By Giuseppe Muro
Arsenal suffered an unhappy visit to Ewood Park towards the end of last season, losing 2-1 despite Robin van Persie's early goal.
In fact, Arsenal haven’t won a Premier League game away from home against a side managed by Sam Allardyce since 2002. On that day, goals from Freddie Ljungberg and Sylvan Wiltord gave the Gunners all three points in a 2-0 win at Bolton.
Can Arsène Wenger's side change that record on Saturday? We spoke to Andy Cryer of the Lancashire Telegraph to get a Lancastrian perspective on this weekend's clash.
“It has been very quiet up here this summer. Senegalese striker Mame Diouf has come in on a season-long loan from Manchester United, Steven Reid has left and that’s pretty much it. However, they have re-signed the likes of Morten Gamst Pedersen, Phil Jones, Martin Olsson and Steven Nzonzi. They’re quite happy with what they’ve done.”
THE STORY SO FAR
“They beat Everton on the opening day which was a great result. I think winning against Everton is always a bonus for a side like Blackburn. Rovers’ home form is excellent. Against Birmingham, well - I doubt Birmingham will be dominated as much again all season. They just wasted so many chances, and Pedersen missed a penalty. They were caught by two sucker punches. Rovers are playing very well at the moment. They really outplayed Birmingham and deserved to beat Everton as well.”
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
“It was great finishing 10th last season with the finances they’ve got and the hopes are to improve on that. It looks like a top-eight finish could be out of reach due to finances - but there is talk of a possible takeover in January so who knows what could happen. Anything above 10th would be a success this year.”
MAN OF THE MOMENT
“Paul Robinson is very important to their success this season, he was superb last year. The reason he retired from international football is because he was fed up with not being involved in the squad at all - or third choice. He had to be the most consistent Premier League goalkeeper last season - I don’t think he made a mistake.”
THE ONE TO WATCH
'Phil Jones is an 18-year-old Blackburn lad who has come through the academy and I understand a lot of the top managers are already keen admirers of him. He has been at the club since he was 13 and is a centre-back who has just started playing the holding role in midfield - he really is a prospect. He has just made his England Under-21 debut and has started the first two games of the season. Jones made his name as a centre-back at the back end of last season, playing in the last six games and getting man of the match in four of them. He will start on Saturday.”
“They are a physical side. They’ve got Chris Samba who is six foot five and Stephen Nzonzi is six foot four, so they are a big, powerful side. They will be direct at times, Pedersen has got a lethal long throw and he can deliver a great dead ball as well. Robinson has got a huge clearance on him, but they will look to play some football. They just play to their strengths and they will keep doing that. Sam seems to have some kind of curse over Arsenal with sides at home. It’s a very different story away from home but he enjoys the home games.”
THE MAN IN CHARGE
“Allardyce has been massive since he took over. The club was heading into the Championship under their last manager Paul Ince, but he turned it around and kept them up. In that time he has sold £30 million worth of players and signed only £10 million worth. He hasn’t won over all the fans yet because sometimes people don’t like his style of play but what he has done for the club is amazing."