Again, Arsenal find themselves strong favourites going into a clash against lower league opposition, but these games are far from a guaranteed win for the Gunners. Arsenal have a number of players who are on the fence in terms of returning the the side from injury and face late fitness tests to determine whether they are ready.
The biggest problem for Arsenal going into this match is certainly their stretched defence with Vermaelen and Koscielny facing late fitness tests and Jenkinson suspended after picking up a red card at the weekend. There is a chance that Bacary Sagna may have to repeat his heroics from the weekend, but hopefully he finds himself shifted out wide with the return of either Vermaelen or Koscielny.
In terms of other team selection, there is every possibility Arsene Wenger may rest his star players with a tough clash against Bayern Munich upcoming in midweek. Wilshere remains doubtful for the clash and is likely to be rested if Wenger has any doubts on his fitness, while the likes of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tomas Rosicky and Abou Diaby may get a rare starts after waiting patiently on the bench.
Despite some key absences, expect the Gunners to still dominate Rovers at home. If Arsenal can convert their chances they should be safe, but we have seen on previous occasions that lower league opposition have every chance of causing an upset, particularly considering they go that extra mile in FA Cup clashes.
on Thomas Vermaelen (ankle)…
He is looking quite good and is possibly back for Saturday. He should be in the squad.
0n Jack Wilshere…
He is having tests today [Thursday] and tomorrow. He is looking better. He is still a doubt for Saturday. He’s got a kick on the thigh.
on Laurent Koscielny (calf)…
That is a problem. He has a test today and tomorrow exactly like Wilshere.
on other team news…
Ramsey is alright. Sagna is alright. Jenkinson is suspended. Diaby is available again and all the other players are alright.
on Fabianski playing his first game of the season in midweek…
He came back in the week so we are not too bad on the injury front. We have two short-term problems, with Koscielny and Wilshere, while Gibbs is out. That is it.
Sagna Mertesacker Vermaelen (c) Monreal
- Arsenal’s record in the FA Cup is solid. They are unbeaten in 34 games against lower ranked sides (W27 D7) and are also unbeaten in 34 FA Cup ties at home (W25 D9).
- The last piece of silverware the Gunners have won is the FA Cup eight years ago in 2005 and this will be the North London’s sides sixth appearance in the fifth round since winning the trophy. They have failed to progress on three of the previous five occasions.
- This is the seventh time that Arsenal and Blackburn Rovers have been drawn together in the FA Cup. Arsenal have progressed on four occasions; although Blackburn were victorious in their last meeting (2007 Fifth Round) winning the replay 1-0 (after the initial match ended 0-0).
- Olivier Giroud bagged a brace in the Fourth Round fixture against Brighton and Hove Albion and has since netted five times in his last five appearances.
- Jordan Rhodes has bagged nine goals in his last 10 appearances for Blackburn in all competitions.
Arsenal 3 Blackburn 1