By Bulldog Drummond
At the time of the third round draw for the FA Cup, there were still a couple second round ties unresolved – including of course the one to resolve who Arsenal would play. Now we know, as Blackpool have finally beaten Solihull Moors, and so we will play Blackpool for the second time this season on January 5th, or some other date around then, depending on the whims of the TV companies who now effectively run the FA Cup.
Tickets will be more readily available than they would have been for Solihull Moors – Blackpool has a capacity of 17338, although there is still a dispute going on between the club and supporters so the place may not be full for our visit. The Moors ground has a capacity of 3050.
Last time I was at Blackpool, which is described by some as “one of England’s top vacation cities” it appeared to me that its main attributes was alcohol and the sex industry – but maybe there is more to the town than the bit I saw from the beach and the concert hall.
Anyway, as you will recall Arsenal beat Blackpool 2-1 at the end of October in the League Cup so we await the second game, but before that we have Tottenham tonight and this match has been preluded on one website with the headline, “Tottenham have taken a major step towards beating Arsenal by droppping Lloris as keeper.”
Apart from that it is hard to find too much out, as the papers are instead focussing on such amazing revelations as the notion that “Arsene Wenger is NOT being considered by Manchester United as a candidate to be their new manager.” Goodness me, that is a surprise.
At least the Express did tell us that, “It was highly doubtful that Wenger would return to club football as United manager – but the BBC have confirmed the Red Devils are definitely not chasing the Frenchman.” In other words there never was a chance, and now we know there isn’t a chance. And this is called “news”.
But linking up with tonight’s game there are several papers running the story that “Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino wants to succeed Jose Mourinho at Manchester United, according to reports.” Who is writing those reports we are not told which normally means they are circular – each paper passing the story on to another but some are blaming the Times. He would cost £34million in compensation apparently. Mourinho’s reported payout which we quoted as £5m following a report in the Guardian has now risen to £50m in some quarters.
Elsewhere we are told that Lucas Torreira is going to Real Madrid, although it is not clear if that is next month or next summer. Other clubs who are going to buy him include Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester City which presumably means they will get a leg or an arm each.
“He may have only just touched down in North London but Torreira is turning heads and plenty of European heavyweights are queuing up for his signature with Madrid leading the way,” said Alex Apati of Ladbrokes.
Well, yes, he would say that, since he has a vested interest in punters placing bets on ludicrous events.
But it is to Talksport that we have to turn for the real humdinger of a revelation that Danny Welbeck (ankle) “will also miss out” in tonight’s game.
So we are now heading towards a squad made up of : Leno, Cech, Lichtsteiner, Koscielny, Sokratis, Monreal, Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Elneny, Torreira, Guendouzi, Ramsey, Iwobi, Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Lacazette, Aubameyang, Nketiah. Which if my maths is correct makes 18.
That could suggest having Lichsteiner and Maitland-Niles as full backs and Sokratis and Monreal as the central defenders in a back four. This also has the benefit of resting Koscileny and not risking a further injury through over-playing him.
Xhaka, Guendouzi and Torreira could then make up a midfield three although Elneny could get a chance here if one of those three needs a break.
That would leave Ramsey, Ozil and Lacazette, as a front three with Aubameyang ready to come on if need be.
However not all agree, as one headline claims that “Arsenal’s new kid on the block, Bukayo Saka appears on course to get his debut in the Carabao Cup fixture against Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday.”
We shall see.
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- Yet another example of the way the media tries to put down Arsenal