Arsenal head to Blackpool for the first time in 40 years, and they have to win
Sunday by the seaside for Gunners, but the title is on the line
THE early season form that saw Blackpool touted as possible contenders for a top-half finish has deserted them since the turn of the year and they now find themselves staring at a swift return to the Championship.
Having picked up only eight points since January 1, the Seasiders have plummeted to 17th in the table and they won’t be relishing the prospect of a visit from an Arsenal team who thrashed them 6-0 at the Emirates back in August.
Equally though the Gunners are unlikely to relish the trip to Lancashire, as they have drawn their last three league games, the last two of which have been against teams from the wrong end of the table.
Unlike two of those draws, however, this match looks highly unlikely to end goalless, as the Seasiders have failed to keep a clean sheet in 14 outings and have not been involved in a no-score draw in 18.
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Their unrelenting attacking style of play has virtually guaranteed goals at both ends this season and has won them many neutral admirers, but it has often cost them points.
Their willingness to go forward could be viewed as a refreshing naivety that is often absent from the top flight, but some feel that this has largely been Blackpool’s downfall.
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One player who is a catalyst for this brand of football is Scotland international and the club’s leading goalscorer Charlie Adam, who has been a pivotal figure this season.
The return of DJ Campbell from suspension will also be vital for Blackpool, and despite their poor run of form, Ian Holloway is adamant that his team can stay in the top flight.
“We can have probably five defeats and two wins and we’d stay up, I believe,” he said after last weekend’s 3-0 defeat at Fulham.
“Whether I am right or wrong, you’ve asked me about it and 39 points might keep us up.”
It is this sort of belief that has helped Blackpool’s fight for survival, which the charismatic Holloway has managed to instil in his team.
A victory could even tempt Holloway to launch into another amusingly bombastic analogy, but Arsenal should find that winning touch.
Prediction: Blackpool 1 Arsenal 2
Blackpool 0 Arsenal 1
November 7, 1970
It has been over 40 years since Arsenal made the long trip north to Bloomfield Road for a league game, but the last time they did the teams were only separated by a John Radford goal.
The Gunners beat Blackpool 1-0 home and away that season on their way to the club’s historic first Double in 1971.
However, it was not such a memorable season for the Seasiders, who were relegated after finishing bottom with just 23 points and, although they were not to know it at the time, started an exile from the top flight that was to last for 40 years.