#EmiratesFACup: Three things we noticed

Unai Emery's debut in the Emirates FA Cup ended with a 3-0 win at Blackpool on Saturday evening.

Our head coach fielded a combination of both experienced senior players and younger talents - and these are the three things we noticed.


Whether it was a move enforced by Laurent Koscielny's late withdrawal or was always Emery's intention, we switched to a back four for this game, having predominantly used a three-man defence in recent weeks. We had been without a clean sheet in our past six matches, and although we conceded several chances against Blackpool, the shutout was a very welcome confidence boost for the backline.

There was still a makeshift feel to the defence, as Emery tried another combination centrally - this time pairing the experienced Stephan Lichtsteiner and Sokratis. On another day Blackpool could have made us pay for a lack of cohesion, but they were unable to find the net with any of their 11 attempts on goal.

It remains to be seen how serious Koscielny's back problem is, but with Shkodran Mustafi and Rob Holding also injured, Emery may have to shuffle his defensive pack yet again for our trip to West Ham next weekend.


Joe Willock netted only once in 12 under-23 appearances last season, but has now scored three times for the first team in just three outings this term. He has also scored three times from two Checkatrade Trophy games this term for our under-21 side.

Playing as the furthest forward of the three central midfielders here, Willock sniffed out his two opportunities like a striker. He was the first to react when Aaron Ramsey's free-kick cannoned back into a dangerous area after hitting the bar. Then he was rewarded for gambling at the far post, when it appeared Mark Howard would claim Alex Iwobi's low cross. That second goal, incidentally, was another example of Arsenal playing out from the back successfully.

Willock also showed his combative side during an impressive 90 minutes, winning a game-high 17 duels, and won a joint-high four tackles.

Still only 19, Willock is building on a very promising breakthrough season last term, and is proving to be a valuable member of Emery's squad, whose form is virtually demanding further inclusion in coming weeks. 

Combination: Here's how Joe Willock's second goal came to fruition


While it was an evening to remember for Joe, his fellow academy graduate Eddie Nketiah suffered a frustrating evening, missing a hat-trick of chances in the opening 45 minutes.

Playing as the lone striker, his first chance came less than three minutes in, when he was put through by Ainsley Maitland-Niles inside the box. The striker tried to slip the ball inside the near post, but only found the side-netting. Just four minutes later he was again set up by Maitland-Niles, this time stretching to make contact, only to shoot wide.

His third chance came in stoppage time, again going one-on-one after winning the ball well himself on the edge of the area. However, Howard was out well to push the shot wide.

He was replaced in the second half by Alexandre Lacazette, visibly disappointed not to have added to his two Gunners goals so far.

As Emery said afterwards in his post-match press conference, the positive he was in the right place to getting on the end of chances.

He didn't go hiding after missing the first chance, kept working for further opportunities, and will have learnt from another 64 minutes of first-team football.

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