Arsenal look set to be without Jack Wilshere for the FA Cup fifth round clash with Blackburn Rovers on Saturday, with the England midfielder picking up a knock to his thigh in the win over Sunderland last weekend. Laurent Koscielny is also struggling for fitness with a calf injury, though there is good news regarding captain Thomas Vermaelen, with Arsene Wenger suggesting he should recover from and ankle injury to feature in the squad.
Blackburn have been on a good run of form as of late with the side unbeaten since their 2-1 defeat to Charlton six games ago. Top scorer Jordan Rhodes has notched 20 goals in all competitions so far this season – more than any Arsenal player. The problem for Rovers is they rely on Rhodes too much, with other forwards Ruben Rochina and Colin Kazim-Richards scoring just nine goals between them.
The two sides met twice last year before Rovers were relegated from the top flight, and they suffered two rather differing results, winning 4-3 at home early-on in the season before receiving a 7-1 battering at the Emirates. Gael Givet was sent-off that day while Scott Dann scored an embarrassing own goal, and manager Michael Appleton will be hoping for a change in fortunes for the visitors.
PAST THREE MEETINGS...
Arsenal 7 (Van Persie 3, Oxlade-Chamberlain 2, Arteta, Dann og) Blackburn 1 (Gamst Pedersen), Premier League, February 2012.
Blackburn 4 (Yakubu 2, Song og, Koscielny og) Arsenal 3 (Gervinho, Arteta, Chamakh), Premier League, September 2011.
Arsenal 0 Blackburn 0, Premier League, April 2011.
The two clubs have played each other eight times in the FA Cup, with Arsenal winning four, Blackburn three and just one draw.
The last time they met in the FA Cup was in 2007, when they played a 0-0 draw at the Emirates before Rovers won 1-0 in the replay.
Mikel Arteta scored three goals against Rovers last season, one in each league game for Arsenal and once playing for Everton before his deadline day transfer.
It is often a feisty affair when the two meet as there have been 4 red cards within the last 10 league games – Givet, Steven N’Zonzi, Denilson and Ryan Nelson.
Arsenal to win: 1.32
Blackburn Rovers to win: 11.5
TV: Highlights on ITV at 10.35pm.