Arsenal will be aiming to return to winning ways when they host Blackpool at the Emirates in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday.
The English League Cup, known as the Carabao Cup these days, is back this midweek with the fourth round. And, Arsenal will be looking to continue their progress under Unai Emery when they return to cup action against Blackpool at the Emirates on Wednesday night.
Arsenal progressed to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup following a largely comfortable 3-1 win over Brentford in the third round. Blackpool, on the other hand, have had to win their ties in the first three rounds to make it the latest stage, with their most recent win coming over QPR last month.
As far as recent form is concerned, Arsenal haven’t lost a game since August, although their splendid 11-match winning run was brought to a halt this past weekend at Crystal Palace, when they were held to a 2-2 draw. Blackpool, on the other hand, have managed to win just two of their last six games and are languishing at 12th on the League One table.
Arsenal were comfortable 6-0 victors the last time they hosted Blackpool at the Emirates, back in the 2010-11 season. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the Carabao Cup encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Unai Emery has a major defensive crisis on his hands, with as many as five defenders in the treatment room. In particular, the full-back slots are major bones of contention for the Arsenal boss, with Stephan Lichtsteiner the only one who is fully fit.
The Swiss veteran should thus, start as the right-back on Wednesday, with Hector Bellerin being rested to recover in time for the weekend’s crunch clash against Liverpool. Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac are also likely to be excluded from the matchday squad, having still not recovered completely from their respective hamstring problems.
The left side of the defence thus, poses a problem, with Granit Xhaka also expected to be rested. Ainsley Maitland-Niles might just be given a start as a result, having recovered from a leg fracture. Meanwhile, the absence of Konstantinos Mavropanos means Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Rob Holding should be the preferred pairing at the heart of the Arsenal defence.
One player has already been confirmed as a starter, with Petr Cech set to return to action after recovering from injury. Meanwhile, Mohamed Elneny is unavailable for a couple of weeks after picking up a thigh injury in training.
The Egyptian international is usually one of the first names on the team sheet whenever the fringe players are given an opportunity, and might be replaced by Aaron Ramsey, who hasn’t started many games recently. The Welshman should be accompanied by Matteo Guendouzi, who will screen the backline while setting the tempo of the game.
Up ahead in attack, the in-form Danny Welbeck is a certain starter, and the Englishman will be aiming to continue his solid run against Blackpool. Welbeck is likely to be joined by Emile Smith Rowe, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eddie Nketiah.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Cech; Lichtsteiner, Holding, Sokratis, Maitland-Niles; Ramsey, Guendouzi; Mkhitaryan, Smith Rowe, Nketiah; Welbeck
Terry McPhillips has to deal with a couple of pressing roster issues before the visit to the capital to take on Arsenal. On Wednesday, the Blackpool boss will be without Donervan Daniels, who is nursing a hamstring injury, while star striker Armand Gnanduillet is suspended.
In Gnanduillet’s absence, Mark Cullen should be named as the striker, with Nathan Delfouneso and Liam Feeney being the go-to men for McPhillips in the wide areas. Midfield battle will be important if Blackpool are to spring a surprise and progress in the Carabao Cup.
To that end, the trio of Jay Spearing, Jordan Thompson and Callum Guy will be aiming to create overloads in the middle of the park in order to suffocate the Arsenal midfielders. Defensive structure will be key for the visitors as well, which will be the task undertaken by Curtis Tilt at the heart of the Blackpool defence.
Meanwhile, Arsenal academy graduate Marc Bola is in line to feature against his former club, having returned from injury this past weekend.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Howard; Nottingham, Heneghan, Tilt, Bola; Spearing, Guy, Thompson; Feeney, Cullen, Delfouneso
- Blackpool are winless in their last 14 away matches against Arsenal in all competitions (D4 L10), with their last win over the Gunners coming way back in November 1958.
- Arsenal are looking to reach the League Cup quarter-final for the third consecutive season. They have eliminated non-Premier League outfits in the fourth round in the last two seasons, beating Reading in 2016-17 and Norwich City in 2017-18.
- Blackpool, on the other hand, will be aiming for their first quarter-final qualification since 1972. The visitors last reached the fourth round in 2007, when they were beaten by Arsenal’s North London rivals Tottenham.
- In domestic cup competitions, Blackpool have managed to win just one of their last 26 away games against top-flight opponents (D5 L20), a 3-1 win over Chelsea in the League Cup in 1996.
- Arsenal will be aiming to eliminate Blackpool from the League Cup for the third time, having previously done so in 1968-69 and 1976-77.
Player to Watch
Emile Smith Rowe
Cup competitions have famously been used by Arsenal as an avenue to blood in promising youngsters, and Emile Smith Rowe is the latest beneficiary of the policy. The 18-year-old has already racked up three appearances for the Gunners this season, impressing in a free role behind the striker.
The Carabao Cup fixture against Blackpool will provide the teenage prodigy with another opportunity to impress and continue his steady progress in the Arsenal first-team setup. With the visitors struggling to shore up the defensive side of their game thus far, Smith Rowe could run riot on Wednesday, especially with Danny Welbeck being in such menacing form.
Arsenal 3-0 Blackpool
Arsenal have been dealt a handy draw for their Carabao Cup fourth round tie, with Blackpool in sixes and sevens at the moment. The fixture will also enable Unai Emery to rest a number of key players ahead of a crucial Premier League tie against Liverpool, although he will still have enough quality outclass the visitors.
Danny Welbeck is in irresistible form at the present moment, and with the Blackpool being porous at the back, the rejuvenated English striker should have a field day in front of goal. The Hard Tackle predicts a comfortable 3-0 win for Arsenal, with Emery blooding in more youngsters as the game progresses.