GUNNERS FACE A TOUGH TASK AT FORTRESS EWOOD!
Tonight’s Premier League clash between Arsenal and Blackburn at Ewood Park will be Arsene Wenger’s final game of the season on the road and Sam Allardyce’s men will prove stoic opposition at home, in a game which will more likely matter more to the fans, than have any relevance in the Premier league picture.
Arsene Wenger has often taken a dislike towards the tactics employed by Sam Allardyce’s teams in the past, often accusing Big Sam’s men of trying to kick the Gunners out of their usual free flowing game. This is an assertion that Sam Allardyce has refuted many a time, often stating that Wenger’s intolerance of the physical aspects of the English game is more to do with Wenger’s own football beliefs and, perhaps, a lack of ability on behalf of his players to deal with it, rather than any great effort by his teams to kick the Gunners into submission.
All of which makes tonight’s clash at Ewood Park a rather tasty looking end of season encounter that is sure to be a spicy affair.
ARSENAL TEAM NEWS
Arsenal will be without Denilson, Manuel Almunia, Andrey Arshavin, William Gallas, Cesc Fabregas, Aaron Ramsey and Thomas Vermaelen for the trip. Although the club will welcome the news that long term injury victims Johan Djourou and Kieran Gibbs are both back in training though it is doubtful whether Wenger would risk either player in what looks like being a bruising end of season encounter.
It will be interesting to see whether Wenger opts to include Robin Van Persie for the game. The Dutchman is back to fitness after his long term injury this season, but whether Wenger would risk him in what is, in effect, a meaningless game for the club, especially against a very physical defence that includes the likes of Ryan Nelsen and Christopher Samba, is open to conjecture. Certainly Nicklas Bendtner looks likely to start to add some physical presence in the attack.
Meanwhile at Blackburn, Sam Allardyce has called upon his Blackburn team to continue their excellent home form this season and send the Rovers faithful home in a positive frame of mind;
“It would be really nice to send the fans home with something to celebrate, because obviously we all suffered the disappointment in the last minute after a tremendous fight-back against Everton, which is something I am still pretty sick about.
“You always want to finish on a high at home when you are playing your last game of the season. You want to give a thank you to the fans and the best way to do that is finish with a win.”
Brett Emerton and Chris Samba are both back in contention after injury for the game with Arsenal, which is being shown live on ESPN at 5pm, though Allardyce was keeping tightlipped as to whether either would feature in a game that he felt would require a “huge amount of energy” from his team, trying to stop Arsenal’s passing game.
So who will win? Will Rovers take the spoils? Their home form is particularly impressive, though they have not yet beaten a big four side at Ewood Park this season. Arsenal, with little to play for, may be forgiven for taking it easy, but given the nature of the game and the opposition he faces, one would assume Arsene Wenger will have his players ready and willing to win this one.
For me, I think the outcome will be a hard fought, bruising and entertaining 2-2 draw.
Best odds on draw when publishing the article is Betfair
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