Arsenal will make experience tell on return to Rovers, says Arshavin

Jim van Wijk
Thursday 26 August 2010 00:00

Andrei Arshavin has warned Blackburn that Arsenal will have some unfinished business at Ewood Park on Saturday. The Gunners, who look to be closing in on the £6m signing of experienced French defender Sébastien Squillaci from Seville, suffered a 2-1 defeat to Rovers in early May, having just seen any lingering hopes of staying in the title race brought to an abrupt end after losses at Tottenham and Wigan.

Afterwards the Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, accused Sam Allardyce's men of unfair tactics in showing "no purpose to play the ball" and also blamed the referee, Martin Atkinson, for not providing his team with more protection.

It was not the first time the Gunners have come unstuck against such an approach – although they had thumped Rovers 4-0 in the same fixture two seasons ago.

Saturday's lunchtime kick-off is set to provide another test of character for a team Wenger believes can finally come of age this season, having thrashed newcomers Blackpool 6-0 last weekend to build on their point at Liverpool.

Arshavin, who opened his account for the season with a penalty against the Tangerines, feels victory at Ewood Park would serve a double purpose heading into the international break. "We have a very important game against Blackburn," the Russian said. "We should win in order to leave without any worries for a break caused by the participation of the players in the national teams, this will give confidence to the team. In addition, we haven't forgotten about the defeat against Blackburn at the end of the last season."

Arshavin shares his manager's beliefs the current squad have learnt some hard lessons from last season, when they failed to produce big performances when it mattered most. "I think all the young players have become, not old, but they have experience now," Arshavin said. "Arsène works with them for a long time and that's why he knows them better and he knows what to expect during the season from the players. It gives me belief that we can get something this year.

"My opinion is, if you look at the points on last season's table, we were close, but then we met Chelsea and Manchester United and they beat us very easily. I would like to see this season that we will manage to fight against big teams."

Seville confirmed on Sunday night they had accepted an offer from Arsenal for Squillaci.

The 30-year-old centre-back has travelled to London for a medical to complete the deal which is expected to be officially confirmed in the next day or two.

Wenger had made no secret of his need to bring in more cover at the heart of the defence, following the summer departures of William Gallas, Mikaël Silvestre, reported to be on the verge of moving to Werder Bremen, Sol Campbell and Philippe Senderos.

Arsenal's largest shareholder, Stan Kroenke, moved a step closer to buying the St Louis Rams National Football League franchise after the governing body's finance committee unanimously approved his bid to take up an option for the remaining 60 percent of the stock.

Kroenke, who holds 29.9 per cent of the shares in Arsenal's parent company, challenged the NFL's rules against cross-ownership – the American also has interests in the Denver Nuggets basketball team, Colorado Avalanche ice hockey side as well as the Colorado Rapids soccer club which has a link-up with the Gunners.

Were Kroenke Sports Enterprises to purchase another 10 shares in Arsenal, then under City rules it would cross the threshold for triggering a takeover bid.

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