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[Archived] Sell Out At The Emirates

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Our second journey to the capital in a week takes us to the Emirates and I write this preview prior to my trip to Craven Cottage with free coach travel. Thanks to Fulham FC for their kind gesture after our wasted journey to the postponed game in January.

It goes without saying that we are in desperate need of points from these two games. How they come is of no real consequence. I just hope that I hear Professor Wenger on Match of the Day moaning about Blackburn’s physical approach to the game and how they had no intention of trying to match his aristocrats at football because, if that is the case, then there is a chance we may have snatched a point or, in my dreams, an improbable win.

However, if he waxes lyrical and compliments Blackburn on trying to force the play and attack at every opportunity, then it’s more or less guaranteed we will have lost 4-1.

I would imagine that subject to player availability, Big Sam will adopt a 4-5-1 formation with Roque Santa Cruz as the focus of our attacking play. There is no doubt that Arsenal are masters of scoring the perfect goal and everyone in a Rovers shirt will need to be in the top of their game and be mentally focussed. We must not give silly free kicks away in dangerous positions and try to keep the ball whenever we can.

This will be my first visit to the Emirates for a football match, although I did see Bruce Springsteen perform in concert there in May last year. Let’s hope that it’s the Rovers who are ‘the boss’ for this performance. It’s a marvellous stadium and latest reports suggest the match will be a sell out.

I previously wrote match reports for a now defunct Rovers supporters website and this week I relect on a game I covered against Arsenal just over 3 years ago on 25th February 2006 at Ewood Park. Here are a couple of snippets taken from that report:

Match Report – Blackburn Rovers 1 – 0 Arsenal

Date – Saturday 25th February 2006

“Blackburn Rovers continued their excellent Premiership home form against Arsenal with a single goal victory at Ewood Park. The Gunners may have found it a ‘bit of a breeze’ in the Bernabeu on Tuesday but the ‘Blackburn bullies’ were in no mood to stand back and admire the silky skills of Henry, Reyes and Co”.

“The Rovers held on for another superb victory to make it 9 home wins in the League programme for this season”.

“Fortress Ewood? – Is starting to look like that!”

What to take from the game…


· 5th position in the table and a week to keep switching on Teletext

· Brave hearts and Brave minds

· A focussed and determined team for the run in with plenty of options across the squad


· Sad to see only 22,500 attending – this match deserved more

· Injury to Pedersen – let’s hope he is back soon

Player ratings

Brad Friedel – 8 – One super save and dominated his area throughout

Lucas Neill - 8 – Continued with his high level of consistent performance

Ryan Nelsen – 8 – Usual impressive display

Andy Todd – 9 – Seemed to intercept every through ball and kept Henry quiet all afternoon. MOM

Michael Gray – 7 – A bit isolated especially when Pedersen left the fray but coped well

Steven Reid – 8 – Another excellent midfield performance

Robbie Savage – 8 – Became more influential as the game progressed

Tugay – 8 – Dominated the first half with a brilliant cultured display

Morten Gamst Pedersen – 8 – Right place at the right time to score then unfortunate to pull a hamstring

Craig Bellamy – 9 – Awesome pace to set up the winner and our final destiny this season will depend on his fitness

Pongolle – 8 – Looked much sharper than his previous appearances and linked up well with Bellamy – more to come you feel


Sergio Peter - 6 – Tried too many difficult options rather than the simple ones. This will have done him good though to play against top-drawer opposition as opposed to QPR in the Cup

Bentley – 7 – Will have been disappointed to be left out after his hat trick but still has a lot to offer this team

Mokoena – 7 – Little time to impress


Yes, you read it correctly…up to 5th position in the Premier League and our 9th home league win by the end of February! How times have changed at Ewood Park. Me thinks we need investment sooner rather than later or it may be trips to Vicarage Road and Oakwell as opposed to Old Trafford and the Emirates.

To look at our opponents in this match I have asked my 12-year-old nephew Mark Garstang, a dedicated Gooners fan to answer a few questions. Mark’s family and mine are staying over in London and going to the match. He will be with the Arsenal fans and of course we will be with the away supporters.

Why do you support Arsenal and how often do you get to see them live?

I support them because my dad and granddad followed them. I have been to five games this season and will be going on Saturday, then against Newcastle and I will also be going to Fratton Park.

How do you think the Emirates stadium compares with the old Highbury?

Much bigger and better.

What do you make of the Gunners season so far?

They can play very well but lack consistency. They will improve when the younger players mature.

Who have been your most impressive performers this season?

Van Persie and Sagna have both played well. Fabregas and Walcott started the season very well but have both suffered injuries.

Do you think the supporters still feel that Arsene Wenger is still the best man for the job as manager?

Yes, but we think he needs to sign a couple of players in the summer. We need a commanding centre-half and a defensive midfield player.

What do you think of your new signing Arshavin?

He has settled in well and is looking sharper.

What do you think of the current Rovers team; who should you look out for and do you think they will stay up?

They have underperformed this season and are still suffering from the Paul Ince period. We will have to watch Santa Cruz and Diouf. I hope they stay up but I think they will only just do it.

And finally, what do you predict the score will be?

2-1 or 1-0 to the Arsenal, but it will be close.

Thanks very much Mark and let’s hope we are still speaking after the match. :lol:

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I think this is the first time I've seen Rovers twice in a week. the best I can hope for is a repeat of the cup game at the Emirates a couple of years ago when we attempted to bore them to death. That will probably be sam's plan as well, might bring a good book.

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Great to see this will be a total sellout, will be my first visit to the Emirates and I can't wait tbh :rover: . Hope we can pick up the points tomorrow then it takes some of the pressure off, not that many will be expecting anything but if we can get behind the team and they show the desire and commitment whilst wearing the blue and white halves then we have every chance of taking something away from this game. ROLL ON SATURDAY :brfcsmilie:

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Anybody looking to offload a ticket - I would be very interested! Live just around the corner from the ground. Drop me a PM is one is going spare.

Was at Fulham yesterday, teriffic second half, thought the boys were great value.

Bit worried about Arsenal as one of the immutable rules of Rovers is that Pedersen cannot play well if he does not have a weeks rest and at the moment he is crucial to the way we play. Take him out of the team and suddenly we will strugle to hurt the opposition around the box.

I would like to see a Tugay/Dunn/Warnock partnership in central midfield in a 451/433 formation. Andrews to be dropped. Hopefully Cruz will return.

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If any team can make Tugay look every one of his 38 years then it will be Arsenal, I think I'd go with Mokoena against Arsenal. Assuming Dunn is fit enough to start then he should definitely take Andrews' place though.

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If any team can make Tugay look every one of his 38 years then it will be Arsenal, I think I'd go with Mokoena against Arsenal. Assuming Dunn is fit enough to start then he should definitely take Andrews' place though.

Correct - not a game for the great man. Give him a rest.

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Any news on the injury front?

Grella, Roque and Dunny?

Roque will be crucial in this game i feel. Will play a similar role to the one he played VS United.

Would be happy with a point, that would leave us on 8 points from 4 games, which is brilliant.

Tugay I'm afraid his days are numbered, we will no longer see the same man that scored a firing low drive past Arsenal a few seasons ago. Would love the Turk to stay associated with the club. True Legend!

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Tugay I'm afraid his days are numbered, we will no longer see the same man that scored a firing low drive past Arsenal a few seasons ago. Would love the Turk to stay associated with the club. True Legend!

Hate to say it but I agree with you. Sadly Tugay is well off the pace with lots of misplaced passes against Fulham. I don't think he can do 2 games in a week and the Arsenal midfielders could embarrass the legend so I hope he is not involved.

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van persie is the one that kills us everytime, really need a freak training ground injury for him

From BBC's preview

Emmanuel ADEBAYOR scored a hat-trick in the reverse fixture, and has scored five goals in five league appearances against Blackburn.

VAN PERSIE has scored six goals in six top-flight appearances against Rovers, and eight in seven league and cup appearances against them.

Adebayor is said to be back. Would have preferred Eduardo instead of him.

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