Blackpool 0-3 Arsenal FA Cup third round: Joe Willock brace clinches victory
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Arsenal travelled to take on Blackpool in the FA Cup third round on Saturday. Read on for Layth Yousif’s match report from Bloomfield Road.
A Joe Willock brace and an Alex Iwobi strike put Arsenal in the hat for the fourth round of the FA Cup after a lively 3-0 victory against Blackpool.
There was plenty of drama off-the-pitch prior to the cup game at a Bloomfield Road, sadly evocative in name only these days under its current ownership by the controversial Oyston family.
An open letter from Blackpool fans explaining why they were ‘adopting an ethical boycott’ for their FA Cup match with the Gunners circulated widely before the game calling their side a ‘club in crisis’.
The ill-will towards the chairman Carl and his father Owen was also shown by an irate Tangerines fan who sat on the roof of the Arsenal team coach on Saturday afternoon ahead of the 5.30pm kick-off.
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The one-man protest delayed the arrival of Emery’s side at Bloomfield Road - even if they did eventually depart the hotel and reach the ground in time to hand the teamsheets in without being fined.
On the pitch, Emery was true to his word after vowing to make a number of changes for the trip to the Seasiders.
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Petr Cech started as did Aaron Ramsey alongside starlets Willock and Eddie Nketiah. Bukayo Saka was named on the bench as were Alexandre Lacazette and Lucas Torreira.
The lively Nketiah, saw two early chances fly wide as he deserved credit for getting behind Blackpool’s backline, if not for his finishing ability in the opening stages.
Terry McPhillips’ Tangerines started with former Arsenal academy youngster Marc Bola.
While the Greenwich-born defender failed to make an appearance for the North Londoners senior team it was still heartening to see the talented 21-year-old Bola make a career in league football.
However could he have been more alert when attempting to keep out Arsenal’s opening goal on 11 minutes in a crowded box after Aaron Ramsey’s free-kick took a deflection onto the post before an alert Willock nodded home to put Emery’s side 1-0.
The 6,000 or so travelling supporters that flooded the ground took great delight in chorusing old numbers in ‘1-0 to the Arsenal’ while singing about going to Wembley.
What was also instructive was that they were quick to hail Ramsey telling the powers-that-be in N5 to ‘sign him up.’
Alas with the club withdrawing a lucrative deal believed to have been around £225,000 a week back in September, leaving the player and his representatives baffled it appears Juventus’ pre-contract offer of around £120,000 per week will be enough to land his signature this month with a view to signing a five-year deal in June.
The visitors doubled their lead on 37 minutes after Willock grabbed his second of the game after squeezing the ball past Seasiders’ keeper Mark Howard.
Blackpool fought gamely in the second half but the visitors were more than a match for their efforts.
Iwobi made the game safe by slotting in from close range with eight minutes remaining to cap a flowing move started by the quick feet of Maitland-Niles who performed a delightful drag-back as Emery’s side eased into the fourth round.
Blackpool, for their part, left with unpopular owners who have no intention to sell no doubt the protests and heartache will continue.
The magic of the FA Cup? Not today. Not for Tangerines fans on and off the pitch.
Follow Arsenal reporter Layth on Twitter @laythy29