Arsenal welcome Championship side Blackburn Rovers to the Emirates on Saturday afternoon in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Our eight-year wait for a major trophy is well-documented and I feel the FA Cup provides our only realistic chance to end that drought this season. Some may point to the Champions League but I personally think we’ll struggle given the quality of the opposition in that competition. However, beat Rovers and we’re in the quarter finals of the FA Cup and can be a match for anyone on our day.
Arsenal have already seen-off Swansea and Brighton to reach this stage while Blackburn have overcome Bristol City and Derby County without conceding a goal. The visitors are also in good form in the league having lost just once in their last eight games so should be coming to the Emirates full of confidence.
But we’re playing well ourselves with two resolute performances on show in recent weeks to grind out 1-0 wins over Stoke and Sunderland, so we should be in confident mood as well.
Midfielder Jack Wilshere will face a late fitness test to see if he’s in contention after picking up a thigh problem last time out. Laurent Koscielny is also a doubt due to a calf problem but Thomas Vermaelen seems to be winning his fitness fight to overcome an ankle knock.
Carl Jenkinson is suspended after being sent off for two bookable offenses versus Sunderland. Abou Diaby, Aaron Ramsey and Bacary Sagna are all fit and pushing for starts while Tomas Rosicky and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are also in contention.
With Bayern Munich on Tuesday I’d like to see Arsene Wenger use his squad and rest a few key men. With Wilshere, Koscielny and Vermaelen all nursing knocks I think it would be sensible to rest all three for the Blackburn game. A back four of Sagna, Mertesacker, Miquel and Monreal should deal with Rovers just fine while Ramsey and Diaby in midfield should also be able to cope with the Championship outfit.
So below is the team I’d go with on Saturday. The boss may go with a stronger team but I think this eleven would suffice.
Arsenal have a superb record against lower league opposition in the FA Cup having never tasted defeat in our last 34 outings and I’d expect Saturday’s game to continue that trend. As long as the players show up and put in a professional display, our quality should shine through. Arsenal 2-0 Blackburn
What would your starting eleven be and whats your score prediction? Get involved in the comments section below.