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Arsenal v Blackburn Rovers


Wilshere: Missing man

Wilshere: Missing man

Arsenal will be looking to avoid any potential slip-ups when they welcome Blackburn to the Emirates Stadium for their FA Cup fifth round clash on Saturday.


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The Gunners are odds-on favourites to progress to the quarter-finals at the expense of their Championship opposition, although the north London giants also have a Champions League last-16 tie against Bayern Munich on Tuesday to think about.

Add to that the absences of influential midfielder Jack Wilshere (dead leg), as well as central defenders Thomas Vermaelen (ankle) and Laurent Koscielny (calf), and Rovers might fancy snatching a famous win this weekend.

Michael Appleton's side are undefeated in their last five in all competitions, while seven points from their last three league matches have taken them to within six points of the play-off places.

Arsene Wenger's men are also undefeated in five outings, though, and currently sit four points behind fourth in the Premier League, while the FA Cup provides the side with one of their most likely sources of a trophy this season.

However, the French tactician might be more inclined to rest some of his key players, keeping one eye firmly on the European Cup - one of the only titles the 63-year-old has not lifted since joining the club in 1996.

That could mean Ignasi Miquel comes into the starting XI this weekend, having been introduced as a substitute in the 1-0 win over Sunderland last time out, while Carl Jenkinson is suspended following his red card in that game.

Players that could find themselves rested this weekend are Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Oliver Giroud, but the Gunners still have plenty of fire power in Abou Diaby, Gervinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tomas Rosicky and Lukas Podolski .

Rovers, meanwhile, will undoubtedly field a full-strength side, while Morten Gamst-Pedersen has been tipped to come in to replace DJ Campbell.

Jake Kean is also set to continue between the sticks, with former England international Paul Robinson having found himself out of favour at Ewood Park.

Posted: 15/02/13 10:31

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