Match Report: Blackpool 0 – 3 Arsenal

Blackpool (0) 0 Arsenal (2) 3
FA Cup Third Round
Bloomfield Road, Seasiders Way, Blackpool FY1 6JJ
Saturday, 5th January 2019. Kick-off time: 5.30pm
(4-2-3-1) Čech; Jenkinson, Lichtsteiner, Sokratis, Kolašinac; Ramsey, Elneny; Willock, Maitland-Niles; Iwobi; Nketiah.
Substitutes: Lacazette, Torreira, Martínez, Guendouzi, Medley, Smith-Rowe, Saka.
Scorers: Willock (2), Iwobi
Yellow Cards: Kolašinac
Referee: Mike Dean
Attendance: 8,895
Back to where we were, then. Another meeting with The Seasiders, on this, the second occasion that we have met in nine weeks; of course today we are meeting at Bloomfield Road, the first time that we have played there since our 3-0 victory in the Premier League on 11th April 2011, when goals from Abou Diaby, Emmanuel Eboue and Robin van Persie ensured our win. Let’s hope for a similar result on this freezing cold Lancastrian evening. We fulfilled our ticket allocation of 5,200 supporters for this game, but sadly due to an ongoing dispute between Blackpool fans and the owner, Bloomfield Road was only just over half full for the match tonight.
Still, in the opening stages, the home side were unlucky not to score when an error by Stephan Lichtsteiner almost led to us being punished, and had it not been for Petr Čech, it could have been disastrous. After ten minutes, a superb free-kick by Aaron Ramsey (can this man really be leaving the club?) saw Joe Willock score his second goal of the season when he headed the ball into the net from the rebound that struck the upright, which appeared to calm the nerves somewhat. A few minutes later, Carl Jenkinson was desperately unlucky not to score with a header from a chip by Alex Iwobi after some penetrating moves by our midfielders. The match now started to pep up with Blackpool finding their way through our defence on several occasions. However, just seven minutes before half-time, Carl Jenkinson pushed a long ball to Alex Iwobi, who passed it back to him on the overlap; Carl Jenkinson crossed the ball to Eddie Nketiah who flicked it on across the face of the goal for young Joe Willock to score his second (and Arsenal’s) of the day. And so we went into the break two clear goals ahead.
New half, new challenges. Blackpool started to test Arsenal’s defence and on several occasions were unlucky not to score. Arsenal started to look sluggish until Alexandre Lacazette replaced Eddie Nketiah after 65 minutes, and it almost seemed as if he single-handedly changed the approach and the attitude of the team as soon as he stepped onto the pitch. With one of our two top strikers on the field, we now started to look confident and assertive, something that we hadn’t done a few minutes earlier. Despite all this, Blackpool too had their chances, and should have taken them better under the circumstances. On one of our breakouts (of which there were many) we managed to get behind their defence and score. Ten minutes before the final whistle, Aaron Ramsey’s shot was parried by the Blackpool goalkeeper, only for the ball to fall into the path of Alex Iwobi, who coolly tapped it into the net. Mr. Emery made two more substitutions (Zech Medley and Bukayo Saka for Sead Kolašinac and Alex Iwobi) within minutes of each other, just to rescue tired legs; as soon as they started to get used to the pace of the match, Mike Dean blew the whistle after four minutes of injury time, and we were now in the fourth round of the FA Cup. Thank God that’s over.
Despite our obvious superiority in all areas, we still had the ability (somehow) to look vulnerable, particularly in the defensive area. No disrespect intended to Blackpool, but there were times when we had to count ourselves very lucky that the home side missed their chances, as if we played a top Premiership side, we may not have been so lucky. All the reserves (and our youth players too) played their part well, and everyone looked good. But we still need defenders, desperately. Twenty-six days and counting until the end of the transfer window. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as these early days are going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Victoria Concordia Crescit.

Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.

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