By Giuseppe Muro
Despite taking the Premier League by storm during the opening half of their first season in the top flight, Blackpool have faltered of late and the Tangerines currently sit one place and just one point above the relegation zone.
Manager Ian Holloway has set a target of 39 points, which is two wins from their remaining seven games, as they aim to avoid the drop. So what are the chances of the first of those victories coming against Arsenal?
We spoke to Steve Canavan of the Blackpool Gazette to get an opposition view on Sunday’s game.
THE STORY SO FAR
Blackpool were a bit of a surprise package in the first half of the season and they did remarkably well. They learnt a lot from their second game, away at Arsenal, where they got tonked 6-0 and had a man sent off. That taught them a lesson and woke them up as well. They had an attacking style and an unusual formation that took teams by surprise. They also had a couple of players who were in really good form. Charlie Adam was scoring goals, creating chances and dictating games. Some teams were caught out, like Liverpool at Anfield, because Blackpool are not a bad footballing team. All those things led to a great first half of the season.
CAUSE FOR CONCERN
But once teams had seen them once, the crafty ones set out their teams to stop Adam and stop the way Blackpool play. Now they have got a bit more respect from other clubs and that has made it harder for them. Also, as you get towards the end of your first season in the Premier League it does become tougher and, mentally, it is quite draining. They have got a group of lads who are used to the Championship and it is a lot tougher, both mentally and physically, in the Premier League. They have come off the rails slightly but they only need a couple more victories to stay up, in all likelihood. With seven games left, and five of those at home, confidence is still there that they will get them.
BATTLE FOR SURVIVAL
I still think they will stay up. I was very confident up until a few weeks ago. There have been a couple of worrying away games, Wolves and Fulham, where they didn’t play anything like they can. That is worrying because you want to be playing well at this stage of the season. However, with so many games at home, I still fancy they will stay in the Premier League. I think they deserve to stay up because they have become everybody’s second team due to the refreshing nature of their play. I think they have enhanced the Premier League. But football isn’t a fairytale and they still need to get those wins to make sure they do stay up.
MAN OF THE MOMENT
Charlie Adam is massively important to Blackpool. He was discarded by Rangers, the club that he really wanted to play for, who said they didn’t want him. It was only Barnsley and Blackpool who tried to sign him in the summer of 2009, no-one else was interested and no-one else saw the potential in him. Blackpool had him on loan a couple of months before and you could see the lad had something. Blackpool spent £500,000 on him which may sound laughable to some Premier League teams but that was a lot of money. It has proved to be the best £500,000 they have ever spent. They will get at least £10 million when he does inevitably leave after the season ends. There are not many players like him. He can run with the ball, he can beat players, he has got a great shot on him, he scores goals and he makes the team tick. When he doesn’t play, they do look a different team because all the tactics are based around Adam.