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Arsenal will be looking to book their place in the quarter finals of the Carabao Cup when they take on Blackpool at the Emirates this evening.
11-match winning run in all competitions came to an end with a 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace on Sunday afternoon that has left us sitting fourth in the Premier League table and four points adrift of leaders Manchester City.
The players seemed tired, which isn’t a surprise given it was our third game in six days which included two away matches – one in Portugal – so Unai Emery is expected to make wholesale changes to his starting eleven this evening ahead of our crucial clash with Liverpool on Saturday.
Arsenal eased passed Brentford 3-1 in the previous round while Blackpool beat QPR 2-0 to earn a trip to north London but Terry McPhillips’ side come in to the game sitting 12th in League One after losing to Fleetwood at the weekend so we should be confident of progressing to the next round.
Emery will rest several of his key men with Bernd Leno, Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka, Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette all expected to be given the night off.
Petr Cech will start in goal after recovering from a hamstring injury but Hector Bellerin has been ruled out with a thigh problem that he picked up at the weekend while Laurent Koscielny and Dinos Mavropanos remain unavailable.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles is in contention after recovering from a leg fracture and he could start in midfield while youngster Emile Smith Rowe should get another chance to impress. Sokratis, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Aaron Ramsey, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Danny Welbeck are all pushing for recalls.
Sead Kolasinac is back in training after missing the last three games with a hamstring injury but he’s unlikely to be risked tonight while Nacho Monreal is also missing with his own hamstring complaint. So we could see Carl Jenkinson making his first appearance in two years.
Arsenal graduate Marc Bola should feature against his former club but Blackpool will be without Donervon Daniels and Armand Gnanduillet.
Blackpool XI: Howard; Nottingham, Heneghan, Tilt, Bola; Spearing, Guy, Thompson; Feeney, Delfouneso, Cullen
Arsenal 3-0 Blackpool: Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 14 home matches against Blackpool and the visitors have won just one of their last 26 away cup games against top flight opposition so it’s no surprise we’re the red hot favourites tonight. Despite fielding a weakened side, I expect Arsenal to ease to a 3-0 victory and book our place in the quarter finals with Welbeck on the score-sheet.