Preview: Arsenal vs Blackburn Rovers
By Randy Osae
Arsenal are at much risk of finishing top-four-less than they are of being trophyless come May – bookmakers may presume.
For this club’s caliber, being among the top flight’s best quartet is often a frill to Arsenal’s successes, but as of now, it may be the pinnacle of 2008/09.
Thus, leapfrogging Aston Villa does not escape under-achieving. And Wenger will not plead for plaudits if he attains that feat – as it is not a work of miracle.
After all he has been there and done that before.
“It is not the first time,” he confessed.
“It is the first time people have spoken about it but remember in 2006 we only got fourth place in the final game of the season.
“We are used to it, it is not miraculous. Aston Villa have spent a lot of money, they have a good team. It is not surprising that there are some other teams challenging for that spot.”
Arsenal’s boss though, should not begin counting his chickens just yet.
This could be that vintage year for his fledgling side who have done the quarter-final double in the FA Cup and Champions League. To add to that verve, maximum points tomorrow will take Wenger’s men above Aston Villa – for 24 hours at least.
Good hints are; the margin between Arsenal and Villa can be resolved with one lively weekend. And who knows? with Villa Park the destination for the ever-predictable Tottenham on Sunday, this could be the weekend Arsenal are finally reprieved of their top-four membership’s blunders.
(That’s when ‘but’ looms.)
But the Gunners are not ticking all check marks at the Emirates Stadium. And if West Ham, Sunderland and Fulham came with buses packed, Blackburn will have their train loaded.
In the Premier League’s muscular ranks, only Stoke City can really subside Rovers for top spot. The North-West club are no amateurs at warding off attacking sides and not as if Wenger does not have tiny jitters of confronting Sam Allardyce already.
The former Bolton and Newcastle foreman has matched Arsene’s shoulders on a few occasions, but hopefully, Saturday will only be a matter of patience in untying another thick knot.
Eduardo will sit out the match due to a groin problem but Andrei Arshavin returns after ineligibility for the midweek Champions League outing. Mikael Silvestre (calf) is not yet match fit, while Emmanuel Adebayor (hamstring), captain Cesc Fabregas (knee) and Tomas Rosicky (hamstring tendon) continue their rehabilitation.