Happy Saturday all – hope you are enjoying your Sunday after Arsenal’s safe passage to the fourth round?
I am waking up to a sea view in Lytham St Anne’s following the 3-0 victory over Blackpool and having gone to the game with The Management and thoroughly frozen ourselves by the end of the night, I can say that the victory has certainly given me a cause for a smile.
You can’t really ever complain about a three-nil win and overall I thought it was a game that we were comfortable throughout in reality. Perhaps that’s not surprising though. Blackpool are a club in turmoil off the pitch and aside from the fact the seats are orange it might as well have been a ‘home away from home’ game because Arsenal brought more travelling fans with them than were those at the club. I think the attendance was around the 8,000 mark and there were around 5,000 of us so it’s rather sad to see a local community football club be ripped apart by such terrible owners.
But from an Arsenal perspective it was very much ‘job done’ and with a decent amount of rotation too. I was a little worried to see Kolasinac and Sokratis in the starting line up given the type of pitch it was – bobbly and looking like something from the Sunday League – but now that the game is done and they seem to have come out of it unscathed we can at least breathe a sigh of relief.
So Unai named a rotated team and throughout the game it looked like we were comfortable. The first goal was a rebound from a Ramsey free kick and when Willock nodded it in to make it one-nil to The Arsenal, deep down I think everyone knew it was probably a case of ‘how many’ rather than whether we’d win or not.
Arsenal controlled the ball, dominated possession and Nketiah’s pace was a threat all through the first half. The terrible state of the pitch may have had an impact in to why we went a little long with our football at times, but probably what was also obvious to the Arsenal players was that Nketiah was going to get in behind all day with their back line unable to get near him. He should have added to his goal tally for this season too and will probably have had nightmares last night when he went to bed because it felt like the game was there for him to notch up a few goals.
He didn’t, but Willock did, including a decent second goal which involved some nice build up play. It included The Corporal Jenkinson too and although he’s clearly way down on the pecking order at the club I thought it was great to see him on the pitch and at least having a decent game. He had a few thumbs up for us in the stands too which was nice.
As I say though, we pretty much controlled the game and I thought all of the Arsenal players looked comfortable, especially Ramsey who dictated the play from the middle at times. It’s a shame he’ll be off in the summer but it’s the world of football and we have to accept it.
As for the other notable performances, I thought Ainsley Maitland-Niles had a good game and in a match like this his athleticism and drive was perfect for a Blackpool team that couldn’t really cope with him. He had the beating of his man, chased and harried all evening, and you can see why Unai likes him with the engine and ground that he covers.
I thought Iwobi also played well. He still ‘Iwobied’ at times but he was able to affect the game with goals and assists and although this Blackpool team were clearly a few levels below a rotated Arsenal team, getting goals and assists are important for a player like him, who needs a shot of confidence and hasn’t been very good at all in recent months.
So all in all you have to say it was a good day out at the office. No FA Cup third round ‘shocks’ were on the cards, we didn’t have any egg over the faces, plus there were plenty of players who will have been rested ahead of the return of the Premier League next weekend away to West Ham.
Right, I’m off for a shower and then a trip back to London, so will catch you all tomorrow.