Michael Appleton takes Blackburn to the Emirates this weekend. The Rovers face off against Arsenal in the fifth round of the FA Cup. Arsene Wenger's men beat Championship side Brighton & Hove Albion to reach this stage. The visitors beat Derby County at Pride Park in the previous round.
Where to Watch
Kick-off is set for 3pm GMT. Live radio commentary will be available on BBC Radio 5 Live. Catch highlights on iTV and iTV HD at 10.35pm GMT.
The north London club come into this game after a 1-0 win at Sunderland last week. Spanish international Santi Cazorla scored the only goal in a match the Gunners dominated. The only fly in the ointment was a red card for wing-back Carl Jenkinson.
Arsene Wenger and his men are in reasonably good form, with four wins in their last five games. This includes a good performance in a 2-2 home draw against Liverpool. Arsenal are fifth in the Premier League and still very much in contention for Champions League football next season.
However, the fact they have won only once all season against Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool, will be some cause for concern. As will the fact they have picked up only four points from the six contested so far against fellow Champions League hopefuls Tottenham and Everton.
Home form has been satisfactory for the Gunners, with only three defeats in 13 league games so far; seven of the remaining 10 were wins. More importantly, they've scored more goals at home than any other side in the Premier League, save United (33 to Sir Alex Ferguson's 34). Unfortunately, they have also conceded more goalsthan they would like; only Swansea City, Aston Villa, Reading, Wigan Athletic and QPR have worse defensive records.
Looking forward, Wenger may be forgiven for fielding a weakened team, considering the Gunners face German giants Bayern Munich in the Champions League, in three days' time, and then play Tottenham and Everton before travelling to Germany to play Bayern again.
The Rovers are in reasonably good form as well, with only one defeat so far in 2013 - that's from a run of nine games, five of which were wins. Appleton's last game was away at Brighton, where his team drew 1-1.
Blackburn remain within touching distance of a play-off place for promotion to the Premier League next season. They are in eighth position, with 44 points, while Middlesbrough occupy the final play-off spot (sixth) with 50 points.
Though the visitors are undoubtedly the underdogs, Appleton will take comfort from the fact Arsenal lost, sensationally, to League Two side Bradford City in December to crash out of the Capital One Cup.
- Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): W W D W W
- Last Result: Sunderland 0 - 1 Arsenal
- Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): D W W W D
- Last Result: Brighton & Hove Albion 1 - 1 Blackburn Rovers
Wenger will be cautious in his selection for this tie, given Bayern await midweek. French international Laurent Koscielny (calf) is a doubt and Belgian Thomas Vermaelen (knee) will probably not feature at all, given Champions League football is more important. This means youngster Ignasi Miquel will probably deputise at centre-back, alongside German Per Mertesacker. Midfielder Jack Wilshere (dead leg) is unlikely to play, for the same reasons as Vermaelen, and Jenkinson is suspended. Kieran Gibbs (thigh) remains unavailable, which means January signing Nacho Monreal continues at left-back.
Probable Line-Up: Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Miquel, Monreal; Arteta, Diaby; Gervinho, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Podolski
Appleton has a full squad available for selection. Former England international goalkeeper Paul Robinson is likely to remain on the bench, with 22-year-old Jake Kean the preferred No 1. Aside from that, Appleton is unlikely to make too many changes.
Probable Line-Up: Kean; Orr, Dann, Henley, Martin Olsson; Pedersen, Murphy, Lowe, Marcus Olsson; Kazim-Richards, Rhodes
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