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Arsenal get set for Emirates FA Cup third round

This Saturday will see us face Blackpool at Bloomfield Road in Unai Emery's very first Emirates FA Cup fixture.

We faced the Seasiders at Emirates Stadium in the Carabao Cup earlier this season, recording a 2-1 win - and now we head to the north-west for a second showdown.

The squad had their final training session on Friday and our photographer was on hand to capture it - here are some of the images that were sent back.

Pre-Match Report

Blackpool v Arsenal: The Brief

It’s no surprise that Unai Emery knows about our proud history in the FA Cup.

A student of the game, our head coach rattled off our achievements in his pre-match press conference. He clearly admires the traditions of English football - and it doesn’t get more traditional than the FA Cup.

We’ve won three of the last five, of course, and a record 13 overall. And our consistency is mightily impressive - last season’s third-round exit was our first at this stage since 1996.

That was an away game at lower-league opposition - Nottingham Forest - and a similar challenge awaits on Saturday when we visit Blackpool for our second cup tie against the Seasiders this season.

This page has all the key pre-match content: the latest team news, goals from the archive, match stats, an exclusive interview with Unai and an expert view of the opposition.

Scroll down for all of that - and remember to follow the game with us on Arsenal Nation Live via Arsenal.com or the Arsenal app, with build-up and analysis also on Facebook.

The Breakdown - Blackpool
Emery quote - Blackpool
Dangerman - Blackpool
AN Live - Blackpool

 

Press conference

Who could feature at Blackpool on Saturday?

Blackpool proved tricky opposition when we faced them in the Carabao Cup round of 16 back in October.

Stephan Lichtsteiner and Emile Smith Rowe scored to give us a 2-1 win over Terry McPhillips’ side, who ensured a nervous finale when Paudie O’Connor pulled a goal back midway through the second half.

Unai Emery was impressed with the Seasiders, and is expecting a similarly tough fixture at the weekend.

on if he’ll play a full strength squad v Blackpool…
We are going to be competitive. The priority is the next match, and that’s Blackpool. I am going to play with the players to be competitive. If we need some young players to do one mix, but finding this power to be stronger with them, we will do it. The priority now is Blackpool.

on team news…
This morning Dinos Mavropanos started to train after I think five months. That’s good news. Emile Smith Rowe trained with us this morning. Continuing with his injury and not OK to train with us is Mustafi, he has to recover from his small injury and continue working alone. Bellerin and Nacho Monreal, Mkhitaryan and also Mesut didn’t train this morning. Tomorrow is the last day, we are going to wait for tomorrow, for how we can be for Saturday.

on what he’s expecting from Blackpool…
Good afternoon. It’s a new competition we are going to start, the FA Cup. In the history, it’s been very important for us. Arsenal is the team that has won this competition 13 times, more than anyone else. It’s a title and it’s a possibility for us to do something important. We are going to start that at Blackpool. We know them because we played against them and we have the respect. We’ll prepare for the match with this respect for them, but also respect for this competition. It’s a way to [win] a title. We want to play and have positive things with our supporters in this way.

on the sort of side he could pick at Blackpool…
We trained this morning and tomorrow we are going to do the last training before this match. Tomorrow we will know how we can be with the players [and who could feature] but [we’ll play] with respect for this competition. I want to take a team with the players being competitive. The team for Saturday is the same, maybe we can share with some players who are playing less, or some young players, but thinking above all of finding a big performance there with our players. This is our idea at the beginning.

on when he first became aware of the FA Cup when growing up…
I know it’s very important for every English team. It’s a different competition, with a chance for a lot of teams. The first idea when I arrived here was to play for all the titles. Arsenal is in the history the best team in this competition, played 20 finals, won 13 times. This respect for our supporters and the competition I took quickly. I want to do something important and this is a big opportunity for us. It will be very difficult but we’re excited for this competition and are looking forward to starting on Saturday.

on if he’s been to Blackpool before…
No. I know it’s 90km from Liverpool and I know they’ve played in the Premier League.

on if he’s prepared for an unusual atmosphere with Blackpool fans allegedly in dispute with the owners…
When we played here against them in the Carabao Cup, we knew this history of this club. They aren’t in the best moment for that. But here against us at the Emirates they played very competitively and gave us a lot of difficult moments. I have a big respect for each team and I know they are one team now not in the best moment but the respect is there because it’s a very big opportunity for them to play against us with their supporters and live this important moment, finding the chances against us.

News

Team news: Ozil, Mustafi, Monreal, Bellerin

Mesut Ozil

Here's the latest team news update from our medical team, ahead of Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup third-round tie at Blackpool:

Mesut Ozil
Left knee. Being assessed ahead of Blackpool (a) on Saturday, January 5.

Shkodran Mustafi
Right hamstring. Being assessed ahead of Blackpool (a) on Saturday, January 5.

Nacho Monreal
Right hamstring. Being assessed ahead of Blackpool (a) on Saturday, January 5.

Hector Bellerin
Left calf. Being assessed ahead of Blackpool (a) on Saturday, January 5.

Dinos Mavropanos
Groin injury. Being integrated back into full training.

Emile Smith Rowe
Right hip. Expected to return to full training in two weeks.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Right foot. Fractured metatarsal. Expected to return to full training in February.

Rob Holding
Left knee. Recovering after surgery.

Danny Welbeck
Right ankle. Recovering after surgery.

News

Will Bukayo Saka get a chance in the cup?

Bukayo Saka

Bukayo Saka will make it three competitions in a shade more than five weeks if he gets another first-team chance on Saturday.

The 17-year-old made his senior debut against Vorskla Poltava in Kiev in November and got a second Europa League game under his belt against Qarabag last month.
 
Saka kicked off 2019 with a Premier League debut against Fulham - becoming the first player born in 2001 to feature in the competition - and he now looks likely to be involved in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup at Blackpool.
 
Unai Emery’s resources have been stretched over a punishing festive period, but the flipside of an injury list is the opportunity it presents to the likes of Saka.
 
"I am using different players because of injuries, but it is important for us to give chances to the young players," said the head coach.
 
"The young players, like Saka, he has debuted in his last match and he was playing because at the moment we haven’t a lot of players who have the possibility to play wide right or wide left.
 
"Saka is in the academy, growing up with good performances. It is the beginning, I hope, of a long career here in Arsenal.
 
"He is improving a lot and, although he is very young, he is training with us and understanding our tactics with the other players. He is coming with us on a lot of matches and living our moments with the team.
 
"Now he starts to play in the games and also in the Premier League. He is going to have a career but we need to help him also with a strategy for this.
 
"We have other players the same – Emile, Willock, Nketiah - we need to give them chances while thinking about a good performance with a good combination [in the team]. On Saturday I am going to think like that."

Quotes

Emery on Cech, Lacazette and young players

Petr Cech applauds the fans after the Manchester City game

Unai Emery will lead us into his first Emirates FA Cup tie on Saturday afternoon when we visit League One side Blackpool.

Ahead of the fixture, Unai spoke with newspaper journalists following his press conference. Among the topics discussed were his relationship with Alexandre Lacazette, Petr Cech's future and whether he will play this weekend and his assessment of the talent that our young players possess.

Read on to find out exactly what our head coach said:

on speaking with Lacazette...
I spoke with him individually two times in the last two weeks, but speaking about what we need in each match and also with him. I am very happy with him because he is helping us and he’s scoring. But then it is how we can do the balance with the team tactically and how we can do the combination with different players. When Auba and Laca are bioh playing together, sometimes we need this balance, sometimes both like a striker, other times Auba more right or left. But the most important for me is their commitment when the team needs something tactically they can be OK and prepared to do that. Most important for me for Lacazette is his work, his goals and then sometimes can play more or less minutes.

on whether Cech will play at Blackpool...
We don't decide today. Tomorrow [Friday], I will decide but we want to give a chance for a different goalkeeper to play and I think he is the first option.

on his long-term future at Arsenal...
I don’t know now. This is a question for the club and the player to deal with our necessary things with the goalkeeper. But when he played at the start of the season, he did very well. He was very good behaviour, commitment and performance. Then when he had the injury Leno started playing with a big performance also and then he recovered his position on the bench. But I am happy with him. All situations like this, we will speak with the player and with the club but at the moment, I want his focus the same, each training, each match. He is going to play Saturday to give us his performance and then we are going to decide also within what is the best for him and for the club.

on if it's hard for him to accept being a substitute...
His respect for our decisions is very big and for the other goalkeeper. His commitment has not changed with his new situation. I am happy because we need that respect between us. Petr Cech has very big experience and he is continuing with very good performances and the most important thing is that each player can continue with his behaviour in different situations when they are in the squad., And today his behaviour with his different situation is good.

on whether Smith Rowe might go out on loan...
In the summer there was interest but now it is not our interest.

on whether he's been surprised by the amount of talented young players at Arsenal...
I usually work with young players and give them the opportunity to work with us. Give them chances to play but only if we can get the victory. My responsibility is to work with them and here I want to do that. But each player is going to earn in his way more or less chances with his performances and his everyday work. When they are playing with Freddie in the Under-23 we are looking at their performances and their attitude, if it’s OK or not. And at the moment we are going to continue in this way. We know they can train with us and start playing matches, but it is very difficult. We need to help them and give them these chances.

Press conference

Every word: Emirates FA Cup press conference

Unai Emery will get his first taste of the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday, when we travel to Blackpool in the late kick-off.

Our head coach held his pre-match press conference at London Colney on Thursday afternoon and discussed his FA Cup memories, the latest team news and responded to reports linking Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas with a move to north London.

Read on for the full transcript:

on what he’s expecting from Blackpool…
Good afternoon. It’s a new competition we are going to start, the FA Cup. In the history, it’s been very important for us. Arsenal is the team that has won this competition 13 times, more than anyone else. It’s a title and it’s a possibility for us to do something important. We are going to start that at Blackpool. We know them because we played against them and we have the respect. We’ll prepare for the match with this respect for them, but also respect for this competition. It’s a way to [win] a title. We want to play and have positive things with our supporters in this way.

on the sort of side he could pick at Blackpool…
We trained this morning and tomorrow we are going to do the last training before this match. Tomorrow we will know how we can be with the players [and who could feature] but [we’ll play] with respect for this competition. I want to take a team with the players being competitive. The team for Saturday is the same, maybe we can share with some players who are playing less, or some young players, but thinking above all of finding a big performance there with our players. This is our idea at the beginning.

on when he first became aware of the FA Cup when growing up…
I know it’s very important for every English team. It’s a different competition, with a chance for a lot of teams. The first idea when I arrived here was to play for all the titles. Arsenal is in the history the best team in this competition, played 20 finals, won 13 times. This respect for our supporters and the competition I took quickly. I want to do something important and this is a big opportunity for us. It will be very difficult but we’re excited for this competition and are looking forward to starting on Saturday.

on if he watched a cup final on TV growing up…
Usually I followed every competition. I don’t remember which matches exactly but I know this competition is very important for Arsenal.

on if he’s been to Blackpool before…
No. I know it’s 90km from Liverpool and I know they’ve played in the Premier League.

on if he’s prepared for an unusual atmosphere with Blackpool fans in dispute with the owners…
When we played here against them in the Carabao Cup, we knew this history of this club. They aren’t in the best moment for that. But here against us at the Emirates they played very competitively and gave us a lot of difficult moments. I have a big respect for each team and I know they are one team now not in the best moment but the respect is there because it’s a very big opportunity for them to play against us with their supporters and live this important moment, finding the chances against us.

on Liverpool v Man City, what could happen and who he wants to win…
At the moment they are the two best teams in the Premier League, also with Tottenham in this moment. It’s a very big match for all the supporters of football. I am going to watch it like a football supporter, to learn and to take more information on the two teams, tactically and individually. I think it’s a great match in football.

on if it would help us if City won tonight…
We can only respond in our way. We aren’t in the top four and we have three points difference to Chelsea. Liverpool and Manchester City, they are far [in front], Tottenham maybe also, but we need the motivation to do one way, to get closer. The difference [in points] between Liverpool and us is big.

on if he’ll play a full strength squad v Blackpool…
We are going to be competitive. The priority is the next match, and that’s Blackpool. I am going to play with the players to be competitive. If we need some young players to do one mix, but finding this power to be stronger with them, we will do it. The priority now is Blackpool.

on reports linking Keylor Navas with Arsenal…
Not true.

on if there’s interest…
I don’t know. We never speak about one goalkeeper because I think - and it’s true - we are very happy with the three goalkeepers we have now. We’ve never spoken about Keylor Navas.

on if there have been talks with Juventus about Ramsey…
I don’t know. I want his focus every day with us on training and thinking for the next match, which is against Blackpool. I am looking at him and he’s very concentrated with us now. On Tuesday, he scored when he played 15 minutes, and he gave a good performance. I want that from him, and also he needs to [look] at his future. But I want him in the present with us. At the end of the season is the moment he can go to one team or another team.

on Mesut Ozil’s future at the club…
I am only waiting [for him] to be OK to play.

on team news…
This morning Dinos Mavropanos started to train after I think five months. That’s good news. Emile Smith Rowe trained with us this morning. Continuing with his injury and not OK to train with us is Mustafi, he has to recover from his small injury and continue working alone. Bellerin and Nacho Monreal, Mkhitaryan and also Mesut didn’t train this morning. Tomorrow is the last day, we are going to wait for tomorrow, for how we can be for Saturday.

on if Ozil could be involved…
This morning, he didn’t train.

on Holding and Welbeck…
They are progressing well but it’s long injuries. Thy are working with the doctor.

 

Press conference

Emery on Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Keylor Navas

Unai Emery held his first pre-match press conference of 2019 on Thursday afternoon - and with the January window now open, our head coach fielded plenty of transfer-related questions.

Real Madrid’s Keylor Navas, Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil were all talking points, and here’s what Emery said when asked about the trio.

on reports linking Navas with Arsenal…
Not true.

on if there’s interest…
I don’t know. We never speak about one goalkeeper because I think - and it’s true - we are very happy with the three goalkeepers we have now. We’ve never spoken about Keylor Navas.

on if there have been talks with Juventus about Ramsey…
I don’t know. I want his focus every day with us on training and thinking for the next match, which is against Blackpool. I am looking at him and he’s very concentrated with us now. On Tuesday, he scored when he played 15 minutes, and he gave a good performance. I want that from him, and also he needs to [look] at his future. But I want him in the present with us. At the end of the season is the moment he can go to one team or another team.

on Ozil's future at the club…
I am only waiting [for him] to be OK to play.

on if Ozil could be involved…
This morning, he didn’t train.

Fixtures

Premier League
Ticket Info
The Emirates FA Cup
Ticket Info

Results

Premier League
The Emirates FA Cup