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I’m off to Blackburn, so here’s the preview before I go

By Phil Gregory

I’ve always liked Blackburn away, mainly because I can get tickets. That aside, being a Northern-based Gooner I’ve a few of friends who are Blackburn fans, so I suppose there’s more riding on this game for me than just the three points being contested.

A few years ago, when some members of our first eleven were still hatching we struggled in these type of games, the tricky away days up north. In recent times however they’ve largely yielded three points, testament to the effectiveness of our style of play versus the “plonk a big lad in front of their goalkeeper and try and score from a corner” approach.

Anyway, having now moved back to Uni, Blackburn is only a short hop away on the train so I’m making my way over for this one. Thankfully I’m not expected to write any sort of match review or the like for this game: as it falls on the day that I become one year older, post-match pints will be had and I don’t like blogging with a sore head.

On the injury front, the numbers are on the way down. Aaron Ramsey will possibly be available, but if passed fit we’ll probably see him on the bench. Vermaelen is progressing well and is expected back after the next international break, which would mean he would miss Spurs away but be back for Sunderland on the 16th October. There were no updates given on Squillaci, Diaby and Rosicky, so all three can safely be counted out of the reckoning for this tie.

Szcznesy

Sagna Koscielny Mertesacker Gibbs

Song Arteta

Benayoun

Walcott Van Persie Gervinho

I’m not quite as barmy as Billy, so the only really talking point from the above line-up is the midfield. While it’s too early to say for sure, Arteta seems to be operating in a Xabi Alonso type of role, playmaking from deep in the sort of territory Jack Wilshere used to occupy last season. It’s an interesting approach, allowing us to play the ball out from the back easier while leaving a forward playmaker free to move off the ball and seek out space. Whether it is a deliberate tactical ploy to get more out of Arteta or if Wenger is just short of someone to play that deep role in the absence of Jack and Diaby I’m not sure, but it’s certainly an interesting option to have.

Using the Dortmund game as my basis to predict from then, it seems likely that Gervinho and Benayoun will remain in the side, with Walcott on the right and Van Persie through the middle. Gervinho has looked like an exciting player when I’ve seen him, and he could’ve got us a priceless second goal if he hadn’t stumbled at an inopportune moment in Germany. Hopefully he’s learned to be a little more restrained in his confrontations and will avoid foolish red cards in future.

As for predictions, I’m fairly but not overly confident for this game. Blackburn are struggling so far, and the dodginess around their ownership/management structure is fairly well documented. From what I can recall from various articles from the excellent David Conn of the Guardian, Venkys took over, got an agent called Anderson in to “advise” and he promptly got a client of his with no management experience a Premier League job and his son was signed during the January window from a lowly SPL side for “his potential”. Clearly, this makes a mockery of the Premier League’s ownership “test” and will probably get Blackburn relegated. Frankly, Steve Kean is probably going to end up in the “Avram Grant” school of football managers – given a huge opportunity when the CV didn’t really deserve it by plonker owners. And of course, it’s the fans are the ones who lose out.

As you can probably guess, I’m fairly sympathetic to the plight of Blackburn fans, and I hope they can get the manager the boot and somebody competent in to steady the ship. That said, that would effectively bail out the owners of their mistake, and don’t they deserve to get their fingers burnt? Perhaps, but not at the expense of the fans for my money. Anyway, best of luck to those Blackburn fans protesting tomorrow, but as for the three points? They’re ours. 2-1 to the Arsenal.

17 comments to I’m off to Blackburn, so here’s the preview before I go

  • suhel

    i live in blackbrn n wanted to go watch the game but cudnt find a ticket for away stand, gud luck to you !!

  • pranaam

    i think arshavin should start..to provide some creative spark…but i don’t know who to drop…maybe theo as blckburn may sit back deep and his pace may not be very effective…btw happy birthday!!

  • Gord

    Seeing as you mentioned that you didn’t want to write a game report because you might have too many beers at the game (Happy Birthday, by the way), perhaps a catering report would be in order? If nothing else, it will annoy the people who read everything, but don’t like catering reports. Feel free to have something to eat (and report on), you don’t have to just drink beer on our behalf. 🙂

    Looking at the side of the page, there is a category for humour. If you hear any good Arsenal (or Blackburn) jokes while there, maybe you could start a “humour report”. No doubt, the people that hate the catering report will hate that too. 🙂

    I hope you enjoy the game, and also have a nice birthday.

  • Gord

    Do people like to learn geography in reading about football?

    The United Kingdom overlaps considerably with Canada (where I live) in terms of latitude. Totally different in terms of climate.

    I pick up on “northern”, since I am in northern Alberta, Canada. As near as I can tell, Blackburn is at 53.75N latitude (midway between St.Albert and Morinville in Alberta), and I live at 55.17N latitude (Grande Prairie, Alberta). I gather Northumberland is a little further north than Lancashire, but Blackburn is probably about the furthest north Arsenal would travel to in a season. It seems Northumberland is about as far north as Grande Prairie is (a city at the south end of the Peace Region, the northernmost part of the Peace Region is about 58.5N, which is about as far north as the coast of the Highlands in Scotland). With a degree of latitude being 60 miles, I am guessing Blackburn is 165 miles north of London (51.5N, about the same as Carstairs, Alberta). I’ve no idea what it is via highway.

  • @Gord – Newcastle a fair step further north than Blackburn – Newcastle/Sunderland/Middlesbrough could all be classed in the ‘shit team from Scotland’ category when it comes to match day chants.

  • Gord

    @DogFace

    Okay, Newcastle is nominally 75 miles north of Blackburn. The way the land and highways work in Alberta, the trip from Edmonton (53.5N) to Grande Prairie is 4.5 hours, and few people think it is long. Building roads around habitation makes things longer, and there are few people in Alberta. So, most roads tend to be straight (or sets of straight lines).

    In wikipedia for Canadian habitations, one often sees a “map” at the bottom of the page to allow people to navigate N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW of some place. Nothing like this seems to happen in the UK on Wikipedia.

    So both Blackburn and Newcastle are “significant” trips north. Interesting.

    I still hope you enjoy the game tomorrow.

  • Vinay

    Happy Birthday mate, hope a win will be the perfect gift for the day. It will be tough but i do hope this would be the game of 3 points and consolidation than any other bravado.Do think it is the time to have theo on the bench and make him an impact sub and for once start with Park or even Oxlade, an unknown entity may throw blackburn of gear.

  • Dark Prince

    I’m sure Arshavin will start ahead of Walcott…a parked bus neutralises Walcott’s pace, but Arshavin’s direct one on one attacks can be useful….

  • Sammy The Snake

    I’m glad to see us get rid of some of these tough northern trip early in the season. We wouldn’t want to play Blackburn on a cold January night, would we?!
    Happy birthday! I hope you celebrate with a win…

  • Cheers gents, very kind.

    Suhel – the tickets were available on general sale – you should have been able to get them with ease! Have a look at getting a red membership if you don’t mind travelling – mine could’ve got me tickets for every league game so far bar United. It’s about being organised – being ready to purchase the moment they switch to “available on red memberships”.

    If you watch Arsenal TV like me then you’re quids in too.

  • suhel – you have not lived until you have been to an Arsenal away game and sat on your hands with the home supporters.

    Years ago I remember doing it at Nottingham Forest, and although I remained quiet throughout the 1-1 draw I failed to stand and scream when Forest scored. A guy behind me immediately sussed and was shouting and screaming at me all the way through the rest of the match.

    At the end he leaned over, shook my hand and said, “No hard feelings mate” and walked away.

  • Phil – your prediction of the team is almost certainly right, but Billy’s was more fun.

  • goonergerry

    Hmmm. not a good performance. Looks like another debacle. This is beginning to look like the end of an era.

  • jayj

    This is bad, Wenger has fucked us up, signing a 15mil worth cant play. The bottom team has rolled us over, the bottom team!

  • jayj

    WE are crap, Steve Kean is a better manager than Wenger, Wenger must go. We are so fucking weak, Blackburn are higher than us. Arsenal so fucking shit, Laurent Koscielny must of signed for Blackburn. Fuck Wenger off now before we go down. Start a protest if you love Arsenal get Wenger out.

    WENGER OUT!!!!!

  • jayj

    Wenger – New phase for Gunners

    He wasnt lying.

  • Arsenal have been heading in this direction …

    Spurs fan without a proper email address please go away and watch the Europa League Phil