Ahead of the Game

Back on the 1st December, I questioned whether the upcoming six games would prove to be the defining part of the season. ‘Pool faced a particularly tough run of fixtures:
  • Manchester United (h)
  • Stoke City (a)
  • Tottenham Hotspur (h)
  • Liverpool (h)
  • Sunderland (a)
  • Manchester City (a)

The best I was possibly expecting was six points, and even that looked difficult. More importantly I was hoping ‘Pool would avoid a confidence-bashing run of defeats. In the end, with all three home games postponed because of the weather it was an incredible effort to win two of the three surviving matches, with ‘Pool nearly taking a share of the spoils at Eastlands.

Looking forward to the next batch of fixtures, January will perhaps be an even more challenging month with five more league fixtures still to play as well as an unwanted trip to Southampton in the FA Cup. ‘Pool must play three mid-week matches, and depending on how the cup tie goes, could face an extra two games in January with the potential replay and 4th round tie taken into account. Focusing solely on the Premier League however, as I’m sure Ian Holloway will do, the Seasiders will face, weather permitting, the following opposition:
  • Birmingham City (h)
  • Liverpool (h)
  • West Bromwich Albion (a)
  • Sunderland (h)
  • Manchester United (h)

On paper it’s probably a more friendly set of fixtures, with four home games among them, but with exhaustion sure to take its toll and squad rotation bound to play a part, expectations need to be realistic. From here on in, a point per game will see Blackpool avoid relegation comfortably, so a conservative target of five points does not seem beyond the team. Fewer than that though will likely see the Seasiders edge closer to the relegation zone.

To have 25 points at the turn of the year is beyond all pre-season expectations, but the Premier League has seen collapses before, and Holloway’s side will be eager to maintain their levels and cast aside all comparisons to Burnley and Hull.