Arsenal got the crucial and hard fought win they needed at Sunderland, and answered a lot of critics at the same time. It would have been nice if Chelsea or Tottenham dropped points, and they both came close, but at least we didn’t lose any ground and can now put the pressure of the league aside for a week or so and focus on staying in the two cup competitions.
These bring their own different pressures, but they are more isolated occasions, and will provide different challenges. The Gunners are big favourites in the FA cup and heavy underdogs in the Champions league, but Arsenal have proved to be unpredictable this season so you never know what might happen.
On Saturday, Blackburn come to the Emirates hoping to get through to the last eight in the FA cup. They are on a good run of form in the championship, having won their last three games. They are just four points away from a play off spot, and that may be their main focus as they are desperate to get back to the Premier league.
They have a strong team with plenty of Premier league experience so they won’t be overawed coming to the Emirates. They also have a striker in form. Their £8 million record signing Jordan Rhodes has scored seven goals in six consecutive games. I very much doubt that Arsenal will take the game for granted, we learnt our lesson at Bradford, so it should be a good game which could bring us one step closer to that elusive trophy.
With the first leg of the Champions league against Bayern Munich just three days later, Arsene Wenger may be tempted to rest a few players, but I hope he doesn’t. The FA cup is by far the best chance we have of picking up some silverware and that should be of paramount importance. We should get Rovers out of the way and then see what we can do against the Germans. There is no point worrying too much about Bayern, and an FA cup win will further boost the team’s confidence.