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Arsenal vs. Blackburn: FA Cup Match Preview

Arsenal welcome the Rovers to the Emirates tomorrow for some fifth-round FA Cup action.

Paul Gilham

Arsenal vs. Blackburn Rovers
FA Cup Fifth Round
Kickoff: Saturday, February 16, 10:00 AM EST
Emirates Stadium, North London, London, Greater London
Televisual Coverations: Fox Soccer Channel

Arsenal welcome Blackburn Rovers into the Emirates tomorrow for the fifth round of the FA Cup. Much of the discussion around Arsenal has looked ahead to the match against Bayern Munich, but tomorrow's match is arguably more important only in the sense that the FA Cup is a more realistic objective than the Champions League. This is mainly because Bayern Munich are turning into the football equivalent of the 1980 USSR ice hockey team before our very eyes (which is an argument that Arsenal should rest key players for tomorrow's match against Championship side Blackburn).

It's not an easy situation.

As things stand right now, the Arsenal lineup picture for tomorrow remains a bit muddied. Arsene Wenger has described the situation thusly:

"Wilshere and Koscielny have a test this [Friday] morning and Thomas Vermaelen should be back. He has a definite test today," said Wenger.

"We have plenty of people in training today who have a test and we'll see how well they come out of it. I am confident 50:50 with Wilshere and Koscielny, and Vermaelen 90:10."

Arsenal will take tomorrow seriously despite the looming spectre in three day's time afterwards. Gervinho is theoretically back and available, and I would wager that we see him in some capacity tomorrow (somehow his re-introduction to club football versus the German destroyers of Time seems bad). His appearance could spare the energies of one of Lukas Podolski, Theo Walcott, or Olivier Giroud for Tuesday, at least partially, in theory.

Blackburn, for their part, sit eighth in the Championship. They've just brought on former Arsenal player and being-a-jerkstore enthusiast David Bentley on loan, but by far their most potent attacking threat comes in the person of Jordan Rhodes, who has 19 goals this year. He is seriously in form, and could present a hard go of things for any Arsenal makeshift back four.

Speaking of which, based on the above quote, I think we're likely to see Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen, and Nacho Monreal tomorrow. I don't think this is a match that Wenger is going to want to try out a youngster in at this stage of the cup, especially as he may need one to throw into the maw of destiny against Bayern.

What do you reckon?

Match Prediction: