Arsenal take on Blackpool at the Emirates this evening in the Carabao Cup. This comes barely 3 days after the 2-2 stalemate at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace, which ended the Gunners fantastic winning streak. That said, the Gunners still remain unbeaten in 12 games and tonight’s game poses a significant challenge as Liverpool lie in wait, just 3 days away from this contest on Saturday.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) October 30, 2018
Despite being mid-table in the championship, Blackpool pose a significant threat because the Gunners require a healthy winning-mentality to overcome Liverpool at the weekend. This dovetails to team selection problems for tonight, as rotation is imperative to comfortably defeat Blackpool as well as avoid burnout for Saturday’s clash of the Titans.
With Petr Cech back to fitness, he will most likely be given the nod to protect Arsenal’s rear guard between the sticks against Blackpool. Hector Bellerin won’t be available for this fixture anyway, having picked up an injury from the last game in the form of muscle strain in the thigh. Hence, either Stephan Litchstenier or Carl Jenkinson will be deployed at the RB position, depending on Sead Kolasinac and Nacho Monreal’s match fitness.
In the event that none of the above listed natural LBs are available for tonight’s game against Blackpool, it is likely that Litchstenier will be deployed at LB against Blackpool to give Granit Xhaka a rest for the weekend. Rob Holding will be partnered by either Mustafi or Sokratis in the CB positions to make up a backline of 4.
The Arsenal XI the last time they faced Blackpool in a cup competition…
?? Alex Manninger
??????? Lee Dixon
?? Oleg Luzhny
??????? Tony Adams
?? Gilles Grimandi
?? Freddie Ljungberg
?? Marc Overmars
?? Emmanuel Petit
?? Thierry Henry
?? Davor Suker
Some Serious Talent ? pic.twitter.com/aDb8bxOXWF
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) October 31, 2018
Matteo Guendozi should start tonight, alongside Emile Smith-Rowe and Aaron Ramsey in the middle of the park against Blackpool. Other options for the midfield include Maitland-Niles, Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka, Mesüt Özil and Henrikh Mhkitaryan. Whichever 3 are selected to start the match, one thing is certain; such selection will be made by Unai Emery with winning the game and Liverpool in mind.
Lastly, in the attack, Danny Welbeck, Alex Iwobi and possibly Pierre Emerick Aubameyang will make up the 3 attackers upfront against Blackpool. This competition provides the youth side an opportunity to play for the first team, hence it shouldn’t come as a surprise, when players like Eddie Nketiah, Julio Pleguezuelo, Joe Willock make a starting appearance.
However Unai Emery decides to roll the dice of selection, a combination of youth and experience is bound to be on display tonight for sure.
Here are quotes from Unai Emery’s pre-match conference;
” The most important thing for the young players is to be alert every day in the training sessions. They need to use the experienced players’ example, how they progress, and learn from them. For us, it’s about sticking with them and giving them responsibility in each training session, the confidence from working for us. Then, when they deserve it, it’s up to us to give them chances in the matches. Progressively, they can take confidence from being able to find their performance with their quality and with confidence”
Gedion Zalalem will play today for the Arsenal U21s. Smith Rowe and Eddie Nketiah will feature tomorrow against Blackpool. Wish we could see Medley too but he is also part of the U21's side that plays today. #afc
— LTArsenal™ (@ltarsenal) October 30, 2018
On team selection for Blackpool game, he added;
“For us, each match is our focus. We’re looking for a good performance from the team, and also to give the players the chances to help us with their performances. We respect Blackpool, and we will take the responsibility to have the best performance in each competition so that we’re able to win the match.”
It is safe to say at this point that Unai Emery will not be taking this competition for granted like his predecessor Arsene Wenger.
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Time: 20:45 WAT (GMT+1)
Competition: Carabao Cup