Here we are, fresh into a new year. If you’re the type that believe in the new year meaning new beginnings, the year couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for Arsenal. After suffering one of the club’s worst losses in a year of awful losses, Arsenal washed the bitter taste of the 5-1 Liverpool thrashing out of their mouths with a resounding 4-1 route of Fulham at the Emirates. Suffice it to say, Arsenal’s new year didn’t involve any hangovers, just a good old fashioned boot and rally.
On the heels of that victory, Arsenal are set to continue their quest for a record 14th FA Cup title, taking an early January trip to the coast to face Blackpool in the 3rd round of the FA Cup. Saturday’s match will be the second meeting between the two sides this season, as Arsenal dispatched the Seasiders in the Carabao Cup on Halloween to the tune of 2-1. That match can be remembered by a Carl Jenkinson sighting, a Stephan Lichsteiner goal, a Matteo Guendouzi red card, and not much else.
The FA Cup tie also rounds out an exhausting run of fixtures that have tested the depths of Arsenal’s resolve as well as the depths of their defense. Since December 13th, Arsenal have averaged a match nearly every three days, so Saturday’s match marks the end of that unbearably dense fixture list. Injured defenders Nacho Monreal, Hector Bellerin, and Shkodran Mustafi were all being assessed ahead of the match, so the chances that at least one of them to return to the side are relatively good.
The first meeting this season featured a mix of reserve team and academy players along some first teamers. However, with this being a more meaningful cup competition than the
Worthington’s Cup Capital One Cup Carabao Cup, Emery has said that he will be fielding a “competitive” side. What that means, nobody truly knows, but considering the match will happen almost a year to the day from last year’s embarrassing 4-2 defeat to Nottingham Forest, Arsenal will want to avoid a similarly ugly outcome.
Blackpool currently sit 10th in the English First Division and are in the midst of a four match winless run. Compounding their poor form is the news that fans, disgruntled with Blackpool’s owner, are considering a fan protest during the match. Blackpool’s supporters, known as The Muckers, are not shy of demonstration: in 2005, thousands of fans stormed the pitch during a match against Huddersfield Town, causing the match to be abandoned, and 8,000 fans created a scene on New Year’s Day.
So, Arsenal could be treated to some New Year’s fireworks, one way or another. With any hope, they will be from a routine and relatively straightforward win in the coastal English tourist town.
WHAT: Arsenal at Blackpool FC, FA Cup 3rd Round
WHERE: Bloomfield Road, Blackpool
WHEN: Saturday, January 5th, 12:30pm EST / 9:30am PST / 8:30pm GMT
US TV: ESPN+. As always, we kindly ask that you do not link to or discuss illegal streams.