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Arsenal v Blackburn | Opta Stats Preview

Arsenal will look to pick up their form against the struggling Blackburn Rovers on Saturday after failing to gain ground on 4th place with a 0-0 draw at Bolton mid-week. Earlier in the season, Blackburn shocked the Gunners with a 4-3 victory courtesy of a Yakubu brace against a faltering Gunners, and Steve Kean will be looking at Saturday’s game hoping of a repeat of his team’s performance. Fans of Arsenal will be pleased to hear the suspended Yakubu and wantaway Samba will miss the trip to the Emirates, along with Ryan Nelsen who was offloaded to Tottenham in the January window.

In the game between the two sides earlier in the season, Arsenal dominated Blackburn but managed to shoot themselves in the foot with two own goals. Arsenal also gave away possession 17 times in that match, compared to Blackburn’s 3 times, showing that a pressing game can put Arsenal off their rhythm as many teams know. However, with Samba and Yakubu missing for the upcoming fixture, Blackburn should have a struggle on their hands. In the 4-3 victory, Samba won 8 possession duels and 3 aerial battles, along with two interceptions and was only dribbled past once. The imposing defender’s presence will surely be missed attacking wise as he was causing trouble in the box when Arsenal conceded the two own goals.

The return of Bacary Sagna to the Arsenal line-up is vital to the rest of Arsenal’s season. In the 4-3 defeat, Johan Djourou was run ragged by the impressive Hoilett and Olsson, which is unlikely to happen to Sagna. His importance to the team, both offensively and defensively cannot be underestimated.

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His stats are up there with some of the impressive right-backs this season such as Micah Richards, however a comparison is tough due to the fact Sagna has missed so many games. One need only look at the number of interceptions he makes, a vital component of the Arsenal defence as it allows the team to launch attacks quickly. His presence should also bring back the threatening Walcott that had emerged for a short time earlier in the season.

We’ll leave you with some of the passing stats from the game earlier in the season via our new Quick Stats area which is available to all to subscribe to: Subscribe Now!

Alex Johnston
Alex Johnston
Disciple of Bergkamp
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