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[Archived] Rovers 0 - 1 Arsenal

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Now with added interview~!

So following an excellent away draw at Anfield, we welcome Arsenal to Ewood Park on Saturday. Rovers should be full of confidence. We’ve kept three successive clean sheets in the league and the partnership between Todd and Nelsen is immense at the moment.

Arsenal, on their day, are the best attacking team in the Premiership. Even including Chelsea, there’s nobody better than Arsenal at picking apart a team with a few sweeping passes and a clinical finish.

Our recent results against them aren’t good, but generally we’ve had a strong history against them in the Premiership. We’ve won six times, three of those times being at Highbury which is never an easy place to go. Who can forget Mike Newell’s predatory instinct? Or Rovers beating the Champions-To-Be comprehensively. Or the heroic Brad Friedel saving all 744 shots on target in October 2002. In all domestic competitions since the beginning of time we’re currently down 26 to 46 with 28 draws.

It is said that our biggest mistake was not building on the strength of winning the Premiership. It cost us big time and resulted in relegation in 1999. Whilst it is unthinkable that that could happen to Arsenal, Arsene Wenger must be regretting generally sticking with his “Invincibles” squad.

Manchester United have consistently proven that they have what it takes to retain the title. No team has even beaten Manchester United to the title two years in a row. This is a testament to their strength. Therefore it is impossible to say that Arsenal are at that level.

They’ve had their downs recently as well. Almunia and Lehmann don’t know whether or not they’re coming or going. Sol Campbell has spent a lot of time injured and Senderos and Cygan have failed to do the same job. Flamini and Fabregas are starting to look a little burned out and aren’t providing the same cover for Vieira as Gilberto Silva or Edu do. Reyes is all over the place – homesickness and rumours of him going to Madrid have seen his form drop. Ashley Cole is being investigated by the FA, and Thierry Henry comes under constant criticism for failing to deliver in important games.

All this adds up to Rovers having a big chance on Saturday. Our defensive diamond of Mokoena, Todd, Nelsen and Friedel is essential. They cost around a million pounds cumulatively in transfer fees. No other team in the Premiership can claim that kind of defensive diamond at such a low cost. The 4-1-4-1 is the perfect formation for away matches or against big attacking teams. The onus will be on Arsenal to attack. This is a perfect opportunity to show them we’re no pushovers.

If we do this right then we’ll show them and the rest of the country that our match in Cardiff is no forgone conclusion. Even if things go wrong, Rovers can be proud of how well we’ve been doing recently. Either way, I’m not going into this match with the same kind of fear as when we’ve faced Arsenal in the past. I know we’re going to be alright, and right now I’m very proud of my team.

How would you describe your season so far?

I’d have to say its been a poor season. We’ve not won the league or the Champions League. The main reason is that Chelsea have been too good, but another reason is that Mike Riley cheated at Old Trafford.

What have been the good points?

Fabregas – he’s been great. I also think that Wenger has finally realised that we need a goalkeeper.

Who would you play out of Almunia or Lehmann?

Neither. I think I’d play Sol Campbell in goal. He’s got a better chance.

What have been your views on Chelsea this season?

They’ve been brilliant, that simple really. It’s been good for the Premiership but not Arsenal. It’s good that it’s broken the Arsenal/United thing. But in the future everyone will hate Chelsea like Man United.

Looking ahead, presumably Blackburn was the tie you wanted in the semi-final?

No we didn’t want Blackburn because they really are the big team left in it.

Are you worried about facing Aaron Mokoena once before the game?

Nah I think we’ll be alright. He’s got respect for the brethren. I think the only people who have to be worried are Pires and Ljungberg. Everybody else is safe as houses. He sounds like a peace-loving brother.

What’s your view of Blackburn this season?

I think you struggled early on because of Souness. Since Mark Hughes has come in you’ve looked far more solid. Todd has been a revelation.

You don’t really mean that.

No, I don’t really mean that. I think the difference between us and Blackburn fans is that you guys see your players through Blackburn Rovers glasses and we wear normal glasses.

So who’s the best player in the world?

Thierry Henry.

Several players have come in for criticism such as Ljungberg and Reyes for having poor form this season. Henry is still plagued by the belief that he doesn’t perform in big games. Is that fair?

I think it’s fair because they’ve not been playing well. Ljungberg has been playing well recently, except for the last minute against Bolton. Reyes wants to go to Real Madrid. And Henry has been poor as well. He’s only scored about ten more goals than anybody else this season. Really poor, that lad.

There are rumours that Wenger has a big war chest this summer. What would you like to see come in next season?

I’d like to see a World class goalkeeper. I’d like to see Lauren out, as you already know. And if Reyes goes I think we need a poacher instead of another winger. I’d love to see Michael Owen in. I’d also like to see another centre back so that Toure can play at right back.

What’s your take on the Ashley Cole situation?

He was duped. He loves Arsenal that kid. He hates Chelsea. Actually, I think he wants more money, like everybody else in the world. Our wage structure means he’d be on £35,000 a week. He knows at Chelsea he’d be on £70,000.

Are there any Rovers players you’re afraid of?

Two years ago it would have been Duff. Now, nah. You having a laugh? I’m just worried about keeping our players fit, you ###### hackers. I just hope that Cesc doesn’t play – he’s got a career ahead of him. Leave him alone.

What do you think the score will be?

2-0. Van Persie and Reyes.

Ok, thanks for that Izzy.

Edited by bellamy11
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Excellent as usual Mark. The board seems pretty unified in what we are trying to achieve at the moment, what with our attacking shortcomings, and we all appreciate the performances for what they are - defensively very impressive. I feel the Arse will have to work hard to get more than a point from us on saturday. Once again I will be able to witness the mighty Rovers live (on TV), and it will be a pleasure no matter what non-rovers might think of our current style of play.

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Another great preview!

Nailed on draw this one. Inevitably it will be seen as the warm up for the semi-final. Whether it is an entertaining or bore draw depends on which Arsenal turns up.

I suspect a 1-1. Their attack to have one moment of sublime brilliance, their defence to have one moment of weakness that costs them even against our toothless attack.

Crowd to be 18,000. Nothing in the last two televised games will attract the casual supporter to Ewood Park and away from the pub/TV on Saturday morning (even though I thought Everton a week last sunday was a cracking good match to watch). I presume Category A prices as well.

Even the well-heeled Arsenal supporters will give this a miss as well.

Edited by philipl
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Bet that was more than just a few years ago...eh Den? wink.gif

As for the game...0-0. Can't see us scoring more than one whatever happens so hopefully we will be able to shut them out. A win and I would say we were safe. That would take us to thirty five points and I can't see the required total being that high. I'd expect us to finish this season on about the same points as last year, well clear of the bottom three.

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I somehow think we will beat them 2-1. MGP and Stead to score the goals.

But if we beat them on Saturday, then I will be quite hopeless. I don't think we will win against Arsenal twice within such a short time. dry.gif

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I think that we have a pretty good chance in this game. Arsenal aren't playing that well at the moment, they are defending badly and Henry is out. A win would almost certainly guarantee our survival, as long as other results went our way. Even though this suffocating style that we have brought to our game is working well, I'd hope to see a more open game, where Rovers can show what they can do going forward. At the same time, this could play into Arsenal's hands, but without Henry, they aren't the same threat on the break.

I'm going for a 2-1 win for Rovers, with Stead and Reid getting the goals. rover.gif

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I see Rovers little run coming to an end. I know they probably wont have terry 'enry in the side and Rovers will jsut have to put up with the speed of reyes, the diving of pires and the brattish attitude of one bergkamp. Not to mention the tackling of fabregas and vierra dry.gif

makes you shiver thinking about it tinykit.gif

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