Thursday, 17 January 2019

Predictions For Premier League Gameweek 23

It’s that time of the week again when I attempt to predict the outcomes of the upcoming Premier League games. I didn’t do too well last week with five correct predictions and five incorrect predictions which meant I didn’t make up any ground on the leaders in my predictions league. Here’s a look at how the top five in that league stands.

 Pos Player Week Total
 1(1) whitgooner 55 1645
 2 (3) Forty Celsius FC.   55 1610
 3 (2) David96 25 1585
 4 (5) L’OM 65 1580
 4 (4) ArssenaL14 60 1580


Saturday January 19

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Leicester City

12.30pm GMT, Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton 

Wolves lost 3-0 away to City last week after getting a man sent off early on and that defeat saw them drop into the bottom half of the table. They have lost more games than they have won at home and they have lost five of the last seven at home and they failed to score in four of those games. They have only won once in their last five games and they failed to score in three of those games.

Matt Doherty and Raul Jiminez are the best of the Wolves players for fantasy managers, but their star has faded in recent weeks.

Leicester lost 2-1 at home to struggling Southampton last week and they dropped below Watford into eighth place. They have only lost once in their last six away games and they kept clean sheets in three of those games with only four other teams conceding less goals away from home. They have found goals hard to come by and they’re the lowest scorers in the top half of the table.

Ricardo Pereira is the Leicester player most likely to be of interest to fantasy managers.

This is a tough game to call and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it end with the spoils shared.

Prediction: 1-1

Bournemouth v West Ham United 

3pm GMT, Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth 

Bournemouth lost 2-0 away to Everton last week and they’re now only nine points above the bottom three. They have only lost one of their last four home games and only six other teams have scored more goals at home. They have lost nine of their last 12 games with only Fulham and Burnley conceding more goals.

Ryan Fraser is still impressing for fantasy managers despite Bournemouth’s slide while David Brooks has looked good recently too.

West Ham had a very good 1-0 win at home to Arsenal last week and they’re only one point off seventh place. They have won three of their last four away games and only six teams have conceded less goals on the road. They have taken 19 points from their last nine games, but they have only kept three clean sheets in their 22 games so far.

Felipe Anderson has been the best option for fantasy managers in the West Ham team, but his output has fallen off in recent weeks.

I think this will be a close game, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see West Ham sneak the three points.

Prediction: 1-2

Liverpool v Crystal Palace 

3pm GMT, Anfield, Liverpool 

Liverpool won 1-0 away to Brighton last week to keep their four point lead at the top of the table. They’re the only team unbeaten at home and no other team has conceded less goals at home with only City scoring more. They have won 10 of their last 11 games with only City scoring more goals and no other team conceding less.

Mohamed Salah is a must have for fantasy managers while every team should have at least one Liverpool defender in it too.

Palace led at home to Watford last week, but they ended up losing 2-1 and they’re only four points above the relegation zone. They have taken more points and scored more goals away from home than they have at home and they won their last two away games. They have taken 10 points from their last six games and they kept clean sheets in three of those games with only Newcastle and Cardiff scoring less goals.

Luka Milivojevic has regained some of last season’s form for fantasy managers in the last few weeks and he’s certainly worth considering.

I can’t see anything other than a comfortable Liverpool victory in this game.

Prediction: 2-0

Manchester United v Brighton And Hove Albion 

3pm GMT, Old Trafford, Manchester 

United won 1-0 away to Spurs last week to move level on points with fifth placed Arsenal and they’re now only six points off the top four. They have won their last three home games and they scored 11 goals in those games, but they have only kept one clean sheet in their 10 home games. They have won their last five games and they scored 15 goals in those games.

Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford are the United players to have for fantasy managers at the moment.

Brighton lost 1-0 at home to Liverpool last week, but they still have eight points to spare over the bottom three. Only Fulham and Bournemouth have lost more away games with only three teams scoring less away goals. They have only won once in their last seven games and they have only kept one clean sheet in their last 12 games.

I can’t see any Brighton players to recommend to fantasy managers at the moment and definitely not in this game.

On current form it’s hard to see anything other than a comprehensive United victory in this game.

Prediction: 3-1

Newcastle United v Cardiff City 

3pm GMT, St. James’s Park, Newcastle 

Newcastle lost 2-1 away to Chelsea last week and that defeat saw them drop into the bottom three. Only Huddersfield have taken less points at home with only Huddersfield and Palace scoring less goals on their own patch. They haven’t won in five games and they failed to score in three of those games with only Huddersfield scoring less goals.

I can’t see any Newcastle to recommend to fantasy managers at the moment.

Cardiff drew 0-0 at home to Huddersfield last week and that point was enough to keep them out of the bottom three. Only Fulham have taken less points away from home and no other team has scored less away goals, but they did keep clean sheets in their last two away games. They have only lost once in their last four games and they kept clean sheets in three of those games.

Neil Etheridge is doing very well for fantasy managers at the moment and he’s available at a good price too.

This is a big game for two teams looking to survive in the Premier League and I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t manage a goal between them.

Prediction: 0-0

Southampton v Everton 

3pm GMT, St. Mary’s Stadium, Southampton 

Southampton got a very good 2-1 win away to Leicester last week and that win moved them one point clear of the relegation zone. They have only won once in their 10 home games and no other team has drawn more games at home. They have drawn more games than any other team and they have taken 10 points from their last six games.

Nathan Redmond looks like the Southampton player who might make a difference for fantasy managers at the moment.

Everton got a much needed 2-0 win at home to Bournemouth last week and that win moved them back into the top half of the table. They have only won two of their 10 away games and they have lost four of the last six. They have only won twice in their last nine games and they failed to score in two of their last three games.

Lucas Digne has been in excellent form for fantasy managers in recent weeks and he’s still available at a good price.

I think Southampton’s revival will continue with a narrow victory in this game.

Prediction: 2-1

Watford v Burnley 

3pm GMT, Vicarage Road, Watford 

Watford came from behind to win 2-1 at Palace last week and that win moved them up to seventh place. They have only won once in their last five home games and they have only kept one clean sheet in their last 10 on their own ground. They have only lost once in their last seven games, but they have only kept one clean sheet in their last 12 games and no other team in the top half of the table has conceded more goals.

Roberto Pereyra is still the Watford player most likely to make a difference for fantasy managers while Gerard Deulofeu might be worth considering too.

Burnley came from behind to win 2-1 at home to Fulham last week thanks to two own goals and that win moved them three points clear of the relegation zone. Only Fulham and Bournemouth have lost more away games than Burnley, but they did win their last away game at Huddersfield. They have won their last three games after losing six of the previous seven with only Fulham conceding more goals.

Ashley Barnes hasn’t done too badly recently for fantasy managers, but it’s probably not a good idea to select Burnley’s players.

Despite their recent upturn in results I think Burnley will lose this game, but it will be close.

Prediction: 2-1

Arsenal v Chelsea 

5.30pm GMT, Emirates Stadium, London 

Arsenal lost 1-0 away to West Ham last week and they’re now six points off the top four and only ahead of United on goal difference. Only the top two have taken more home points and scored more home goals with only Liverpool and Chelsea conceding less goals at home. They have lost three of their last six games and no other team in the top half of the table has conceded more goals, but only the top two teams have scored more.

Pierre-Emireck Aubameyang is still the Arsenal player to have for fantasy managers, but they do have two very tough games in the next few weeks.

Chelsea just about managed a 2-1 win at home to Newcastle last week and they’re now only one point behind third placed Spurs. They have won their last three away games with only Liverpool and City conceding less goals away from home. They have taken 16 points from their last seven games and only Liverpool have conceded less goals so far.

David Luiz has been the Chelsea to have for fantasy managers in recent weeks with Eden Hazard always of interest too.

This is a huge game for Arsenal in particular and I think they might just have enough at home to take the three points.

Prediction: 2-1

Sunday January 20

Huddersfield Town v Manchester City

1.30pm GMT, John Smith’s Stadium, Huddersfield 

Huddersfield put an end to an awful run of results by getting a 0-0 draw at Cardiff last week, but they’re still firmly rooted to the foot of the table. No other team has last more games or scored less goals at home and they have lost the last four games on their own ground. They did draw their last game, but it was their first point in nine games and they have scored less goals and lost more games than any other team.

I can’t see any Huddersfield players to recommend to fantasy managers, but maybe that will change with a new manager at the helm.

City won 3-0 at home to Wolves last week to stay four points behind Liverpool at the top of the table. They have lost two of their last three away games, but no other team has conceded less goals on the road. They have won their last three games after losing three of the previous four and no other team has scored more goals with only Liverpool conceding less.

It’s not easy to predict which City players will play from week to week, but when they do play Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva are all very much worth having for fantasy managers.

I think City should take the three points in this game without ever having to over exert themselves.

Prediction: 0-3

Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur

4pm GMT, Craven Cottage, London 

Fulham led away to Burnley last week, but they ended up losing 2-1 and they’re now five points away from the safety of seventeenth place. They have taken 12 of their 14 points at home, but only Cardiff and Burnley have conceded more goals on their own patch. They have only won once in their last nine games and no other team has conceded more goals.

I can’t see any Fulham players to recommend to fantasy managers at the moment.

Spurs lost 1-0 at home to United last week and they’re now nine points off the top of the table while Chelsea are only a point behind them. They have taken more points and scored more goals away from home than any other team. They have lost two of their last three games after winning eight of the previous nine and only the two teams above them have scored more goals.

With Harry Kane injured and Heung-Min Son on international duty it looks like fantasy managers will have to look to Christian Eriksen or Dele Alli if they want a return from Spurs players.

I think Spurs will bounce back from last week’s defeat by winning this game with at least a couple of goals to spare.

Prediction: 1-3

That’s it for this week.

See you next week.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Arsenal’s Premier League Trip To West Ham Previewed

Arsenal had a fairly run of the mill 3-0 win away to Blackpool in the third round of the FA Cup last week after beating Fulham 4-1 in the Premier League only a few days earlier. Those games brought an end to a very busy festive schedule which wasn’t great to say the least, but it could have been worse too. The low point was the 5-1 defeat away to Liverpool after scoring first in the game and it showed up just how poor we are defensively even if it wasn’t really a surprise.

We haven’t won in our last four away games and we have now conceded 21 goals away from home in our 10 games this season with only three other teams conceding more away goals. It was our away form which saw us miss out on a top four finish last season with only City taking more points at home and it seems our away form could be heading that way again this season. Our away results were initially quite good this season, but it seems other teams have realised they just need to attack us and the chances will flow. It doesn’t help when we try to sit on a lead because it’s something we are incapable of doing and the only way we’re going to improve our away results is by continuing to attack.

It might only be a trip across London to play West Ham today, but I think it’s a really big game for us. If we’re going to continue to keep a real interest in a top four finish we have to keep pace with Chelsea and try to stay ahead of a rejuvenated United too. We don’t play any of the rest of the top six in our last eight games and we need to get to those games with a top four place still in our sights. It does mean we have to travel to both City and Spurs as well as playing at home to Chelsea and United in our next nine games and it’s going to be difficult to keep our challenge up.

As it stands Chelsea are three points ahead of us and we will draw level if we can beat West Ham before they play Newcastle in the late game today. On the face of it Chelsea should stroll through that game, but they only drew 0-0 at home to struggling Southampton in their last home game and Newcastle don’t actually tend to concede too many goals away from home this season. The chances of Chelsea slipping up will surely increase just a little if we can put some pressure on them by beating West Ham.

United have won all four of their games since they parted ways with Jose Mourinho only a few weeks ago even if those games weren’t against the best teams in the league. They travel to Spurs tomorrow and while I would never wish for Spurs to win any game they could do us a favour by at least taking a point off them. We all know Spurs aren’t real contenders for the title and they will bottle it at some stage, but it is looking increasingly difficult for us to catch them. They are six points behind Liverpool at the moment and we’re a further seven points behind them which probably means we have as much chance of catching them as they have of catching Liverpool.

We had hoped to be able to strengthen the team in the January transfer window, but it seems there is precious little money in the kitty at the moment and we will have to be happy with whatever loanees we might be able to tempt our way. Our need to strengthen the centre of our defence and add some attacking width is clear for all to see and our top four chances could depend on who we can add before the month is over. I’m still not sure how the sixth wealthiest club in the world hasn’t got two pennies to rub together, but I have no doubt it has an awful lot to do with us being the only Premier League club who’s owner doesn’t invest a single cent in the club.

Back to today’s game though and our need for three points against a West Ham team who have lost more home games than they have won and have only kept one clean sheet at home. We haven’t kept a clean sheet away from home either so the chances of both teams scoring today must be pretty high. If it’s a shoot out we do have the joint highest scorer in the league in our ranks and hopefully Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can be the man to make the difference.

The manager does have some or all of Nacho Monreal, Shkodran Mustafi, Hector Bellerin, Laurent Koscielny and Mesut Ozil available for selection again at least and he will have more options than he has had recently and a few decisions to make too. He has to get his team right and it’s something he has struggled to do in recent weeks, but some of those returning players might make it a little easier for him. He has struggled to get any balance in the team recently and the midfield mix has been wrong far too often. 

The return of Bellerin would give us more attacking options on the right and I imagine we will play three central defenders if both him and Sead Kolasinac play. With our lack of genuine width in the team the two of them will be very important when it comes to getting behind the West Ham defence and cutting the ball back for others to score. That was our best route to goal for the early part of the season and it would be great to fully reopen that route.

I can’t say I’m overly confident of us getting the win today given how we have performed away from home recently, but it’s certainly well within our abilities. If we take the lead and sit back giving the initiative to West Ham it will only go one way so we have to stay on the front foot from the first to the last minute. There’s still plenty to play for this season, but anything other than a win today will make a top four finish an awful harder for us to achieve.

That’s it for today.

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Predictions For Premier League Gameweek 22

It’s that time of the week again when I attempt to predict the outcomes of the upcoming Premier League games. I did quite well in the last gameweek with two perfect predictions, four correct outcomes and four incorrect outcomes to move a little closer to the top five in my predictions league. Here’s a look at how that top five stands with me a further 80 points back in 11th place.

POSITIONPLAYER NAMETHIS WEEKPOINTS
 1 (1) whitgooner
frank merrick
1590
 2 (5) David96 1560
 3 (4) Forty Celsius FC
Matt Emerson
1555
 4 (3) ArssenaL14 1520
 5 (2) L'OM 1515

Saturday January 12

West Ham United v Arsenal 

12.30pm GMT, London Stadium, London 

West Ham came from 2-0 down to get a 2-2 draw at home to Brighton last time out and that point moved them into the top half of the table. They have lost more home games than they have won and they haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last eight games at home. They have taken 16 points from their last eight games, but only six other teams have conceded more goals.

If he’s fit to play Marco Arnautovic is a good bet for fantasy managers while Felipe Anderson has been the player to have in his absence.

Arsenal won 4-1 at home to Fulham in their last game to close the gap on third placed Chelsea to three points, but United are only three points behind Arsenal. They haven’t won in their last four away games and they conceded 11 goals in those games with only three other teams conceding more goals away from home. They have lost two of their last five games and they conceded 11 goals in those games, but they did score 11 goals too with only the top two teams scoring more goals.

Pierre-Emireck Aubameyang is still the Arsenal player to have for fantasy managers.

I think this will be a very close game with Arsenal just about managing to take the three points.

Prediction: 1-2

Brighton And Hove Albion v Liverpool 

3pm GMT, AMEX Stadium, Brighton 

Brighton led 2-0 away to West Ham last time out, but they had to settle for a point and they’re only two points off the top half of the table with the bottom three 10 points behind them. Only five teams have taken more points at home and they have only lost one of their last seven home games. They’re unbeaten in three games after losing the previous three, but they have only kept one clean sheet in their last 11 games.

I can’t see any Brighton players to recommend to fantasy managers in this game at least.

Liverpool lost their unbeaten record in their last game when they lost 2-1 away to City, but they’re still four points clear of City at the top of the table. Only Spurs have taken more points away from home and no other team has conceded less goals away from home with only Spurs scoring more. They had won nine games in a row before losing to City and they have kept 12 clean sheets in their 21 games with no other team conceding less goals and only City scoring more.

Despite not keeping a clean sheet in their last two games Liverpool’s defenders and keeper are still premium choices for fantasy managers with Mohamed Salah a must have too.

I think Liverpool will bounce back with a win by at least a couple of goals.

Prediction: 0-2

Burnley v Fulham 

3pm GMT, Turf Moor, Burnley 

Burnley got a very important 2-1 win away to Huddersfield in their last game to move out of the relegation zone. Only Newcastle and Huddersfield have lost more home games and only Cardiff have conceded more goals at home. They have won their last two games after only winning one of the previous 12 with only Fulham conceding more goals.

With Burnley possibly improving it could be a good time for fantasy managers to have a look at Tom Heaton or maybe even Ashley Barnes or Ashley Westwood.

Fulham lost 4-1 away to Arsenal in their last game and they’re now four points below the safety zone. They’re the only team without an away win and no other team has conceded more goals away from home with only Cardiff scoring less. Only Huddersfield have lost more games and no other team has conceded more goals, but they have kept two clean sheets in their last four games.

I can’t see any Fulham players to recommend to fantasy managers at the moment even if Aleksandar Mitrovic has the odd good game.

This is a big game at the wrong end of the table and I think Burnley will continue to climb the table by taking all three points.

Prediction: 1-0

Cardiff City v Huddersfield Town

3pm GMT, Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff

Cardiff lost 3-0 at home to Spurs last time out and they’re only one place and two points above the bottom three. Only Newcastle and Huddersfield have lost more home games and no other team has conceded more goals at home, but they won four of their last seven at home. They kept clean sheets in two of their last three games even though only two teams have conceded more goals.

Victor Camarasa and Neil Etheridge are the only Cardiff players for fantasy managers to even consider.

Huddersfield lost 2-1 at home to Burnley in their last game to leave them firmly rooted to the foot of the table. They have lost their last four away games with only two teams scoring less goals away from home. They have lost their last eight games and no other team has scored less goals.

I can’t see any Huddersfield players to recommend to fantasy managers now or probably not for the rest of the season either.

This is another big game at the wrong end of the table and again I think the home team should get the better of proceedings.

Prediction: 2-1

Crystal Palace v Watford 

3pm GMT, Selhurst Park, London 

Palace got a very good 2-0 win away to Wolves in their last game to move six points clear of the relegation zone. Only two teams have won less home games and no other team has scored less goals at home, but only Liverpool and Chelsea have conceded less. They have taken 10 points from their last five games and they kept clean sheets in three of those games with only Huddersfield and Newcastle scoring less goals.

Luka Milivojevic has done well for fantasy managers in recent weeks while Palace’s defenders haven’t done too badly either and Vicente Guaita is available at a good price.

Watford drew 3-3 away to Bournemouth last time out, but they are quickly losing ground on sixth place. They have won as many games as they have lost at home, but they have lost three of their last five games at home. They have only won two of their last 11 games and they only kept one clean sheet in those games.

Roberto Pereyra is still the Watford player most likely to make a difference for fantasy managers while Gerard Deulofeu is worth watching too.

This looks like it will be a very close game and I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended in a draw.

Prediction: 1-1

Leicester City v Southampton 

3pm GMT, King Power Stadium, Leicester 

Leicester got a very good 1-0 win away to Everton in their last game to move up to seventh place, but they’re seven points off the top six. They have lost two of their last three home games, but they did beat City in the other game and only four teams have conceded less goals at home. They have won three of their last four games and they have only conceded seven goals in their last 11 games, but they only scored nine goals in those games.

Ricardo Pierera has done very well for fantasy managers despite not always getting picked while Jamie Vardy is always worth considering too.

Southampton got a very good 0-0 draw away to Chelsea in their last game, but other results saw them drop into the bottom three. Only Fulham have lost more away games, but they have taken four points from their last two away games including that draw at Chelsea. They haven’t won in three games after winning the previous two and only Huddersfield have won less games.

If he’s fit to play Danny Ings is a good option for fantasy managers as a cut price striker while Nathan Redmond seems to have found a new lease of life under their new manager.

I don’t think we’ll see too many goals in this game, but I think Leicester will score more than Southampton.

Prediction: 1-0

Chelsea v Newcastle United 

5.30pm GMT, Stamford Bridge, London 

Chelsea could only draw 0-0 at home to struggling Southampton in their last game and they’re now four points behind third place and only three points ahead of fifth place. They have only lost one one of their 11 home games and only Liverpool have conceded less goals at home, but they failed to score in their last two games on their own ground. They have only won five of their last 10 games, but only Liverpool have conceded less goals. 

Eden Hazard and Marcos Alonso are still the best choices in the Chelsea team for fantasy managers while all of their defenders and keeper are worth considering too.

Newcastle lost 2-0 at home to United in their last game and they’re now only two points above the relegation zone. They have only lost three of their 10 away games and only four other teams have conceded less goals away from home. They haven’t won in four games and they only scored one goal in those games with only Huddersfield scoring less goals.

Solomon Rondon has been the best Newcastle player for fantasy managers, but it’s probably not a good idea to pick Newcastle players.

I think Chelsea should be able to win this game with a couple of goals to spare despite their current hectic schedule.

Prediction: 2-0

Sunday January 13

Everton v Bournemouth 

2.15pm GMT, Goodison Park, Liverpool 

Everton lost 1-0 at home to Leicester in their last game and that defeat dropped them into the bottom half of the table. They haven’t won in their last four home games and they conceded 10 goals in those games. They have only taken five points from their last eight games, but no other team in the bottom half of the table has scored more goals. 

Both Richarlison and Gylfi Siggurdson have done quite well for fantasy managers while Lucas Digne is certainly one to watch too.

Bournemouth drew 3-3 at home to Watford in their last game and they’re still only one point off the top half of the table, but they seem to slipping slowly towards trouble. They have lost their last five away games and they conceded 16 goals in those games. They have only taken seven points from their last 11 games and they conceded 28 goals in those games with only three other teams conceding more goals.

Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson have done very well for fantasy managers this season, but Bournemouth are struggling at the moment.

I think Everton will just about get a much needed win in this game.

Prediction: 2-1

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United 

4.30pm GMT, Wembley Stadium, London 

Spurs won 3-0 away to Cardiff last time out and they’re only six points off the top of the table after Liverpool lost to City. They have lost three of their nine home games, but only Liverpool and Chelsea have conceded less goals at home. They have won six of their last seven games and they’re the only team who haven’t drawn a game so far with only the two teams above them scoring more goals.

Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son and Christian Eriksen are all very good options for fantasy managers at the moment, but Son will be going away on international duty after this game.

United won 2-0 away to Newcastle in their last game as their improvement since Jose Mourinho’s departure continued and they’re now only six points off the top six. They have only lost one of their 10 home games and they have scored 11 goals in winning their last three games at home, but they have only kept one clean sheet on their own patch so far. They have won their last four games and they scored 14 goals in those games, but no other team in the top half of the table has conceded more goals.

Paul Pogba is in excellent form for fantasy managers at the moment with Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jessie Lingard doing pretty well too.

This is a tough game to call, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended with the spoils shared.

Prediction: 2-2

Monday January 14

Manchester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers 

8pm GMT, Etihad Stadium, Manchester 

City got a vital 2-1 win at home to Liverpool last time out to cut Liverpool’s lead at the top of the table to four points. They have won 10 of their 11 home games and no other team has taken more points or scored more goals at home. They have lost three of their last six games and they haven’t kept a clean sheet in eight games, but no other team has scored more goals with only Liverpool and Chelsea conceding less.

The City rotation policy makes it very difficult for fantasy managers to know which of their players to pick, but you can’t go too far wrong with Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sane.

Wolves lost 2-0 at home to Palace in their last game, but they’re only two points off seventh place. They have only lost three of their 10 away games and have taken more points on the road than they have at home with only three other teams conceding less away goals. They have taken 13 points from their last seven games, but they have only kept one clean sheet in their last 13 games.

Matt Doherty and Raul Jiminez are the stand out players in the Wolves team for fantasy managers, but this might not be the best game to have them.

I think City will continue their pursuit of Liverpool by taking the three points in this game.

Prediction: 3-1

That’s it for this week.

See you next week.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Arsenal’s FA Cup Trip To Blackpool Previewed

Arsenal face a tricky FA Cup third round trip to Blackpool this evening. With fourth place in the Premier League their first priority and the Europa League in second place it leaves the FA Cup a distant third. It’s a competition we have won more than any other club though and we have won it three times in the last five seasons too.

I have no doubt Unai Emery will make a few changes from the team that struggled to find any rhythm against Fulham, but still managed to win 4-1. The festive schedule was very tough for every team and the players are bound to be tired so he has a chance to rest a few weary legs as well as giving some game time to those on the fringes. Our next league game isn’t until next week so there is plenty of time for players to regroup and regain their strength.

I imagine we will see Petr Cech in goal with Ainsley Maitland-Niles in defence and maybe even Zach Medley too. The rest of the defence will probably be made of more first choice players, but I would hope Laurent Koscielny is rested as he clearly needs a little more recovery time from his long injury lay off. We might see Carl Jenkinson too, but I have a feeling he doesn’t really feature in the manager’s plans.

In midfield both Mohamed Elneny and Matteo Guendouzi should feature and Aaron Ramsey must be a shoe-in seeming as he didn’t start against Fulham. If the reports are to be believed he has more or less signed a pre-contract agreement with Juventus and will join them on a free transfer in the summer. It has also been reported that he turned down a bigger offer from PSG and we turned down a cash offer from Juventus to take him immediately. I would be surprised if we turned down a good fee considering he will go for free in the summer, but our squad is very short at the moment and he certainly has a part to play for the rest of the season.

If all three of those players do play it doesn’t leave too much room for Bukayo Saka, Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith-Rowe. All four of them would hope to play from the start today, but we might only see two of them with the others possibly coming off the bench. I wouldn’t be surprised if Alexandre Lacazette was in the team too as he might have a little more in the tank than others considering how often he has been substituted recently.

We beat Blackpool 2-1 at the Emirates a few months ago in the Carabao Cup and it won’t be too easy to repeat that on their patch. They’re a mid-table League One team and we can’t take them too lightly, but equally it’s a game we should win. There’s talk of a boycott by the home fans which means there might well be more Arsenal fans than Blackpool fans at the game which would be a little odd to say the least.

I imagine the manager will have a strong bench in case he needs to call on a few first teamers to rescue the game. Arsene Wenger made the mistake of giving himself no real options from the bench at this stage last season when we went out 4–2 away to Nottingham Forest. The FA Cup might not be our first priority, but I would be very surprised if the manager didn’t want to go as far as possible in a competition which has been out only route to silverware since 2004.

That’s it for today.

See you tomorrow.