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Arsenal welcome League One outfit Blackpool to the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday and are hoping to avoid any scares against third-tier opposition in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.
The Premier League giants are unbeaten in 12 but saw their winning run come to an end in Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace, but manager Unai Emery will hope to use Halloween as a springboard to get back in the green.
Blackpool were 2-0 victors against Championship side Queens Park Rangers to progress from the third round, but the step up to beating Emery’s flyers—fourth in the Premier League—is a much greater task.
Two-time champions Arsenal last won the League Cup in 1993 but made it to last season’s final, an achievement they’ll look to replicate under a new manager and with fresh faces in the squad.
Date: Wednesday, October 31
Time: 7:45 p.m. GMT/3:45 p.m. ET
Venue: Emirates Stadium, London
Live Stream: Arsenal Player, ESPN+ (U.S.)
TV Info: ESPN 2 (U.S.)
It’s unsurprising to see Arsenal line up for Wednesday’s clash as such hefty 1-9 favourites, considering there are currently 56 places between them and Blackpool—sat 12th in League One—in the English leagues.
Two penalties from Luka Milivojevic denied the north Londoners three points at Selhurst Park on Sunday, although Squawka showed that was an irregular lapse for the visitors based on their recent form:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Only three teams have taken points off Arsenal across all competitions this season:
L – Man City
L – Chelsea
D – Crystal Palace
The Eagles’ end the 11-game winning streak. https://t.co/kz8fESyJnJ
Nevertheless, the debate now turns to how Emery’s men cope with their self-imposed disappointment, which isn’t all that bad, considering they’re still only four points off Premier League leaders Manchester City.
Arsenal’s attack has been one of the most effective in England this season, with 24 goals in 10 league games—second only to defending champions City.
However, they face a defence that has shown the potential to be steadfast this season, even if it did surrender 3-2 at Fleetwood Town on Saturday, per Sky Sports Statto:
Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto
Most clean sheets in top 4 English divisions this season
9 – @Boro
8 – Blackpool
7 – Tranmere
7 – Mansfield
7 – MK Dons
📺Can @Boro become the first team to 10 League clean sheets v @dcfcofficial on Saturday. Coverage begins at Midday on Sky Sports Football 📺 https://t.co/ZZnEyhIAtC
Emery has not placed as much emphasis on defence despite adding the likes of Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Stephan Lichtsteiner to his ranks in the summer, as well as midfielders Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi.
The lack of composure inside the area was evident against the Eagles when conceding penalties either side of Granit Xhaka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goals for the Gunners.
However, Emery showed on the touchline after Milivojevic’s second spot-kick how he differs in management style to predecessor Arsene Wenger, per journalist James Olley:
James Olley @JamesOlley
Ever since that second equaliser, Emery has been gesturing furiously at his players demanding more energy. He just called Lacazette over to the touchline and had both hands on his face shouting encouragement.
It’s that kind of impassioned approach many at Arsenal may well have been longing for, and the former Sevilla coach’s method at least appears to be working for now.
We should see a weakened Arsenal lineup against Blackpool as they keep one eye on Saturday’s home league fixture against Liverpool, as Emery balances his Carabao Cup priorities.
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