weeks.

Arsenal from: Lehmann, Hoyte, Toure, Senderos, Clichy, Hleb, Fabregas, Gilberto, Rosicky, van Persie, Henry, Almunia, Djourou, Adebayor, Baptista, Walcott, Aliadiere, Flamini.

Player to watch: Baptista or van Persie

Depending on who starts the key men could be either Robin van Persie or Julio Baptista. Van Persie just loves scoring against Rovers having netted six in the last four meetings between the sides.

Alternatively Baptista exploded into English football in mid-week in devastating circumstances for Liverpool. The Brazilian, on a season long loan from Real Madrid, smashed four past Liverpool and will feel that he is worthy of a starting birth.

Match Facts & Stats

The game matches the club awarded more penalties than any other in Premiership matches this season against the one to have conceded the most. Arsenal have converted seven of eight, Blackburn have given away nine.

Robin van Persie has scored six times in his last four games against Rovers.

If Rovers win then it will be their best winning streak in the Premiership since Souness` management.

Benni McCarthy (13 goals) and Robin van Persie (12 goals) are the club`s respective leading scorers.

Rovers won this corresponding fixture last season courtesy of a Morten Gamst Pedersen strike.

Rovers have only won two out of the last nine meetings between the clubs.

Ref Watch:

Chris will officiate a Rovers game for the second time this season. He last oversaw Rovers in London when they went down to a late Charlton goal. He has produced 31 yellow cards and a single red in 13 games.

Match Prediction:

Two of the league`s form teams come face to face, with confidence high and goals flowing from all over the park. So will this be a repeat of the eight goal thriller at the Emirates? In a word, no.

It will be a much tighter affair and could be decided by a single goal. Hughes will have learnt his lesson that you can`t beat Arsenal at their own game, something he will be keen to try again but it is more likely he choose a more direct approach.

If Rovers can open the scoring then they can make things very difficult for Arsenal. Rovers can play a more direct game and this approach is renowned for unsettling Arsenal.

I fancy Rovers to exact revenge for the demolition at the Emirates with a closely fought 1-0 win.

Next Fixtures:

Another of the league`s form sides, Man City away are next in line for Rovers on 20th January 2007 at 17:15.


9 Replies to “Rovers .v. Arsenal”

  • I’m sure this will be a good game, I do fancy Rovers to edge it by the odd goal, 2-1. With goals being the order recently maybe 3-2 Rovers?

  • I fancy arsenal to win 2-1. I think Bentley will be a massive miss for your boys as without him at the Emirates it could have been even worse for you lot. All the good stuff went through him & he has certainly found his feet at Blackburn now. Its going to be a tuff match but if arsenal cannot win then its yet another false dawn for us lot. I think regardless of the result today your boys will continue to win a lot more games & I would more than a little surprised if you finished outside the top 6!!

  • Savage is a ****, and your crowd is pathetic, Tugay raked his studs from kneecap to ankle on Cesc, it could have been a serious injury, and the lad was clearly in pain, but all your crowd did was boo him, losers. but i guess our class was too good in the end. and anyways, it’s not the first time you lost to ten men Arsenal at home, it happened in 2002, and now it happened again..

  • Fabregas was soon running around again though wasn’t he. I think you’ll find Gilberto Silva was the man kicking out so as soft a sending off as it was he only has himself to blame. You were the better team but again had we taken the clear cut chances we had we wouldn’t have lost.

  • Hughes Da Man, regardless of whether the sending off was correct or not the fact is savage should have gone. Since when has kicking someones thigh & smashing them in the head/neck been acceptable?? With regards your comments on the arsenal vital site about savage trying to convince the ref it wasn’t a sending off I think maybe you should take the blinkers off & look again. When that t****r was talking to the ref about its not a sending off offence he was talking about himself as he hadn’t had his punishment at that point. How can anyone say Blackburn want to lose the thug tag they have when your manager sends out a team to “do” players?? Its never going to happen. Blackburn should have ended that match with 7 players. Savage, Neill, Tugay & Emerton should all have gone. Neill did stop a goalscoring opportunity as rvp is clearly quicker than any of your defenders & at best they were level with him not infront so they couldn’t have covered. I enjoy watching Blackburn when they attack teams & play football (as I have said in previous comments) but yesterday they came out with one intent & that was to injure people. Re cesc’s injury, yes he did come back on the field & was taken off again & if you saw the after match interview then maybe you would have seen exactly what tugay did to his foot. He may now be out the man utd game, I wonder if that was always Hughes intention……To do his old club a favour!!

  • So you’re trying to tell me that Savage didn’t tell the ref it shouldn’t have been a red, maybe it is you that should take the blinkers off! He ******** believe it was a red. I have no doubt that he was worried he could also go but the fact that he didn’t isn’t his, ours or Rovers fault the blame has to lie with Rob Styles, he didn’t sent him off so its his fault no one elses. As I’ve said I DON’T condone any of the challenges, these type of things only set us back but again the blame has to lie with Styles and his assistants for not acting. HOWEVER I totally disagree there is NO WAY Sparky would send players out with the intent to injure others; for you to even suggest ANYONE Rovers or otherwise would set out with this in mind is unbelievable. I’d be ashamed to support Rovers if this message HAD been given to them. They were no doubt told to be physical and not let Arsenal settle but there is a difference between this and telling people to go out and injure others; this claim is insaulting not only to Rovers but to football!

  • Why do you Arsenal fans feel the need to come on here and have a dig. You outplayed us and deserved your win well done. As for dirty….well I think the only lad on the park who was guilty of gross misconduct got what he deserved. Styles was awful yesterday and that didn’t help the game. Good luck to Arsenal for the remainder of the season. Oh and I’m sure the energetic and spritley Cesc will be fine to face United, well as long as he can make his mind up whether or not he was injured or not!!

  • Physical confrontation is one thing, assaulting a player is quite another. I and many other arsenal fans have said again & again that blackburn can play football, so why is it when you come up against top teams your players put in such cowardly challenges?? Either Hughes condones it or he would stop it happening. The mere fact he came out afterwards & said there was no provocation by savage just sums him up!! The tackle by Tugay was a complete joke & whilst you’re right that Styles has to take some responsibility so does hughes as he is the manager!! We have only just got Diaby back after 8 months out because of a tackle similar to Tugay’s from a sunderland player last season, thats why to all arsenal fans its a very touchy subject. Teams are allowed to get away with the type of stuff your boys done yesterday but if ours try standing up for themselves like Gilberto, then they receive a straight red.

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