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Blackburn vs. Arsenal Match Preview

On Saturday, August 28, Arsenal will travel north to Ewood Park for a 7:45 EDT kickoff against Blackburn Rovers.  ESPN2 and ESPN 3 will air the match live on US television.

In last year's corresponding fixture, Arsenal fell to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Rovers.  Blackburn made life illegally difficult for Lukasz Fabianski off of set pieces, a tactic which Arsène Wenger hinted that they may try again this weekend as well.

Arsenal have been seen as making something of a tradition out of struggling away against Northern teams, and that result will have done little to abolish that way of thinking.  However, Arsenal played that match without Thomas Vermaelen, Manuel Almunia, William Gallas, or Cesc Fabregas.  This time around, it will not be so; Almunia is slated to start in goal, Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny will pair in defense, Alex Song should be roaming in front of the back four, and both Fabregas and Robin van Persie are fully available to start.

The Gunners played very well last weekend vs. Blackpool, and they will look to carry that momentum into tomorrow.  One might expect them to play a more guarded game when away, but with players such as Walcott and Tomas Rosicky experiencing the types of form that they are, and with the threat of van Persie, Fabregas, Abou Diaby, Andrei Arshavin, Marouane Chamakh, and Abou Diaby, as well as Denilson (who has never lost against a Sam Allardyce side, as 7AM Kickoff notes on twitter), Arsenal may very well come out guns a-blazin' and look to step on Blackburn's throats.

It would not be surprising to see Arsenal play a 4-1-4-1 or a 4-2-3-1 in the early stages, switching to a more pure 4-3-3 if goals are needed later in the contest.

(New signing Sébastien Squillaci is not available for tomorrow's match, despite having trained with the club today.  He will be available going forward, however.  Expanding on much of the coverage of Squallaci available today, he looks to be a more combative central defender, roughly the same size as Laurent Koscielny but with six additional years on his compatriot.  30 is still peak age for a center half, and having a full French international as third or fourth choice is not bad at all.  He will wear the number 18 shirt vacated by the departed Mikael Silvestre.)

Potential lineup for tomorrow's match:





Walcott/Eboue----------van Persie---------------Arshavin

with Chamakh coming off the bench.  Diaby may figure somewhere in central midfield as well, perhaps next to Song.  Walcott seems likely to start given his freshness and form, as well as his pace and ability to get behind the Blackburn defenders.

All in all, this is a match that Arsenal should win comfortably with a full team.  Blackburn will no doubt try to boss Arsenal with a more, er, robust physical approach, but with the skill of Arsenal's full starting eleven available, Arsenal should manage to break down the opposition.