Arsenal vs Blackburn: Preview and Starting Eleven

April 2, 2011

The last two weeks have been really boring to say the least and I am really looking forward to the games this weekend. The international break might have been too long for my liking but it did came at the right time for our team and I really hope that it will have given them a much needed breather from the League and time to move on from the disastrous three weeks of football we witnessed before the break.

From now onwards it is as straight forward as it can get. Perform and win each game and therefore lift the trophy come May or else prepare for the worst. And there can be no more excuses regardless of the fact that we have no keeper and no centre backs to rely upon. We have everything in our control and it is up to us to seize the initiative which we have failed to do throughout the season. We have been given countless opportunities and we have failed on all occasions. Thankfully we are still in it and things are still in our hands.  Hopefully we won’t make the same errors because a mistake now will be too costly and unrecoverable from.

We play the first of our last nine games today and it is at home against Blackburn. Before the United game at home we have 5 games to play of which two are at home and three away, including games against Liverpool and Tottenham. If we can go on a winning streak till the Manu game, the momentum will be with us and hopefully we will go on unbeaten (wins) till the end of the season. I don’t want to think about what will happen if we lose or draw even one of these games.

Today’s game won’t be easy at all because Blackburn are only a point from the relegation zone and they will do everything in their power to get points. It will be up to us to step up our game and play the full ninety minutes with passion and intelligence to get the win.  Goals will matter and if we keep the ball and produce some good scoring opportunities, they will come. The defense and midfield will have to do their part and keep Blackburn at bay. As long as we keep it simple, the three points will be ours.

As far as today’s starting lineup is concerned, the whole team picks it up itself as we have many regulars returning from injury. Fabregas, Song and Walcott are back in the squad and it would be foolish to not start with them if they are hundred percent. The thing of concern is the defense and goal keeper. I am desperately hoping that there are no howlers today because as long as we don’t concede we will not lose the match and I believe that upfront we will find the goals with the likes of van Persie, Nasri and Walcott.

Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Almunia is in goal. At the back, Squillaci and Koscielny will start and they will be flanked by Clichy and Sagna for there are no better options than them.

In the middle of the park, with Song and Fabregas returning, they will surely start alongside Wilshere, who has been superb during the internationals.

Upfront too the players pick themselves up. Van Persie has been declared fit to start. Nasri will be there on the left and with Walcott also back, he will be on the right.

Probable Starting lineup: Almunia, Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy, Song, Fabregas, Wilshere, Walcott, RVP, Nasri

Before I end this, I want to add that Manu are playing before us and by the time we start the game, their result will be known to us. As I said before with things being  in our hands, any result for Manu shouldn’t be of any concern to us because we know our job is crystal clear, which is to win every game from now onwards till the end. Manu dropping points will be an added advantage, no doubt, but we cannot rely on their results for long. So hopefully when the game starts today, the team will be focused on their task.  

And as fans, all we can do is get behind the team and give them the lift needed to perform. 

That is all for now. Have a good day and enjoy the match. Today we will find out if we are ready to take the initiative. Fingers crossed!!


Arsene Wenger confirms Manuel Almunia’s start in goal against Blackburn

April 2, 2011

Manuel Almunia will start in goal when Arsenal resumes their Premier League challenge this weekend.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Friday, Arsene Wenger put an end to all speculations as he confirmed that Manuel Almunia will be in goal against Blackburn today. The manager revealed how both the keepers are looking sharp in training and how Lehmann has given good competition to Almunia. Arsene insisted that Lehmann is getting better every day but still needs time to be ready for the Premier league.  

During the International break, Lehmann did feature for the Arsenal Reserves against Wigan.

On who will start in goal, Arsene Wenger on Friday said:

“He [Almunia] will play tomorrow. I can announce that today, he will be in goal. He looks in good shape in training and Jens gives him good competition. The best thing [for Almunia to do] is put in a good performance in the next game.

Jens comes back to being very sharp, he is looking better every day. You do not stop at his age for seven months and you are straight away back but he’s getting better every day. They both look good in training.”


Arsene Wenger: Robin van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner are in the squad while Aaron Ramsey misses out

April 2, 2011

Robin van Persie has been declared fit to be included in the Arsenal squad to face Blackburn.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Arsene Wenger confirmed the good news that Robin van Persie is fit for selection in the squad after he passed his test on Friday. The manager was delighted with the injury not being severe as he added that it is important for all the players to be available in the final part of the season.

Robin van Persie had his knee injured in the game against Hungary on Tuesday and was a doubt for the weekend game.

Other than him, Nicklas Bendtner has also been declared fit whereas Aaron Ramsey didn’t pass his assessment and will miss this match with a groin injury. Meanwhile, the manager also confirmed the selection of Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott, Alex Song and Abou Diaby in the squad as was revealed on Thursday.

On Friday, Arsene Wenger said:

“[Robin van Persie] He’s  alright. He will be in the squad. It was a kick on his knee, but he had a test this morning and felt alright. If he has no reaction overnight he should be OK. I am an optimist so always I hoped it would not be too severe. That was the case – for once we had good news. We all [hold our breath] because it’s the final part of the season and losing a player now is basically losing them for the rest of the season.

We are in the final sprint for the championship so we want all our players available. We have available again Diaby, Fabregas, Song, Walcott. They are all back in the squad. Out is still Denilson and the long-term injuries like Djourou, Fabianski and Vermaelen of course.”