Blackpool 0 – 3 Arsenal
Pitches; I forgot them in yesterday’s post but thanks to Blackpool, memories came flooding back of how they were great levellers in the FA Cup third round of yesteryear. Not that the Lancashire club served up a true cup pitch. Back in the 70s, they were quagmires and sandtraps, sometimes both. Yesterday was just a ploughed field similar to the San Siro all those years ago.
But Arsenal made short work of it with a Chris Willock brace and Alex Iwobi making the crucial difference, much to the annoyance of the BT commentary team. McMahnamahna seemed particularly bored after 20 minutes when it became clear the gulf between the two sides wasn’t going to be breached.
No need for the hotch-potch side to get out of second gear, despite losing Laurent Koscielny during the warm-up. Unai Emery shifted Lichtsteiner into the centre of defence and Jenkinson on the right. Blackpool rarely tested the makeshift-makeshift defence.
A hat-tip to Joe Willock whose two goals settled the tie before half-time. Both resulted from following the ball rather than reacting.
The first followed a deflected Aaron Ramsey free-kick; Willock reacted quickest as the ball cannoned back off the post. An excellent set-piece from the Welshman and a calm head from the youngster.
How Eddie Nketiah must wish for such calmness. On another day, if the potential lives up to the hype, he could have a hat-trick. This juror is still unconvinced that he is the next Campbell rather than Afobe or Aneki.
Willock’s second was a thing of beauty. The move began at the back and built down the right, ending with Jenkinson’s fine low cross being flicked goalward by Nketiah with Willock arriving at the far post. 2 – 0; job done and not out of second gear.
You Can’t Sit On The Top Deck Without Paying A Fare
And that’s really the story of the game. The tie was dealt with efficiently, on the pitch and off where the Blackpool protester found himself sitting atop the team coach while the club procured a new vehicle.
Alex Iwobi broke the offside trap by being offside for the third, grateful that no VAR presence spotted him. Quite why the lino didn’t is not clear; perhaps his street shoes slipped on the turf and he couldn’t keep up with play?
Inevitably, focus in the press conference on the match was limited; it’s the transfer window and we’re apparently in talks with Barcelona over Denis Suarez. The Spaniard is, depending on whom you talk to, a world-beater or a Barcelona reject. Not that they are mutually exclusive terms, you understand although the latter is used vituperatively.
Unai Emery wants a “central defender and winger” as well as Aaron Ramsey staying until the summer or another player is signed, whichever is soonest.
He was cautious about a centre-back, however. “The possibility to bring them in is not easy because we also have Mavropanos coming back from injury,” Emery said. Koscielny’s back injury points to the problems he faces as much as Mustafi’s absence is
That really is the story of our day at the seaside. It’s impossible to read anything into the collective performance since it isn’t an XI which is likely to play together much and certainly not in the business end of any competition.
Individually, we didn’t get out of second gear but nobody played badly. Willock gains the plaudits for the goals and Nketiah worked hard with little reward. Nobody exceeded expectations but none fell below them.
It was a good day all-round.