Arsene Wenger heads into the first of 2 games in hand and, with 8 games left to play for Arsenal this season, they simply must win if they are to keep their title hopes alive. Currently 10 points behind league-leaders Manchester United, if they do not shorten the gap soon, the race could soon be over.
The Gunners are not the only team heading into this clash with insentive, however, as Blackpool and Ian Holloway bid for Premier League survival. If Blackpool can recapture some of their earlier season form they stand a great chance of avoiding the drop, however, they currently appear to be in freefall with just one league win in their last 11 appearences.
Arsenal find themselves in a spot of indifferent form at the moment as well, with 3 draws in their latest outings, with two being without score. Wenger’s record this season against the newly promoted sides has been poor for a side of Arsenal’s stature as well, with their only win coming as they put Blackpool to the sword at the Emirates.
The home side will be without three players through injury in Gilks, Basham and Clarke meaning they will be fully able to field a strong Blackpool side and have a go at the Premier League chasers. Meanwhile, Arsenal will be without key defensive personnel in Denilson, Djourou, Vermaelen, Fabianski and Szczesny.
Ian Holloway will gladly take any points he can get out of a game against a very strong Arsenal side, especially if it were to help stop the rot and keep the Seasiders playing Premier League football next season. However, as is his way, he is likely to field an attacking side with this season’s top performer Charlie Adam at its heart. DJ Campbell is also heavily expected to return, after serving a three-match ban for a red card against Wolves back at the end of February.
Goals are to be expected in this tie with Blackpool having failed to keep a clean sheet in their past 13 games, and Arsenal having their own set of defensive woes in recent weeks combined with both teams liklihood to attack from the off set.
Possible starting XIs for Blackpool v Arsenal (KO at 13:30) are
Blackpool: Kingson, Baptiste, Cathcart, Evatt, Crainey, Grandin, Adam, Vaughan, Ormerod, Taylor-Fletcher, Campbell.
Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy, Song, Wilshere, Fabregas, Nasri, Arshavin, Van Persie.