Welcome to Talking Heads.
Before and after every first-team fixture, our co-commentator and an Arsenal blogger will have their say on the game.
Arsenal take on Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup on Saturday and our Talking Heads for this game are Arsenal Player commentator Dan Roebuck and Tim Clark from Arse2Mouse.
Dan Roebuck CommentatorDAN ROEBUCK, COMMENTATOR
Well, I certainly wasn’t expecting that!
Arsene Wenger and his team will be massively disappointed with Saturday’s result. The team dominated possession, as we expected, but didn’t create as many clear-cut chances as they would have liked.
Credit to Blackburn, they were organised, defended well and worked hard. When they got their chance, they made sure they took it.
It’s crucial that Arsenal don’t dwell on this result. Bayern Munich will provide a huge test on Tuesday evening and it’s vital that the players stand up to the task.
This is a game that Arsene Wenger will be very much expecting to win. Arsenal have a great chance of winning the FA Cup this season, and a home tie against a lower-league side presents an excellent chance of progressing.
The defeat against Bradford City in the Capital One Cup was a shock and will have hurt the team. I don’t think there’s any chance that the players will be underestimating Blackburn on Saturday.
It will be interesting to see what type of team Wenger picks, particularly with the Bayern Munich match to look forward to on Tuesday evening.
Whoever does start will have to be wary of the threat possessed by Jordan Rhodes. The striker was hugely-prolific during his time with Huddersfield Town and has carried that form on at his new club.
Wenger will be looking for his team to start quickly and score early. If they can do that, Blackburn will have to push forward more which will leave them open to counter attacks.
It was 7-1 last time these sides met at the Emirates and while I can’t see a repeat of that result, I think Arsenal will win comfortably. I’ll go for a 3-0 home win.
Tim Clark Arse2MouseTIM CLARK, ARSE2MOUSE
This being a family site means my response must be suitable for a PG-13 audience, so let’s just say… that wasn’t very good. Before the game I predicted Gervinho and The Ox would start, with both needing a goal for differing reasons. I’m not sure it’s unfair to suggest they could be playing now and still be no closer to scoring. But I can’t complain about the team selection. The side chosen ought to have been talented enough to overcome Blackburn. What I will complain about are the tactics and motivation. Time and again against supposedly lesser teams our players seem content to drift along lackadaisically, shunting the ball about to no great effect, expecting a goal to score itself. Perhaps this is some by-product of the fact we seem to concede so easily, indeed often so absurdly, that we can’t understand why other teams aren’t as accommodating.
And Blackburn, though limited, were in no mood to accommodate. Just by being moderately well-organised they were able to shift our attackers, who were seemingly stuck in slow motion, out wide where they crossed to little effect. Alternatively, Blackburn’s defenders opted to hack the ball into touch, from which our corners carried all the threat of flying goldfish. After the match the manager was keen to highlight Arsenal’s previously impeccable record against lower-league sides in the domestic cups, but that is cold comfort having lost twice in the same season to teams with nothing like our resources at their disposal. Perhaps the most chastening thing is I don’t think this game was the worst we’ve played this season. What makes it sting is that this was surely our best chance of silverware. But perhaps even that’s a naïve thing to say. After all, one FA Cup semi-final in seven years tells its own story.
After a decent string of results in the league, each of which was agonisingly tense in its own way, it’s something of a relief to get back to the comparative relief of the cups. Or at least it’s a relief for my hairline, which, thanks to the stress of watching this year’s assault on fourth place, is retreating like Napoleon’s army from Moscow. Injury-wise the squad seems almost unnervingly healthy. The only real question marks are over the captain and young Master Jack. With Bayern looming on the horizon like a particularly efficient storm cloud, I expect both players to miss the Blackburn game.
Which is not to take Steve Kean’s, Henning Berg’s, Michael Appleton’s* men lightly. Our fans will no doubt be emboldened by the 7-1 win over Rovers at the Emirates last season, but perhaps a cautionary note needs sounding to the effect that even that game was 1-1 at the half-hour mark. However, much as the players need to avoid the complacency that has haunted them in too many matches that theoretically they ought to win, there’s no denying: this is a game they ought to win. Perhaps the manager will invoke the still sore memory of Bradford in the League Cup.
If The Arsenal turn up on Saturday, play professionally and work hard, we ought to make it into the next round of the competition which I think most of us look at as the likeliest source of a satisfactory, silvery end to the season. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see The Ox and Gervinho start, both of whom could do with a goal to inject some momentum back into their seasons. It’d also be nice to see Rosicky at some point. Score? 3-0. You know who to blame.
[*Correct at time of writing. But honestly, who even knows?]
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