Championship side take on Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes his side can end an eight-year trophy drought by capturing European club football’s greatest prize if they knock Bayern Munich out of the Champions League.
The Gunners face the German giants in the first leg of their last 16 clash at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday, a match that follows hot on the heels of their FA Cup fifth round tie at home to Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
Bayern lost last season’s Champions League final to Chelsea and are currently 15 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga, having not lost since October 28.
They have also returned from German football’s winter break with four straight league wins.
Arsenal, by contrast, are a massive 21 points adrift of Premier League leaders Manchester United and their defence coninues to look vulnerable.
However, an upbeat Wenger said Friday: “We have a big game on Tuesday against Bayern. If we get past them, then why should we not go further and win it?”
“It looks at the start that (winning) the FA Cup is more reachable than any other competition, but you don’t really know how difficult it will be.
“If you compare it to the Premier League certainly, we have more chances to do it because we are too far away in the Premier League,” added Wenger, looking to bring sileverware to Arsenal for the first time since the north London club won the FA Cup in 2005.
Meanwhile the French manager insisted the excitement generated by their upcoming Champions League tie would mean no loss of concentration for Arsenal in a match against second-tier Rovers that will take the winners into the FA Cup quarter-finals.
“The FA Cup is an important target for us,” said Wenger.
“We always take it very seriously, we’re on a good run and we want to continue the run,” added Wenger, whose side have closed the gap on the Premier League top four after back-to-back victories.
“We are the favourites, they’re the outsiders, and have nothing to lose.
“However, if you look at who is in the squad, many of their players have Premier League experience, that is why they are dangerous.”
Arsenal have fitness concerns over England midfielder Jack Wilshere, who went off at Sunderland last week as a because of concerns over a thigh problem.
Wenger said: “I will not take a risk. (That is because of) the rest of the season in mind and what happened to him before.”
Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen should be back from his ankle problem, but fellow defender Laurent Koscielny (calf) will be assessed.
Meanwhile Gervinho could return to Arsenal duty following the Ivory Coast forward’s time at the Africa Cup of Nations.
“We will play a team who has a good chance to go through with experienced players,” said Wenger. “We only have big names in our squad, so it will be a team of big names, for sure.”
Venue Emirates Stadium, Saturday 3pm
Previous meetings Arsenal 58 Blackburn 30 Draws 31
Referee Mike Dean
This season’s matches 27 Y99, R4, 3.81 cards per game
Subs from Fabianski, Mannone, Arteta, Squillaci, Koscielny, Walcott, Podolski, Wilshere, Coquelin, Arshavin, Cazorla
Doubtful Koscielny (calf), Vermaelen (ankle), Wilshere (thigh)
Injured Gibbs (thigh, Mar)
Suspended Jenkinson (one match)
Form guide WWDWWL
Disciplinary record Y51 R3
Leading scorer Walcott 18
Subs from Robinson, Rekik, Henrique, Nunes, Pedersen, Williamson, Slew, Gomes, R Hanley, Bentley, Júnior
Injured Dunn (calf, 23 Feb), G Hanley (hamstring, Mar), King (hamstring, Mar), Best (knee, Apr), Etuhu (knee, Apr)
Cup-tied Campbell, Morris
Form guide DWWWDL
Disciplinary record Y49 R0
Leading scorer Rhodes 20
• This is the 120th competitive meeting of two clubs that first clashed in 1901. Arsenal have won 58 of the previous 119, and Blackburn 30.
• Arsenal beat Blackburn 3-0 in the semi-finals of the FA Cup in April 2005 and went on to win the competition for the 10th and most recent time.
• Blackburn beat the Gunners 1-0 in the 1928 semi-finals and went on to lift the silverware for the sixth and most recent occasion.
• This is the eighth time they have drawn each other in the competition: Arsenal lead 4-3.
• The clubs last met in the Premier League in February last year, when Arsenal humiliated their Lancashire opponents 7-1 at the Emirates Stadium.
• Arsenal are the second most successful club in FA Cup history, but they have not won a major trophy since this competition eight years ago.
• The Gunners have never been knocked out of the FA Cup by a lower league club in the Arsene Wenger era, and have ended the interest of 28 such clubs since losing to Sheffield United in 1996.
• The North London club have progressed beyond the fifth round in only two of the seven seasons since last lifting the silverware.
• Blackburn are yet to concede a goal in this season’s FA Cup.
• They are one of three Championship clubs trying to eliminate Premier League opposition this weekend, but have been knocked out themselves on the last three occasions they have been drawn against top-flight clubs.
• Victory would make it their most successful run since reaching the semi-finals in 2007.
Arsenal 22/1 to win 5-0: Arsenal vs Blackburn Rovers Betting