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.

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
Arts & Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'
tv
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
News
Russia's President Vladimir Putin gives his annual televised question-and-answer session
peopleBizarre TV claim
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Life & Style
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit