Tag Archives: blackpool

Arsenal look to banish Ghost of Nottingham Forest

FA cup 3rd round day 2018. A year ago was when I hit my lowest point mentally as an Arsenal fan.

Walking back from The City Ground to Hooters despondent. The only thing to look forward to from the trip was wings, boobs and beers.

It was an awful performance. The first time since 1996 that The Arsenal had been knocked out of the FA Cup 3rd round. Lost 4-2.

Prior to that defeat, Arsenal had won just 2 of the last 7 league games. 5 wins and 2 draws. The away draw to WBA on New Years Ever especially sticks in my mind.

With just 3 away wins from 11 League games, it was becoming really hard to be motivated to go away, up and down the country, spending my well earned sterling.

Sitting there in Hooters after the game, I was wondering whether I wanted to do it anymore. Keep going away – I spend about £2,500 a year on away games; tickets, transport and drink.

Arsenal would stay in the gutter for some time. Just one more win away in the league on the last day of the season against Huddersfield. It was the shocking second half of the season that led to fans staying away, and ultimately led to Arsene Wenger leaving the club.

I renewed my season ticket, renewed my away scheme, and this year under Unai Emery felt more invigorated to go again.

It has not been plain sailing under the new regime.

There has been a recent wobble in December – the loss to Southampton, thrashing by Liverpool and defeat in the League Cup to Tottenham – but as a whole the Spaniards start has been positive.

FA Cup victories (3 wins in the last 5) have been the only cause of glory for Arsenal fans in the last 12 years. It is probably why that Nottingham Forest defeat hurt so much.

After so much recent success (and historical success) in the tournament, to be exiting in January gave little to hope for in the rest of the season. It was the first of many killer blows.

Today we travel to Blackpool. Due to the trains I am not making the journey (so soon after Christmas and New Year, I have no interest in a hotel stay in cold, wet Blackpool).

Having beaten Blackpool already once this season, hopefully we return to winning ways in the FA Cup.

As we learnt against Nottingham Forest last season, you can not take victory for granted. Even if Amazing Bet are offering 1/14 for The Arsenal to qualify. But I am positive. Both about today and where Arsenal are going.

Fans need to ignore what is happening in the background at the club. We might not look to spend a lot in January. We are looking for the right players at the right place. We do not need to panic buy. We could have over £100m to spend this summer, once we sell one or two, it is important we do not dip into that for a 6 month short term solution.

I expect Emery to ring in the changes. A mixture of first teamers and reserve players. The likes of Konstantinos Mavropanos  will get a start. Eddie Nketiah up top.

Predicted XI:

Cech

AMN Sokratis Mavropanos Jenkinson

Elneny Torreira

SmithRowe Ramsey Saka

Nketiah

Keenos

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Tottenham, Manchester United and the FA Cup

I am still coming down from yesterday.

Having taken yesterday off work, I strolled in today do 100 questions from colleagues as to how was the game and Arsenal were brilliant.

This time of year the games come thick and fast, and this week we have a mid-week games. Tomorrow it is another huge test with Manchester United away.

Arsene Wenger’s demise was defined by a lack of victories on the road to top teams. Unai Emery has a good chance to chalk up his first 3 points against United.

Jose Mourinho’s team are in total disarray. They are in 7th place, 16 points off top – last season they finished 19 points off Manchester City.

Whilst I am confident about tomorrow, I am also aware that Manchester United – and Jose Mourinho – often raise their game against Arsenal.

Our player of the season this season has been Lucas Torreira. Mourinho will employ the very basic tactic of sticking Marouane Fellaini as a number 10 and hitting him with high balls. Torreira will have no chance and United will then battle for the knock downs.

It is a basic tactic, but one which could work. Especially as we are without Granit Xhaka who misses his first Premier League game since the 2016/17 season.

The big news yesterday was the draw for the Emirates FA Cup third round. Arsenal will travel to either Solihull Moors or Blackpool.

We will find out our opposition for the match on December 11, when Solihull travel to Bloomfield Road for a second-round replay, after the sides drew 0-0 at the weekend.

Solihull Moors, managed by former England goal keeper Tim Flowers, play at Damson Park on the outskirts of Birmingham. With a capacity of just over 3,000, it is likely the fixture will get moved. Gander Green Lane (the home of Sutton United) held over 5,000 when we played them a few years back.

If the fixture is not moved, Arsenal will receive about 450 tickets. It will mean a ballot of the away scheme.

We played Blackpool at home earlier this season when we beat them 2-1 in the Carabao Cup fourth round on Halloween.

An away trip to them would be a good old day, as long as it is not ruined by TV. The last train back to London is at 19:32 via Preston. Easily Makeable if we are Saturday 3pm. But if it is moved to the 17:30 kick off time, it will be impossible to make it home.

On the Sunday we have planned engineering works. That means bus replacement services and 5+ hour journey times.

Friday and Monday would be a day off work and not getting back until the next day.

A night out in Blackpool would not be too bad, if it was not just a couple of weeks after Christmas and New Year.

Hopefully the TV companies take into account the travelling fans. They often point out that the FA Cup is dying, but football without fans is nothing. The TV companies are part of the problem.

So it is a case of cracking through today at work, before settling in to enjoy the game against Manchester United tomorrow.

Keenos

Youngsters to get chance against Blackpool

Arsenal will look to extend their unbeaten run to 13 against Blackpool tonight.

After the 11 game winning run turned into 12 unbeaten at the weekend against Crystal Palace, Unai Emery is expected to ring in the changes.

Against Palace, a few players looked tired. It was a lethargic performance. One which came from 3 games in 7 days, and Arsenal having played a European away barely 60 hours previous.

Arsenal beat Brentford in the previous round of the League Cup with a surprisingly strong team. With Liverpool in the Premier League coming up on Saturday, it is expected that Emery will rotate with his squad, with very few playing against Blackpool who will be in line to start against Liverpool.

Petr Cech will return to the side in replace for Bernd Leno – the German has solidified his position as Arsenal’s number one in recent weeks.

Right back will be interesting. Hector Bellerin is currently struggling with a muscle injury; so it is not expected that Stephan Lichtsteiner will be risked. This could see a return in a first team Arsenal shirt for Carl Jenkinson.

Sokratis will be one of the few to start against both Blackpool and Liverpool; having missed out on the Crystal Palace game.

Alongside him will either be Shkodran Mustafi or Rob Holding. My bet is Holding as I think Emery will go for the experience of Mustafi and Sokratis at the weekend.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles is likely to return to the side at left back following a length lay off. With Nabhco Monreal and Saed Kolasinac still sidelined with niggles, neither will be risks. All 3 would then be in contention for the game against Liverpool.

The League Cup will be the only competition Mohamed Elneny will be given a consistent run out in this season. I expect him to be alongside Matteo Guendouzi in the middle of the park. The teenage Frenchman is likely to make way for the Lucas Torreira / Granit Xhaka partnership on Saturday.

Having found himself out of Emery’s plans in recent weeks, Aaron Ramsey will play as the furthest midfielder forward.

Emile Smith Rowe will play on one flank, continuing his progress in the team.

The other wing position and upfront could depend on who Emery wants to give a chance too.

It is a fight between Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah, with Danny Welbeck filling the other position. I expect Nketiah to be up top, and Welbeck on the wing.

Keenos