With Spurs doing us an unexpected favour, although managing to mess up as expected, and Man City managing to pull off an equally unlikely favour, we find ourselves with the chance to top the league by five points after a very nice weekend of results. We’ve won seven of our last nine league games, helped by Adebayor’s brilliant current form, and we need to keep it going. This is the first time in a while where the pressure has been on us to open up a genuine lead, and we can’t let this chance pass us. Arsene recently said that it’ll take at least ninety points to win the league this season. To achieve that we’ll need to win pretty much all our remaining home games, to take the pressure off of league visits to Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge. After this it’s two big, big cup games, thankfully there’s a bit of a gap between this game and the FA Cup fifth round tie. We’re at the beginning of the run in now really, wins against teams like Blackburn are vital.
Blackburn are currently in the queue of sides below the main challengers for the UEFA Cup spots, vying to be involved. They’re a mere two points off the pace, but haven’t really been mentioned as much as Villa and Everton have in the fight for those two positions. Well, three, really, if Liverpool keep playing shite. They’ve drawn their last three league games, and before that they won three in a row. This is certainly a winnable game, but it’s also potentially another Birmingham at home. They’ll be dangerous at set pieces and quick on the counter attack, and in Santa Cruz and McCarthy, have strikers who can genuinely cause any team problems. One things for sure, if he plays, Senderos certainly won’t have as easy a ride as he had against the short strike force of Smith and Owen for Newcastle, and the inexperience of Daniel Sturridge up front on his own for Man City. We’ve seen the sorts of strikers that Blackburn will employ cause him problems numerous times in the past. He’s been in good form of late, but this will certainly be a test. Doesn’t really matter anyway, if they score three, Ade will just score four. He scores if you give him the ball, or so they say.
At home against Blackburn under Wenger, we’ve won six, drawn three and lost two. In all competitions home and away against them, it’s fourteen wins, four draws and four losses. Our form against them in recent years is mixed, but we last lost at home to them in October 2002. In the last two seasons, it’s three wins, two draws and a loss.
The whole squad is on it’s death bed. We get a chance to open up an important lead and half our squad is injured. Diaby, Rosicky, van Persie, Denilson and Djourou definitely miss this game, for various reasons. Senderos, Flamini and Almunia are question marks. Gilberto should be back in the squad and will probably play, either at centre back or central midfield. Wenger will be moving heaven and earth to get Toure back and fit to play, and if he does play than Gilberto may take Flamini’s place in midfield, if the Frenchmen isn’t fit to start after picking up a hamstring problem on international duty. Hleb will play on the left with Walcott on the right, as we have no one else. Eboue and Song won’t be back from international duty.
Blackburn have Christopher Samba, David Dunn and Morten Gamst Pedersen suspended for this game. Sounds about right, violent northern gits. They’re probably missing Ryan Nelson through injury, and possibly Andre Ooijer.