There is no doubt that the FA Cup represents our most viable chance at a trophy this season. However, with the Bayern Munich game only a few days away, I am pretty sure that Arsene Wenger will be looking to rest a few of our key players against Blackburn. The key is striking a balance between the two matches. On the one hand, of course we want to win the FA Cup. On the other hand, we have to remember that we can qualify for next season’s Champions League by winning it. As ridiculous as it sounds, Chelsea did it last year when they were definitely not the best team in Europe, so there is no reason why we can’t do it too. As long as we are still in the competition, we are in with a shout.
- Arsenal have never been knocked out of the FA Cup by a lower league club under Arsene Wenger.
- This is the 8th time that we have played Blackburn in the FA Cup (W4,L3). Blackburn beat us 1-0 in the competition in 2007 and went on to reach the semi-finals.
- You will all remember when we beat Blackburn 7-1 at the Emirates Stadium last season. However, this was not the biggest win that we have had against the Lancashire club. We beat them 8-0 in the 1932/1933 season.
Given the defensive injuries that are piling up, and that Carl Jenkinson is suspended following his red card against Sunderland, we are left with very limited defensive options. Nacho Monreal is not eligible to play in the Champions League because he is cup tied, so he will almost definitely start. With Jenko suspended, Sagna will probably move back to right-back, with Miquel & Mertesacker in the middle.
My midfield prediction is Diaby, Coquelin & Rosicky, which allows us to rest Arteta, Cazorla & Wilshere. Wilshere may have recovered enough to make it onto the bench, but he will more than likely be rested because Wenger won’t want to take the risk. Coquelin & Diaby can play deeper roles in front of Miquel and Mertesacker, with Rosicky in the CAM position. Aaron Ramsey could play, but I think that Wenger will want him for the Bayern game.
Up front we have Gervinho back from the African Cup of Nations and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, so you can rest Walcott and Podolski. Giroud in the middle. This is not our strongest team by any stretch of the imagination, but it should be enough to get past Blackburn and put us through to the quarter finals.