Arsène Wenger will take his young side north to Lancashire for their clash with Paul Ince’s Blackburn Rovers on Saturday. This season Arsenal.com will be identifying the key battles for the game. We will bring you all the statistics and information a fan could need so swot up now and come Saturday you'll be impressing anyone who'll listen with your new-found knowledge.
Roque Santa Cruz v William Gallas
Roque Santa Cruz was one of the stand-out Premier League strikers last year and captain William Gallas has been handed the responsibility of trying to shackle him on Saturday. The Paraguayan poses a threat both in the air and on the floor and hit 19 goals in 37 outings last season. But if any man can stop him, it’s Gallas. The 29-year-old made one shy of 20 tackles last season and was only unsuccessful on three occasions. The 58 clearances are testament to the fact that the Frenchman is equally adept at keeping it simple at the back. The Frenchman scored four times last season and has already notched twice this term so the skipper may well trouble Blackburn at both ends.
|Roque Santa Cruz||William Gallas|
|Passes not completed||87||47|
|Shots on target||44||8|
|Shots off target||29||7|
Morten Gamst Pedersen v Bacary Sagna
If it wasn’t bad enough that Morten Gamst Pedersen has to try and unlock a defence that has only conceded one goal in five games this season, the Norwegian finds himself directly up against the man voted best right-back in the Premier League last term. Bacary Sagna couldn’t have wished for a better first season as a Gunner and the Frenchman has started 2008/09 in much the same vein. The stats won’t make happy reading for Pedersen ahead of Saturday’s clash. Of Sagna’s 26 tackles last season, he was successful 21 times and only failed to complete one of his trademark dribbles four times. The Frenchman has kept up the Arsenal tradition of attacking full-backs too. Despite playing in defence, Sagna contributed the same number of assists as Pedersen last year and it would come as no surprise if Bacary had the Norwegian on the back-foot at Ewood Park.
||Morten Gamst Pedersen||Bacary Sagna|
|Passes not completed||114||77|
Christopher Samba v Robin van Persie
Christopher Samba was one of the top performers in a sparkling season at Ewood Park last term. Samba arrived in Blackburn in the summer of 2006 and was used sparingly in his first year but the Congolese defender really emerged last season. As a quick, tough-tackling centre half, Samba appeared more than any other Blackburn defender last year, playing nearly 3,000 minutes for his side as Rovers missed out on Europe by two points. One man who did breach that Blackburn defence though was Robin van Persie. The striker pounced in the 18th minute at Ewood Park to hand the visitors the lead. Robin, like many other games last season, missed the return fixture through injury, but still struck five times in his 15 appearances. The Dutchman is flying so far this term and bagged a first-half brace in Arsenal’s last Premier League outing. Samba be warned.
|Christopher Samba||Robin van Persie|
|Passes not completed||82||32|
|Shots on target||18||23|
|Shots off target||15||23|