Blackburn Rovers Preview: Get The Winning Habit
Arsenal travel to Ewood Park this afternoon looking for a repeat of the 2-1 victory the last time these teams met on this date in 1946. This time around, Arsenal seek to continue the fledgling run being put together. The problem for Arsenal was succinctly highlighted by the manager on Thursday,
We must win. We live in an environment that questions us when we don’t win. We do not criticise that and have to live with that. We have to show performances, consistency and attitude quality, that makes us respected. It is as simple as that. That is why it is as important that we do not talk too much and play as well as we can
There is relish amongst the media that Arsenal have reverted to fill the club in crisis story. There has to be one and from their attitude towards him, a number of reporters will be only truly happy when Wenger is removed from his job. The difference in attitude was highlighted in the midweek results and their subsequent coverage. Arsenal lucky to draw, United and City unlucky despite both conceding chances which would have resulted in defeat. Luck in equal measure you would have thought.
Wenger though knows why, understands and reluctantly accepts this as being the world we live in,
For me [standing still is not an option] and in the modern society a cycle takes zero days. But I will judge myself by giving the best of my intelligence, experience and commitment to the Club and after I let other people judge what I do. At the end of the day and at the end of the season you know yourself whether you took the maximum out of the team and the team’s potential or not. I want our fans just to be happy and you make your fans happy if you win things and if you win games. That I think is that.
Except that is not enough. When Arsenal grind out a win, the result is not greeted as part and parcel of the game, a good team out of sorts but still winning. It is a failure, a betrayal of football. Wenger has turned matters on their head and now Arsenal must win with style and panache. Gone are the days when 1 – 0 is an acceptable scoreline. Yet at the moment, everyone would take such performances and results as the squad binds into partnerships and understandings, recovers the poise and swagger that return with confidence. That quality was brutally destroyed, slowly the building blocks are put in place to allow it back into the squad psyche.
Wenger received backing this morning from Gervinho. The Ivorian displayed humility when talking of his upbringing, revealing the source of his determination to play for Arsenal. Crucially, he wants to be here, not seeing it as a stepping stone for somewhere else and the manager was key to this in his view,
It’s Arsene’s job to choose his players and I believe in his vision. Whatever player Arsene picks to play for Arsenal, I respect that and so should the fans…I’d still have signed for Arsenal if [Nasri and Cesc] had been sold before I arrived — there are still great players at this club.
As usual there are those who would disagree but Gervinho’s loyalty is to be commended, even if it is expected from a new signing. He has not had the easiest of starts, wrongly accused of diving at Newcastle, rightly sent off under the Laws of the Game but he will recover and thrive. At least that’s the theory anyway. A goal or two will speed that process along, as much for his confidence as anyone else’s.
His place in the side brings a directness to the attack, as well as the ability to meander into a dead end or two, similar to Theo Walcott yet different enough to warrant both’s inclusion. Whether that will happen this afternoon remains to be seen with Walcott the more likely to make way for Gervinho.
Arshavin was, I thought, unlucky not to be included from the start in Dortmund, Walcott was unable to evade the German’s tactic of mass defending when he was in possession. This afternoon it strikes me that the Russian ought to be included, adding guile to the attack. Walcott as a late(r) substitute would take advantage of any tiredness in the Rovers defence.
Blackburn have problems, Steve Kean under pressure with a protest being mooted beforehand. A turbulent summer for Arsenal did not descend into quite the farcical depths of that endured by Blackburn where the owners talked loudly about signing ageing stars, none arriving nor seemingly interested in doing so. The Lancastrians highlight the problems of having a Sugar Daddy, or more starkly, when that individual is no longer around. A fall from grace that was not supposed to happen fifteen years ago, a title win that must seem a lifetime away and an eternity from ever being replicated.
This is a match even an out of sorts Arsenal ought to win. Rovers are bottom and although they showed indications of winning earlier in the week, they have yet to do so in the Premier League. Three points takes Arsenal (temporarily) into eighth, highlighting the over-reaction to the poor start in terms of points. The gap to United and Chelsea will not grow any wider with a win, closing on at least one of them this weekend. Getting the win is crucial.
Few changes to midweek should expected, Arshavin for Walcott would be my main one. Consideration might be given to Santos for Gibbs, the youngster is enhancing the attacking options on that provided by Clichy; a pity he is a defender. Age will bring the experience required and Gibbs has the potential, growing quietly in the shadows may make more sense in terms of confidence when he comes into the side.
Ramsey or Frimpong in the midfield might add more bite in what may be a physical contest, ‘Blackeye’ a hard moniker for the hosts to shake off. My line-up would be:
Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Santos; Ramsey (Frimpong), Arteta, Song; Arshavin, van Persie, Gervinho
Which won’t be the one Arsene chooses but so long as a win happens, at the moment that is all. Winning without the substance of performance is not a long term aim but with confidence growing, the substance can be added.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ’til Tomorrow.