Ewood Park. Hardly inspires a sense of excitement , does it? Sam Allardyce? Seems a marriage made in Northern hell. Work ethic, win ugly, they don’t like it up ’em, let them know you are there, passing football is for soft southern poofs, hit hard and hit often, we will score from set pieces…… the epitome of anti-football.
But is that a fair summation? Am I being Southcentric? Only you can decide. I have been to Ewood Park, to the shabby Northern streets of Blackburn, and it was exactly as expected – though the pies are excellent!
The stats: One point and we are guaranteed third place. Blackburn have lost only 2 of 17 home games, they have won just 2 out of 18 against top half opposition. Arsenal have scored 16 goals in the last 4 meetings between the clubs. Van Persie has scored 9 in 8 games against B’burn. The usual suspects are missing for Arsenal, though there is a small chance that Arshavin could play. Allardyce has a full squad to choose from. We will have the opportunity to check out Phil Jones (CB) and N’Zonzi (MF) both talked of as potential AW’s targets (though AW has been his usual non-commital self).
Writing this I feel a sense of apathy, and really fear the team will feel the same. The Fulham home game will secure the 3 position and a trip to Ewood is hardly an enjoyable experience. I am concerned the team will just go through the motions and look to escape without injury prior to the World Cup selections. However, as these are men who are paid a huge amount of money to play for The Arsenal, will they give their all for the cause against a fired up Blackburn team? – because there is no doubt Allardyce will want his team to give 100% and mirror his gum-chewing, snarling self. When the first thumping tackle goes in will our lads fight fire with fire or will they roll over and avoid the confrontation? We have some players that undoubtedly will give as good as they get (Sol & RvP to name but two), but we also have players who go missing in the heat of battle and in a meaningless game like this, I would not play them. So, I would continue the Eastwood experiment and play Bendtner instead of Theo. Maybe let Eduardo show us the improvement AW has seen in training.
There is not much more to say about Rovers. We know their style of play, exemplified by El Hadji Diouf – a serial bad boy and a man even his own fans are ashamed of.
Blackburn was the centre of the textile business during the Industrial Revolution with 43 mills and 43,000 looms! Real Lowry country. The spinning Jenny was invented in Blackburn. What else…..? Carl Fogarty was born there. It has the highest percentage of Muslims in the UK. And of course, as most of the world knows, there are 4,000 holes in Blackburn Lancashire but what that means I have no idea!
Expect a physical battle. Be happy to escape injury free with the point to secure 3rd. My personal target is to stay awake until the final whistle, but I will be recording the game just in case……..