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Allardyce headache ahead of Arsenal's trip to Blackburn

PUBLISHED: 14:00 27 August 2010 | UPDATED: 11:10 14 October 2010

BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - AUGUST 14:  Nikola Kalinic of Blackburn Rovers scores the first goal past Tim Howard of Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between Blackburn Rovers and Everton at Ewood Park on August 14, 2010 in Blackburn, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - AUGUST 14: Nikola Kalinic of Blackburn Rovers scores the first goal past Tim Howard of Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between Blackburn Rovers and Everton at Ewood Park on August 14, 2010 in Blackburn, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

2010 Getty Images

IF Blackburn Rovers become the latest Premier League club subject to a multi-million pound takeover this season, it may well be in the nick of time for manager Sam

Allardyce. Rovers confirmed last week that they are in talks over a deal potentially worth

IF Blackburn Rovers become the latest Premier League club subject to a multi-million pound takeover this season, it may well be in the nick of time for manager Sam

Allardyce.

Rovers confirmed last week that they are in talks over a deal potentially worth £300million with Indian businessman Ahasan Ali Syed, with up to £100m reported to be made available to Allardyce in time for the January transfer window.

Such a deal would, of course, transform Blackburn's ambition for the season, yet Allardyce has cut a frustrated figure in recent weeks as he struggles to cope with a striker crisis that threatens to undermine the Ewood Park club's season before any such takeover can take place.

Rovers currently have only Nikola Kalinic, Manchester United loanee Mame Biram Diouf and Jason Roberts to occupy the forward positions and, having slapped a £1m price tag on want-away Roberts, Allardyce may soon be down to the bare bones.

It is a problem which cost Rovers dear in their 2-1 defeat at Birmingham at the weekend, as some profligate finishing saw them throw away the points after leading at St Andrews.

A game against free-scoring Arsenal is hardly the tonic Allardyce would have been searching for then. For once, a trip to the north-west looks less than daunting for the Gunners.

Rovers can at least call upon a goalkeeper in form, with Paul Robinson impressing in the opening games of the season after choosing to retire from Fabio Capello's England set-up earlier this month.

Robinson will play behind a stout defence including veteran Ryan Nelson and Spaniard Michel Salgado. The back line is spiced up with some promising emerging youngsters, such as 18-year-old centre-back Phil Jones, and Swede Martin Olsson at left-back.

In midfield, Blackburn's fortunes may well rest on the shoulders of the re-born David Dunn, who chipped in with nine league goals last season - eight of which came in matches Rovers won.

Somewhat harshly nicknamed the 'Fat Controller' by sections of Blackburn fans, Dunn is at the heart of the Rovers engine room.

But Dunn aside, Blackburn were much-maligned for a damaging lack of creativity last season. Morten Gamst Pedersen, despite a hammer of a left foot, has suffered an alarming dip in form in recent seasons.

He and Steven N'Zonzi are both likely to start against Arsenal. Both were regulars during 2009/10, but managed a paltry five league goals between them.

El Hadji Diouf brings little to the goalscoring party - three goals last season tells its own story - so for the opening months of the season at least it will be down to Croatia international Kalinic to supply the goals, and he will be looking to add to his well-taken opening strike of the season against Everton.

Reputations stick in football, and Blackburn have long established themselves as Arsenal's bogey side, their well-documented physical approach far too often shunting the Gunners aside.

But with no muscular target man to aim for this season, Rovers may well have to ditch their usual style and actually play some football - and that is where Arsenal can capitalise.

Reputations can also be deceptive and, somewhat surprisingly, last season's 2-1 win for Rovers was only the third time since the turn of the millennium that the Lancashire side have defeated Arsenal at Ewood Park, with Arsenal triumphing five times from 10 visits.

Arsenal's battling point at Liverpool on the opening day suggests they are a tougher proposition, both physically and mentally, on the road this season, and they should have more than enough in their armoury to defeat Blackburn.

Gazette predicts:

Blackburn Rovers 1 Arsenal 3


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