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On the back of two devastating and demoralising defeats, Arsenal go into Sunday’s game against their North London rivals under huge amounts of pressure. Serious questions are being asked about the future of Arsenal, and Arsene, as well as several of our biggest players, and these questions will only get louder and louder if Arsenal suffer the ignominy of another defeat against Spurs.

The Changing Tide

I have been saying for years that the day Spurs finish above Arsenal, is the day that Wenger should respectfully, step aside. Even only two seasons ago, I could never see that happening. But as quickly as Redknapp has got Spurs playing some of the most attractive football in the country (and even the bitterest Gunner cannot secretly admire Spurs’ attacking flair), so have Arsenal taken a massive step backwards.

This trend is reflected in recent results against Spurs. Whereas Wenger lost only one game against Spurs in his first 14 seasons ( a 2-1 defeat in 1999), Arsenal have now only won once in the last seven league meetings, with their most recent victory being courtesy of a Van Persie inspired 3-0 drubbing in 2009.

Arsenal also come into this game in the unnatural position of being 10 points Spurs – in 28 of the 32 derbies since Wenger arrived, Arsenal have gone into this game above Spurs in the table.

SunderlandArsenal will be looking to recover from the massacre they received at AC Milan, after being blown away 4-0 on Wednesday night in the first leg of the Last 16 of the Champions League.

Sunderland, meanwhile, haven't been in action since they faced the gunners last weekend in the Premier League. Arsenal did win it on the day, with late strikes from Aaron Ramsey and Thierry Henry gifting them a 2-1 victory. That win, combined with October's 2-1 triumph over the black cats, gave Arsenal their first Premier League double over Sunderland since the 2007/2008 season, when Arsenal won 3-2 at home and 1-0 away.

The gunners will now be looking for a third victory this season over Sunderland, which will take them into the quarterfinals of the FA Cup.

Different Mindset

This, however, is a completely different game with a completely different mindset for both teams. Last Saturday, Martin O'Neill's Sunderland seemed to settle for a draw from the moment the first whistle was blown, and understandably so. They had an extremely tiring Wednesday night FA Cup derby match versus Middlesbrough that went into extra time, and named virtually the same XI that featured in that game.

Blackburn Rovers crest

Arsenal’s hopes of recuperating their form in the Premier League by coming from behind to beat Aston Villa in the FA Cup were halted as Arsene Wenger’s men failed to achieve more than a goalless draw at Reebok Stadium against Bolton Wanderers. With only a single point from the last twelve possible in the league, Arsenal find themselves in seventh place before Blackburn visit the Emirates Stadium.

Wenger has come under scrutiny from Arsenal’s supporters lately after a lack of transfers combined with a trophy drought and a current seventh-placed team have seen many faithful lose patience with the weathered French manager. Some Arsenal fans are seeing this weekend’s home game against Blackburn Rovers as the ideal time to signal their discontent with the current board and backroom staff by putting black bin bags over the empty chairs around the stadium to emphasize the failing attendance.

To the other side of the fourth official this Saturday, Steve Kean – a man who faced similar actions from Blackburn’s supporters – has managed to start an uplift in his club’s form. However, Kean has lost the patience of his captain, Christopher Samba, after the Congolese defender saw his hopes of a January move away from the club blocked by his manager, and he effectively refuses to play against Arsenal.

Despite the current displeasure among Arsenal’s supporters, Arsenal have only lost two and drawn two matches at home this season and are facing a Blackburn side who have only won ones away from Ewood Park this season at the same time as they have failed to keep a single clean sheet; and the Arsenal faithful may well leave the stadium with smiles galore when the full-time whistle blows on Saturday.

Arsenal will look to avoid a fourth successive defeat in league play as they take on a Bolton side who has found their form in the month of January. Both sides are coming off victories in their F.A. Cup ties played over the weekend, and both will look to continue those winning ways.

The match takes place at the Reebok stadium which has been known to prove a difficult place for the Gunners to win. But so far this season it is Bolton who is having trouble picking up points at home, having only collected a total of 7 points from a possible 33.

Latest Team News

Arsenal: Sunday’s match saw some key Arsenal players make their return from injury. Mikel Arteta, Francis Coquelin, and Bacary Sagna all made their way back onto the pitch following spells on the sidelines. The return of Bacary Sagna will prove be the most important as it will finally provide stability at the right back position.

Jack Wilshere did suffer a setback on his road to recovery from the ankle injury and will miss the rest of the season.