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[Archived] Blackburn Rovers 1 Arsenal 0


percy
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Q&A section finally added, apologies for the delay

Rovers vs. Arsenal - 25th Feb '06

In 2003/04, Arsenal strolled to the Premiership title, going on an unbeaten run of 49 league games in the process, playing some superb, attacking football along the way. Now they find themselves out of the ‘title race*’ at an early stage, knocked out of both domestic cups (after fielding what many consider weakened line-ups) and pushing for a top 4 finish to try and guarantee a crack at next season’s Champion’s League.

(* - OK, we all know Chelsea have run away with it again, but it’d be nice if someone gave them a challenge now and again…)

Despite a superb showing in this season’s initial group stage (5 wins and 1 draw), progress in this year’s tournament depends on getting past none other than Real Madrid (without the likes of Bergkamp, van Persie, Reyes, Cole, Clichy, Campbell and Cygan)........

Looking forward to next season, Arsenal will be moving to the Emirates Stadium next season, taking with them highly rated teenager, Theo Walcott, a recent £5m (rising to £12m) signing from Southampton at the grand age of 16!

On the other hand, Rovers find themselves in the lofty heights of 7th in the Premiership, after spending the last couple of seasons trying to keep adrift of the annual relegation battles. With an almost fully fit and refreshed squad (after a short break in Dubai), Rovers will hopefully be going into the match with a great chance of getting a result. With Bellamy available, hat-trick hero David Bentley in line to face his old team-mates and Rovers pushing for a European spot, Saturday should be a lively affair at Ewood, especially given the recent duels between the teams. Just 1 point seperates the teams at the time of writing.

Following Colin’s success in getting a surprise guest (Adrian Chiles) to join in with a Q & A session, I tried to follow suit, but without much luck. Dermot O'Leary hasn't responded and Osama Bin Laden seems to be even harder to get hold of. Instead I’ve had to turn to my mate, Russ, who claims he’s an Arsenal fan!

Q & A [note : done before the Real Madrid game]

So what’s gone wrong so far this season? Can Arsenal restore some pride, given the success of recent years?

Well, what’s gone right? The only league we’re in danger of topping this season is the injury table. Injures aside, I just don’t think the balance of the team is as good as it could be. We’re technically still great and as we showed against Middlesborough, capable of opening up teams, but we’re too lightweight. When teams defend deep and play a very physical game against us we can struggle and end up playing the ball around midfield without getting anywhere. In times like those, you can’t help but wonder what things would be like if we still had Vieira.

I’d have liked it if we’d bought an established dirty-great centre forward in the January transfer window, as it would have given us other some options in how we play. Instead we mainly bought players ‘for the future,’ presumably since we haven’t got the financial clout to get anyone from the top tier of current players. I’ve no doubt that in a couple of season’s time we’ll mature into a team playing the sort of fast, strong, incisive football that equals or even betters that of few years ago, but it might be tough in the interim. With that in mind, I think I’d settle for a Champion’s League spot out of this season, that’s minimum we need to have a chance of keeping Henry.

What? Even with Sol going crazy, Henry rumoured to be off on his way to team playing in a warmer climate and Ashley Cole still missing a leg or two?

Ah Percy, you know Sol’s as sane as the day is long. Even the best of us is prone to flip out, leave work halfway through a shift and live wild in the countryside with only a crisp packet glove puppet for company. Henry’s sure to stay with us after we win the Champions League, and Ashley Cole, with our current stunning defensive record (6 loses out of the last 10 away games) can afford to put his feet – or rather the mangled stumps that now adorn his legs - up for a few weeks. In fact, I actually think that it’s good that so many of our players are out!

Would you care to elaborate on that statement?

No – I didn’t see it.

So with your shattered squad, what are your thoughts about Saturday’s match?

I still think we’ll be ok, especially if we’re able to get something out of the Madrid game and our confidence is on a high. No doubt you’ll play some escaped convicts in midfield to rough us up a bit and try and give us an old-school bullying as teams seem prone to do against us these days, but I still think that we have enough class to make it back home with the three points. I’m not so sure about making it out with our lunch money or shins though.

What about facing superstar David Bentley again (after he scored the finest hatrick to ever grace a football pitch against Manchester United)?

Well, as you know Percy, I know Arsenal like Iain Dowie knows aerodynamics. Despite this, you’re gonna have to help me out here, which was he again?

The tricky, attacking midfielder hailed as the next Denis Bergkamp.

Ah yeah, that fellow. I remember I once scored 4 free kicks in one game with him on Pro Evo 5 against you. He’s not bad, but he just wouldn’t have played if he’d stayed. I don’t begrudge him going elsewhere to get first-team football.

For the record, it was a broken PS2 pad and I wasn't feeling too well. The sun was obscuring the view, the screen was too bright.........

Yeah, the old dodgy pad excuse…

So which Rovers players do you think Arsenal should watch out for?

Well, now Thompson has gone, I think the players’ cars’ tyres will be safe, so we don’t have to watch out for him. But seriously, against most teams, I think that your main attacking threat would come from the speed of Bellamy. At the moment though, we seem to struggle more with big powerful centre forwards. I remember ex-Rovers’ youth player Beattie barrelling his way through both of our centre backs to score last month, so I’d be more worried if Kuqi came on and started causing mayhem in the box. Pederson also seems to have a knack of smashing the ball into the top corner from wherever he is on the pitch.

Which Arsenal players do you think Rovers should watch out for?

Henry obviously. Toure should hopefully have settled back into the defence by Saturday too and should help sure things up a bit in a defence that’s been without any first teamers for most of the New Year.

Any thoughts about the new ground?

Well, it’s needed for the added cash that it’ll bring in if we’re to compete at the highest level. We’ve suffered in the transfer market from the money being diverted into it. Plus Highbury is starting to show its age these days, but there’s no room to expand because of the houses flush with the ground. The club shop there is so small that it looks quite quaint by today’s megastore standards.

I think one of the Chairman was claiming recently that it will have some of the most expensive tickets in the league, but that won’t affect you as you never go to the games, eh?

What? Why only last weekend I was savouring a game featuring the silky skills of my chosen side.

But they didn’t play…(it being F.A Cup weekend and you being knocked out by Bolton

Well, of course, for ordinary fans they didn’t. They played a special game just for me to reward me for being such a great fan. It was against the Harlem Globetrotters and a choice selection of classic wrestlers. Liam Brady scored a pile driver past Kendo Nagasaki in the final quarter.

I see. Well anyway, what’s your prediction for Saturday? I think 2-1 to Rovers.

It depends, our away form’s rubbish and you’re exactly the sort of team that could give us problems. Having said that, I think we could probably still do you 1-3. Anyhow, I hear that we’re playing some Spanish minnows tonight, so I’m off to watch that*

Thanks, Russ, here's hoping Madrid thrash you senseless and make it easy for us to roll you over at Ewood on Saturday!

(* - and then they only went and won 1-0! Russ was so made up I didn't have the heart to tell him that players don't drive to away games in their own cars....)

Edited by percy
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Big game this, for both teams! If we win then ROvers overtake the Arse with over two thirds of the season gone (!) and Wengers team could be up to eight points adrift of fourth.

More importantly we could move into within three points of Tottenham setting us up nicely for another 'big game' down at the lane the following weekend!

So, all in all I reckon it will be a draw. A win would be a sensational way to kick off the run in. Too sensational for Rovers.

Team I would like to see:

          Bentley      Bellamy

Peter    Savage      Tugay    Pedersen

  Gray  Nelsen      Zurab    Niell

                  Friedel

Subs:  Encks, Todd, Reid, Kuqi, Pongo

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Well, Paul Dickov's back for this game, thank  (Please don't use that word again) for that!!

We might actually start to look dangerous attacking again. He's easily Rovers must underated player of the past 10 years

385510[/snapback]

I didn't realise that, excellent news!

I would still like to see Bentley given a start up front, so maybe ease Dickov in from the subs bench, taking Kuiq's place?

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Joey

Playing Peter and Pedersen is a liability, also Reid has been our best player recently and should definitely start....

385512[/snapback]

I'm not sure how you came to that decision, how can playing Pedersen and Peter be any more of a liability than playing Pedersen and Bentley on the wing (which we have done for a considerable amount of games)? Pedersen particularly is a good defender and while Peter is lightweight I can't see him being any worse than our Dave.

I do agree about Reid though, he has been very good recently when he has played in the centre. But against Arsenal Tugay will get the space to dictate the game so will play and there is no way Savage will be dropped.

All in all I expect Hughes to start Reid over Peter, but I honestly think the other way round would be more likely to get a result. Peter will cause their full backs so many more problems and delivers a far superior cross from what we have seen.

Oh, and what joy to have such strength in depth that it is likely Axe, Emerton and Kuqi all won't even make the bench.

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How long is it since we've been able to say "If we beat Arsenal we go above them!" Really excited about the next month of games and it would be fantastic if we can get a win on Saturday. Arsenal have been crap away against Northen clubs this year so I fancy us to win! tinykit.gif

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Arsenal's away record this season is pretty poor

Played 13, won 3, drawn 3, lost 7

So it looks like we are in with a chance. Lots of injuries, Gilberto Silva is being slated by the Gooners as no good, & TH is being accused of being disinterested.

If we beat Arsenal, & West Ham don't win at home against Everton we'll be in fifth place. I'll need oxygen.

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Really really looking forward to this match. Three o'clock on a Saturday afternoo, Rovers playing for a European spot rather than relegation scrap, Bellamy fit and so on.

So definitely a hammering for the Blues it is.

C'mon Rovers, you wouldn't let me down again......would you?

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This will surely be a very interesting game, but I just can not see us winning this one, hope I'm wrong. Our defense against Sunderland was NOT good, and if we keep making mistakes at the back then a team like Arsenal will take advantage of that.

Hope Henry gets a tough time against the Real defense tonight, wouldn't mind him not playing against us.

Our line up should be:

          Friedel


Neill - Zurab - Nelsen - Gray


Reid - Tugay - Savage - Mgp


Bellamy - Bentley (if Dickov aint a 100% match fit)


Bench: Todd, Pongo, Emo, Dickov, Enckelman

Now with all our players back in action we seem to have a pretty strong team with a quality bench as well..

Edited by krislu
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True about our defense krislu but having watched Arsenal away lately, their defense could quite possibly be worse. We need to put pressure on their defense as much as possible and specially on their left back, whoever they play there this time. A good result here is definitely possible but we do need to keep Henry quiet. Maybe kick him around a bit, make him irritated...

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smile.gif 5-0 rovers smile.gif

bellamy

tugay

bentley

pedersen

savage

its gunna be a banging day and hopefully we can give arsenal a real pasting and bang a few goals home.

we have been unlucky against the arse in recent meetings, we played well down at the library earlier in the season and the scoreline really didn't reflect the game at all.

with the lads tanning up in dubai and doing bonding or whatever, hopefully spirits will be high and hughsey will have everything well sorted and got a plan to destroy wengers fannys. europe here we come, keep the faith!!!

i'd play:

friedel

neill todd nelson gray

reid savage tugay pedersen

bellamy bentley

subs: enks, zurab, peter, kuqi, pongolle.

think it may be a little to early to through dickov into a game like this, don't really know wot kind of match fitness condition he is in.

with arsenal on the european circuit, coming back to england to play a rovers side well but for it, chasing the european dream, arse won't be at the races. arsenal with plenty of injury problems and not in the title race won't fancy going to lancs and to the rebuilt fortress ewood park. rover.gif

some folk may think im having a laugh with the 5-0 prediction, maybe ive got a bit carried away but its about time we have revenge on these #####!! tongue.gif

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hope percy is still inj.he always scores against us.

i'd play bentley/ dickov upfront with bellamy. king pong hasnt been good enough so far. easily dispossed and doesnt seem to want to part with the ball.

bentley will play out of his skin. he's improved since he's got a contract. maybe he was trying too hard, or felt pressure before ?

peter on the right. i've seen sergio play on the right for the reserves and he'd be more of a threat than emo or reid. reid is all effort but no final product (he'll be picked to combat ashley cole, though).

i'm heartened by memories of beating them at ewood a couple of seasons ago (when hakan, duff and tugay ran riot and cygan was abymal) if we improve on our last 3 performances, we've got a real chance of beating them.

bellamy to score twice in a 2-1 win thumbs-up.gif

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Arsenal's away record this season is pretty poor

Played 13, won 3, drawn 3, lost 7

So it looks like we are in with a chance. Lots of injuries, Gilberto Silva is being slated by the Gooners as no good, & TH is being accused of being disinterested.

If we beat Arsenal, & West Ham don't win at home against Everton we'll be in fifth place. I'll need oxygen.

385547[/snapback]

Also, we'd only be 3 points off of 4th playing the 4th place team the next weekend. Just have a bad feeling about the next couple of weeks and have a feeling we could go from a good position to qualify for the UEFA cup and thoughts of Champions League to really having to pull out some results to get back into the UEFA cup spots. Just hope we turn up and play the way we can and then I think we'll give ourselves a good chance.

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Just watching Arsenal now and they are looking on top against Real. To be honest Real would be a damm site better if they had Lord Nelson in defence like we do.

Just hope Henry gets run off his feet in the second half so that he is wrecked for Sat

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