Blackpool Preview: Up For The Cup?

The final whistle signalled the orderly march to the exits. Breath weaved its way skyward, mingling with tobacco, Bovril and occasional other aromas. Waves of red and white rode a sea of grey, black and blue, huddled against the cold. In the aisle, oceans collided as heads craned, seagulls cawing against the backdrop of Sports Report. Had Altrincham really held Everton? Walsall, Manchester United? Bloody hell! (Non-league) Wimbledon beat Burnley?!

It was a magical time, a Golden Age; a legacy carelessly spurned by the Football Association. The romance of the cup stood no chance against the merciless marketing of the Premier League and UEFA’s rapacious Champions League. Too little reward, too much arrogance. It was the FA Cup; the world’s best domestic cup competition. Parochialism in a global game.

Technology doesn’t help. Monday lunchtimes spent huddled around a transistor to hear the draw. Bryon Jones authoritative tones took us to Lancaster Gate, FA headquarters as the BBC took us through the corridors into a smoke-filled room. The balls clacking in their velvet bag could be an effect from the BBC Sound Archive but we didn’t care. Didn’t even think of it; conspiracy theories were the stuff of dinner table talk. After removing tin foil hats; the second gunman possessed table manners.

But the magic of the FA Cup is different now. Everything is; the world moved on. Diminishing relevance, from the willingness of managers to field much-weakened teams with little care of the consequences to the fans who sat by idly watching it happen. When more money can be won by finishing fourth than winning a trophy, the financiers won and fans lost the battle for the soul of football.

Oh, I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside

Unless travelling by train, of course. A smattering of tickets offered on social media pointed out the futility of trying to travel by public transport to this evening’s game. Television doesn’t care and you’re waiting for Godot if you think that is going to change.

Or a man who rang a pizza company to order a fleet of ferry.

Unai Emery takes Arsenal to Blackpool in a tie which resonates with FA Cup history while underlining the devastation wrought by unchecked ownership of clubs.

Heed the lessons of Blackpool when an asset-stripper takes charge of a club.

In the meantime, a much-changed XI highlights the Spaniard’s priorities for the season:

We are going to be competitive. The priority is the next match, and that’s Blackpool. I am going to play with the players to be competitive. If we need some young players to do one mix, but finding this power to be stronger with them, we will do it. The priority now is Blackpool.

Plenty won’t be making the trip, however:

Continuing with his injury and not OK to train with us is Mustafi, he has to recover from his small injury and continue working alone. Bellerin and Nacho Monreal, Mkhitaryan and also Mesut didn’t train this morning.

To be honest, Ozil is the only one of those whom I would push to include. The German needs to be play to ease pressure on the rest of the squad in an attacking sense. Nketiah seems likely to start with Lacazette or Aubameyang leading the line.

Is it a game to break in young defenders? Sokratis, Koscielny and Zech Medley? Keep Lichtsteiner on the right, Jenkinson on the left; as close as possible to their natural positions and the Swiss as far away from a central defensive role as possible.

And Today’s Mystery Guests Are:

Saka and Willock, alongside Elneny in midfield? The guessing games continue and depend on fitness of others. A relative youngster in Iwobi is surely capable of playing against Fulham and today, if needed.

The XI I’d go with is not the one which will play, of course. I’ve talked myself into:

Cech; Medley, Koscielny, Sokratis; Lichtsteiner, Elneny, Willock, Jenkinson; Saka, Lacazette, Nketiah

It’s the FA Cup third round, a great day in the English footballing calendar. If that moment doesn’t set the pulses racing, remember Arsenal’s (in)glorious pasts with the FA Cup. The good times and the bad which form the rich fabric of the club. If you can’t do that, then there’s no hope for you.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

49 thoughts on “Blackpool Preview: Up For The Cup?

  1. Thanks Yogi!

    What about:

    Cech
    Lichtsteiner—-Kos—-Medley—-Jenk
    Willock—-Elneny—–Guendouzi
    Saka—-Nketiah—–Smith-Rowe

  2. Lovely piece, YW. You conjure up a lovely image.

    All memory now. The only romance left to us in the game.

  3. A bit of a compare and contrast. Memories I don’t want to let go of while Blackpool’s fate is the one I fear in a dystopian future.

  4. I really don’t care much for the money men, I still rate the FA cup and look forward to it….Perhaps I’m a relic from the past.

  5. Clubs used to get fined for playing a weakened side in the cup didn’t they? I wonder when that fell by the wayside.

    I guess the FA Cup lost it’s lustre around the same time football became primarily a business rather than a sport. What we need is a financial meltdown to send Stan and the like scurrying for the hills.

  6. Awesome preview yogi.

    The starting line up will depend on how seriously we want to win the game. We need either Lacazette or pea in the line up or we risk getting shut out. No reason to sit Iwobe. If we are ever going to use Ozil this would be the game since he is no longer makes the bench in league games. It would be a chance for him to pad his stats.

  7. Surprise you didn’t mention Emery seemingly telling Cech, right this is your last season.

    Sources say we are close to signing Denis Suarez from Barca…I certainly think that is a top quality signing. Just think, last time Emery said he wanted to keep a player and then changed his mind was Jack which turned intoooooookko Torriera!

  8. C

    I assumed it was Cech’s last season anyway. His contract is up in the summer and no talks started yet? That’s as clear a ‘don’t let the door hit you on the arse on the way out’ as a player can get.

    I do hope, however, Suarez is being signed as a midfielder not a goalkeeper!

  9. YW,

    Yup, it just refreshing to have a manager speak truthful about players to the supporters. I think Martinez or Macey(who has been getting top reviews) on loan would do well next season as our CC and FA Cup GK.

  10. YW,

    Suarez definitely being signed as a midfielder, Ramsey replacement. Fancy if Suarez comes then Ramsey is off especially since Suarez knows Emery’s system having absolutely FLOURISHED and becoming the top player he is before his move to Barca.

  11. Reports say Arsenal team bus stuck at hotel as Blackpool supporters are protesting their owners by stopping Arsenal going to the match.

  12. Cech
    Lichtsteiner—-Sokaritis—Kos–Sead
    Elneny—-Maitland-Niles—Ramsey
    Willock—Nketiah—Iwobi

    Subs: Martinez, Jenks, MEdley, Torriera, Guendouzi, Saka, Lacazette

  13. A Happy New Year to Everyone.
    Great post YW.

    When Liverpool can get 19 million for D Solanki and Arsenal get ought – nada – rien Pour A Ramsey it tells you All You need to know about the current state at Arsenal.

    D Suarez is a décent player. Can he do a job at Arsenal? We must wait and see.

    I think that the Investment in our defence since 2006 has been nothing short of criminal . I can’t personally recall a time since then where We can truly honestly say that their has been a défense that has instilled any confidence at all.

    Can you think of a defence under Wenger that was good pre 2006?

  14. First 14 minutes suggest we should (a) win easily and (b) get a good look at the youngsters / occasionals. But the AFC defensive banana skin mascot has no doubt travelled north in the bus with this team.

  15. High energy, high intensity stuff so far. We could have had 3 by now if Nketiah had settled quickly.

  16. C,

    One thing Willock, AMN, Nketiah share that Ramsey – for all his skill – lacks, is speed of reaction and decision-making once on the ball or near it.

  17. Credit to Emery. He’s got this makeshift team firing together from the off, which is pretty un-Arsenal, let’s face it. Their work rate has been exceptional – you sense a real hunger to win this.

  18. WTF! Sead blatantly wrestles their forward on the move when nowhere near the penalty area – Yellow. A bad habit lurking their from his early days of playing, I’m guessing. I hope Emery and team hyponotise him out of it – and smartly.

  19. C:
    Stand out performances so far have to be Willock and Nketiah
    Agreed. I would put Jenks and Iwobi close behind them. Elneny as been sound as well.

  20. When I saw the line up I was wondering who might score but full credit to Willock. I guess he now leapfrogs Smith-Rowe and Nketiah as the most heavily hyped of our potential homegrown superstars.

    Our defense has looked disjointed at times but fortunately they are not very good. It would nice to keep a clean sheet.

  21. A good win + clean sheet + plenty for Emery to observe and learn from + some lively new combinations getting a run out.

  22. 3rd goal was markedly off side.

    I felt we were very lucky to keep a clean sheet.

    Willlock had a good game, as did AMN and several others.

    Ramsey is just too slow, mentally and physically. The tricks and flicks are jerky and inelegant. I’d be very surprised if the Juve move actually happened.

    There were times in the game that I thought we were dire, too much stopping and passing around the back like we were on a Sunday stroll.

    Some good stuff, but a lot of shit to go with it IMO.

  23. MikeSA,

    Very true about Ramsey, I noticed this against Chelsea 3 years ago or thereabouts, at the halfway line with pressure on him, he dithered until he passed the ball all the way back to the keeper. Ever since then I’ve noted his slow decisions in midfield and it’s not very encouraging for a player in the middle of the park.

  24. MikeSA,

    I think the Juve move for Ramsey will happen for sure, the thing, honestly, not sure where he fits as he isn’t getting in head of Pjanic, Matuidi, Bentacur or Khederia.

    Anyways, he did play a couple good passes and overall the team played well. Willock, Maitland-Niles and Nketiah again prove they have talent and with instructions and a clear role can thrive with more experienced player.

  25. Emery speaks on transfers:

    “I don’t know,” said Emery, when asked how close a deal was for Suarez. “I think the club is working for the possibility to take some players who can help us during these next four months.

    “Maybe the transfer market can help us with a centre-back, but it is not easy because also [Konstantinos] Mavropanos is also coming back after injury.

    “Also a winger, right or left, one player can help us in this position.”

  26. We need an attacking/creative midfielder since none of Ramsey Ozil and Mkhitaryan are the short or long term answer and we need a wide forward. However we are scoring enough goals and urgent problem is defense. I think CB is the most critical position to strengthen.

  27. C:
    Noon Gunner,

    Nkrtiah didn’t score today C…don’t state everything as fact.

    C:
    Noon Gunner,

    Yup, Nketiah will score today.

    My god, you would think our defense would be better but we are lacking.

    Yup, Nketiah will score today.

    My god, you would think our defense would be better but we are lacking.

  28. Jonnygunner,

    Late post JG 😬
    Happy new year everyone. Btw. Bin off pissed /te

    C loves delivering facts.We just have to accept they are ever changing ones. But his theme is constant. … “Kill Bill”. Joy de vi rodders.

    As quoted by C last night, and then rather unsettlingly supported by Bill, Emery seems to have shown his shopping list priorities of, Enforcer/ team defender, CB if better than what we’ve got coming …. 😂😂😂….. and a winger might help.

    No names confirmed, so carteblanche for the dyno Duo to wheel et deal.

    Off to the iPlayer for me now. Anything I should avoid 🙈.?

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