Arsenal get FA Cup campaign off and running at Blackpool (0-3)
5 January, 2019
Unai Emery enjoyed a new experience, coaching for the first time on one of the most traditional days in world football, the third round of the FA Cup. Well aware of the importance of the competition in English football and especially for Arsenal fans, given their team’s record of 13 Cup wins, the Basque coach named a strong team to take on Blackpool at Bloomfield Road.
Any pre-match nerves for the younger players were eased quickly with an early goal for academy graduate Joe Willock. The talented teenage midfielder showed his poaching instinct when he was first to pounce on a ball that came back off the bar from an Aaron Ramsey free kick. But Blackpool didn’t roll over, far from it, they came back at Arsenal and had efforts on goal, but Petr Cech was able to deal with them. On one such occasion Cech played out from the back and Arsenal moved through the lines down the right. A low cross in from Alex Iwobi was met at the back post by Willock to bag his second and double the Arsenal lead. There could have been more goals in the first half. On the stroke of half-time, Eddie Nketiah just managed to get on the end of an Ainsley Maitland-Niles cross but he was unable to beat former Arsenal academy goalkeeper Mark Howard.
The second half saw Blackpool start strongly and they created some threatening situations, but Arsenal weathered the home side’s better moments. Into the latter stages of the game, good work from Maitland-Niles and Alex Lacazette led to Ramsey receiving in the box; the Welshman’s shot was saved by substitute goalkeeper Christoffer Mafoumbi, but Iwobi was on hand to knock in the loose ball.
Arsenal get their FA Cup campaign off and running with an away win that takes them into the 4th round. The team now turn their attention to the weekend’s Premier League London derby against West Ham United.