The Gunners have games coming up every three days for the the next week and a half therefore expect rotation to the squad for forthcoming matches and indeed for this match.
Arsenal (from): Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Eboue, Fabregas, Ramsey, Denilson, Adebayor, Van Persie, Fabianski, Walcott, Nasri, Djourou, Song, Bendtner, Randall, Wilshere, Bendtner, Gibbs.
Sagna – Toure – Gallas(c) – Clichy
Eboue – Fabregas – Denilson – Nasri
Van Persie – Adebayor
Subs: Fabianski, Djourou, Song, Ramsey, Gibbs, Walcott, Bendtner
Blackburn will be without trio Andre Ooijer (hamstring), Vince Grella (calf) and David Dunn (Achilles). On loan United man, Simpson may get a start at right back while Mokoena will deputise in central midfield.
Blackburn predicted (4-4-2): Robinson – Simpson, Samba, Nelsen, Warnock – Emerton, Reid, Mokoena, Pedersen – Santa Cruz, Roberts.
Subs from: Brown, Khizanishvili, Treacy, Tugay, Villanueva, Andrews McCarthy, Fowler, Derbyshire
Both teams have players back from international duty and for Blackburn Santa Cruz, Emerton and Nelsen have come back from long trips. Expect Rovers to pressure Arsenal for the full length of the pitch, not allowing the Gunners any room. Also hard tackles will be aplenty and look to catch Arsenal on the break as Paul Ince has indicated following Fulham’s model three weeks ago.
Arsenal’s movement could be key as Mokoena seems vulnerable in the middle in catching up with the speed. Blackburn have let in 7 goals from 3 games all from high crosses and the counter-attack which the Gunners may look to exploit especially with full backs Sagna and Clichy.
Weak Link: Paul Robinson- The England stopper is not the same player two years ago as he is still seemingly playing on low confidence. Technical problems have dogged him recently and Arsenal can take advantage of his uncertainty.
Key Battles: Jason Roberts and Cruz v Kolo Toure and Wlliam Gallas- Santa Cruz’s height and presence is the obvious danger but the underrated Roberts could prove more deadly. He has given Sol Campbell the run around in recent years with his power therefore Gallas and Toure will need to be at their best on the ground as well as in the air.
Reid and Mokoena v Fabregas and Denilson- The question will be if Reid and in particular, Mokoena can cope with the intelligence and movement of the Gunners midfield. It will also be interesting to see how Denilson fares against the tough tacklers in midfield as well as the strength up front. He failed against Fulham though partnering Eboue but this will be a sterner test.
Verdict: Arsenal 2-1 Blackburn: It will be physical and Blackburn away is not easy but Rovers have looked vulnerable in defence and it could prove their undoing.