MX23RW : Saturday, April 20 01:47:43| >> :600:9017866:9017866:
Jan 5, 2019 at 5.30pm UK at ​Bloomfield Road
Attendance: 8,955
FT(HT: 0-2)
Willock (11', 37'), Iwobi (82')

Preview: Blackpool vs. Arsenal - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Saturday's FA Cup tie between Blackpool and Arsenal.

Arsenal make the trip to Bloomfield Road to face Blackpool in the FA Cup third round looking to move a step closer to winning this competition for the fourth time in six attempts.

Blackpool currently sit in 10th place in the League One standings, but the Seasiders are no strangers to the Gunners, with the teams having already faced each other in this season's EFL Cup.


Blackpool manager Terry McPhillips pictured on October 31, 2018© Reuters

Blackpool will have few complaints with their second season back in League One, with the club safely in mid-table at the third tier and runs in both the EFL Cup and FA Cup having improved their finances.

However, five games without a league win has resulted in Blackpool losing all of their earlier momentum, and the meeting with Arsenal comes at a time when they need to recreate a buzz around the club.

Terry McPhillips is in his first senior managerial role and deserves huge amounts of credit for how he has kept the club heading in the right direction having been thrown into the job during the opening week of the campaign, but the current run is his worst since his appointment.

There will be no pressure to achieve a result against a team of Arsenal's stature, but there will be a desire to lift the mood ahead of a run of important fixtures in League One.

Games against Portsmouth, Coventry City and Accrington Stanley could have a huge bearing on the remainder of Blackpool's season, with 10 points already separating them and sixth-placed Doncaster Rovers.

The main positive from the last six fixtures is that Blackpool remain strong defensively, with no more than two goals being conceded in a single match since November 3.

Goals are still a problem with no player having scored more than five times in the league this season, but Blackpool are at least staying competitive in each match that they play.

Achieving anything on Saturday evening will be a tall order but if Blackpool can find an early goal against an out-of-form Arsenal backline, they may have the resilience to cause one of the biggest shocks in this competition in recent years.

Recent form (all competitions): LWLLDL


Unai Emery points a finger during the Premier League game between Arsenal and Manchester City on August 12, 2018© Reuters

Unai Emery would have spent much of the opening period of the season wondering how his side will react to the end of their long-standing unbeaten streak in all competitions, and there would have been a fear that one defeat would lead to others.

That has proven to be the case with three being suffered in six outings, and although Arsenal returned to winning ways with victory over Fulham on New Year's Day, Emery is aware that he has work to do in order to get his team back on track.

The Spaniard has not been helped with injuries - especially in defence - but there is a vulnerability about Arsenal heading into 2019 and that had not been the case earlier in the season.

The Gunners have only kept clean sheets against Vorskla, Huddersfield Town and Qarabag since November 11, and recording positive results will continue to be a problem until that issue is solved.

Emery will take the chance to rest a number of his main men at the back for the game at Bloomfield Road, but he will at least want to see that he has options available to him should the more experienced members of his squad continue to underperform.

Arsenal have maintained a superb record in front of goal throughout the season, but Emery is still to find a place for Mesut Ozil and that will be of pressing concern with the German said to be keen on remaining at the club.

Ozil would usually be left out of the squad for a game against a lower-league side, but the playmaker may be given the opportunity to show his leadership qualities should he have recovered from a minor injury.

This competition may not be considered as important as the Premier League or Europa League, but Emery will still want it as an option to develop his squad and that includes keeping Ozil match-fit for when he is required later in the campaign.

Recent form (all competitions): LLWDLW

Team News

Eddie Nketiah in action for Arsenal in the Europa League on November 2, 2017© Reuters

Emery must make a judgement call on Ozil with the German nearing a return from injury, although the 31-year-old could be left among the replacements.

Eddie Nketiah may start in attack, but Alexandre Lacazette could be used on the left flank having been substituted during the second half against Fulham.

Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira are likely to be handed a rest, leaving Mohamed Elneny and Matteo Guendouzi to take their places in the middle of the pitch.

The game could come too early for Konstantinos Mavropanos, meaning that Sokratis Papastathopoulous and Laurent Koscielny could start at centre-back.

Petr Cech should feature in goal, with the substitutes' bench mainly being made up of the younger players who have featured in the Europa League.

Blackpool will likely operate with a 4-5-1 formation against the Premier League giants with Armand Gnanduillet leading the line.

Former Liverpool midfielder Jay Spearing brings experience to the team, but Jordan Thompson is missing due to suspension.

Blackpool possible starting lineup:
Howard; Nottingham, O'Connor, Heneghan, Bola; Feeney, Turton, Spearing, Guy, Delfouneso; Gnanduillet

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Cech; Jenkinson, Sokratis, Koscielny, Lichtsteiner; Elneny, Guendouzi; Iwobi, Ramsey, Lacazette; Nketiah

Head To Head

Saturday's match will represent the 84th competitive meeting between the two clubs, with Arsenal registering 44 wins in comparison to 15 victories for Blackpool.

The teams have only met on four occasions since 1976, and Arsenal have scored 14 times in prevailing in each of those encounters.

However, Arsenal only recorded a hard-fought 2-1 win over Blackpool at the Emirates Stadium when the teams met in the EFL Cup at the end of October.

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We say: Blackpool 1-3 Arsenal

Arsenal will rest a number of their star men for the trip to the North-West of England, but that should not hinder their efforts to register a routine win. Blackpool competed well against their more illustrious opponents in the EFL Cup, but Emery will now know much more about the third-tier outfit ahead of this game.

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Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring against Burnley on December 22, 2018
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