Holloway deserves his year in the spotlight

Holloway deserves his year in the spotlight

Arsenal vs Blackpool
Full Match Preview
Kick off: 15:00

Many journalists have already marked this fixture as the day when Blackpool begin to realise just how tough the Premier League will be. Words like “nightmare” have already been used to describe what will follow kick off for the Seasiders this afternoon.

They couldn’t be more wrong. The minnows know exactly what awaits for them this season, despite a fairytale start at Wigan last week, and they are prepared to face it head on with refreshing honesty and humour.

None exemplifies this attitude better than the irrepressible Ian Holloway. Too few managers approach a press conference with the aim of being totally honest, telling journalists exactly what he thinks of each issue they put to him without echoing the same old tired cliches over and over again.

Just take his comments on the way his club is being run financially:

“We still need seven or eight players if we are to reach the January window in some sort of shape. The trick is getting your top earners sorted out on sensible money, then you can pin everyone else down under that. You can control the other Herberts by telling them, “Excuse me, you’re not as good as him, you’re not worth as much, so shut up and get out of my office”.

‘But if you’ve got too big a lid on it, and your best player is on 220 grand a week, how can you make sense of what the others should be on? Can you say, “There’s two grand a week, off you go”? I don’t think so. You get average players earning far more than they should, and that’s when the trouble starts.’

Ahead of the game he also lauded Wenger as a “genius”, and admitted that he even wants to come down to London Colney to watch the Frenchman at work, to learn from it and add it to his own managerial style so he can take himself forward and with him his Blackpool side who seem to share his ambition to learn from the best in what could be the launchpad for a successful top flight career whether they stay with Blackpool or leave.

But as well as the breathtaking realism he displays, there’s no doubt what journalist’s really look forward to are his quirky side comments and entertaining anecdotes.

“I’m still desperate to beat [Wenger]. I lost at cards to my wife the other night and was fuming, because I hate losing at anything. In life, you aspire to be the best at everything.

We might end up losing by the most embarrassing scoreline in Premier League history, or we could pull off the shock of the century.”

I for one hope he enjoys more of the latter than the former, just not starting today.

Talking Tactics

Having lost Samir Nasri to injury this week, there is some some good news for the Gunners as they look to welcome back World Cup winner and club captain Cesc Fabregas to the side after he missed last week’s trip to Anfield. Johan Djourou also returns but both he and the Spaniard may only be fit enough for the bench. Robin van Persie is pushing for a start after a substitute role on Sunday.

In that case Alex Song should be used in central defence as Vermaelen’s partner, with Diaby playing as the holding midfielder with Tomas Rosicky likely to take Samir Nasri’s slot in midfield, although hopefully with Jack Wilshere pushed further forward than he played last weekend.

With Arsenal likely to dominate possession I’d like to see Kieran Gibbs and Emmanuel Eboue get the nod ahead of Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna at full back, both replacements offering far more going forward than the latter pair.

Theo Walcott will hope to take his place on the right wing, whilst Andrey Arshavin will be lucky to retain his place on the left wing after a poor performance against Liverpool, having previously admitted he is carrying an injury. In my opinion Carlos Vela deserves a chance to shine if the Russian is indeed left on the bench.

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