Per Mertesacker says Arsenal must focus on Blackburn despite Bayern Munich Champions League tie looming

Arsenal play Blackburn in the FA Cup this weekend

Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has said that his side must forget about the upcoming Champions League tie with Bayern Munich and focus on reaching the FA Cup quarter-finals by beating Blackburn.

The Gunners will be hosting the Championship side four days before they play Bayern at the Emirates Stadium.

German centre-back Mertesacker said Arsenal need to focus and not become complacent to allow Blackburn to cause an FA Cup upset.

"We still have an important cup game on Saturday (first) - we absolutely want to advance in the FA Cup, that is why the preparations for Bayern are not that intense yet," Mertesacker said as part of adidas 'football Hangout on air' webchat.

"However, beginning on Sunday the preparations for Tuesday's match will be extreme.

"Bayern are doing superb this year and that is a big challenge for us, but we are looking forward to both legs."

Bayern Munich have not lost since October 28 and have opened up a 15-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga, maintaining their superb form with four straight wins.

Former Arsenal and Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann believes his old club will face a real challenge to progress further in the competition against last season's Champions League finalists who eventually lost out to Chelsea.

Writing in a column for the Sport Bild magazine, Lehmann said: "For an English team it is the worst draw to play a German team directly after the winter break.

"In addition to that Bayern has not been really challenged for once yet in the second half of their season. The only stress they have is the one at the training sessions."

However, Lehmann, 43, believes Arsenal have the quality and players to cause Bayern problems.

He added: "(Bayern coach) Jupp Heynckes will warn his players of the speed that Arsenal still can play in the offensive game, especially Theo Walcott but also more and more Lukas Podolski can be very dangerous.

"Vice-versa, Arsenal will look to stop Bayern creating their good positioning game from which they can accelerate."

Arsenal extended their unbeaten run to five matches with a hard-fought 1-0 Barclays Premier League win against Sunderland.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger said he was contemplating rotating his squad for the FA Cup tie, in hope of protecting some of his key players.

Captain Thomas Vermaelen missed both the last two matches because of an ankle problem, for which he has been treated with injections.

The Belgian defender said during a Q&A with fans on Arsenal's official Twitter account this morning: "At the moment I feel great, I trained all week, so hopefully I will be back really quickly."

Wenger later revealed Vermaelen was "looking quite good" and could feature this weekend.

However, Wenger said midfielder Jack Wilshere was still be closely monitored after coming off against Sunderland with a dead leg.

Speaking to the club's official website, arsenal.com, Wenger said: "He is having tests today and tomorrow.

"Jack is looking better. He is still a doubt for Saturday. He's got a kick on the thigh."

Wenger also revealed centre-half Laurent Koscielny was unlikely to feature following a  calf injury which saw him limp during the warm-up last weekend, after originally picking up the problem while away on international duty with France.

Full-back Carl Jenkinson will be suspended for the match against Blackburn after his red card at Sunderland last week.

With Kieran Gibbs still out with a thigh injury and Andre Santos having joined Brazilian club Gremio on loan, Wenger's defensive options are, at a push, stretched, so Ignasi Miquel, the 20-year-old Spaniard, looks set to be involved again this weekend.

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?