What: English Premier League
Who: Blackpool (12th; 28 points) vs Manchester United (1st; 48 points)
When: Tuesday 25th January, 2011, at 19:30 UK Time
Where: Bloomfield Road, Blackpool, England

2011 Slump

Blackpool’s current 12th place standing would have been relished by the club’s supporters before the season began as the Tangerines seem to be in a quite healthy position in regards to their top flight survival. 2011 however, has been a tough year thus far for Ian Holloway’s team, who have lost four of their last five matches in the Premier League and also endured an FA Cup exit at the hands of Southampton, albeit with a second string side. This is all in sharp contrast to Blackpool’s performances in the first half of the campaign which earned the side plaudits from all corners after a bright start to the season, which included a famous win at Anfield against Liverpool.

The Bloomfield Road outfit don’t appear to be playing any worse though, which is a good sign as all of their recent league defeats have been by a one-goal margin. If Holloway can turn these narrow defeats into draws and the odd win, and if Blackpool can use the fact that many of their remaining matches (10 of the final 16) will be at Bloomfield Road, then a mid-table finish is the least that Tangerines fans can hope for.

Silencing The Critics

It has been said this season that Manchester United, while still unbeaten in the league, have yet to hit top gear with their performances. However another demolition, this time of Birmingham City on Saturday (5-0) suggests that Sir Alex Ferguson’s side is not only improving, but also in the midst of some fantastic form. This is a scary proposition for the rest of the Premier League and while talk of this team being the ‘New Invincibles’ has been quelled on many occasions, the truth is that 22 matches in and still undefeated, there is a real opportunity for the Red Devils to do something special this season.

Ferguson was still cautious after the weekend win over Birmingham, insisting that that title race is far from over. “We have some tough games ahead but hopefully the players can grasp the nettle. We have some experience. We have the squad. Hopefully we can manage all the games we have ahead”, said the legendary United boss.


Recent form

Blackpool 2-1 Liverpool (12/01; Premier League)
West Bromwich Albion 3-2 Blackpool (15/01; Premier League)
Blackpool 1-2 Sunderland (22/01; Premier League)

Manchester United:
Manchester United 1-0 Liverpool (09/01; FA Cup)
Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 Manchester United (16/01; Premier League)
Manchester United 5-0 Birmingham (22/01; Premier League)

Key absences

Blackpool: Billy Clarke; Chris Basham; Richard Kingson (doubt); DJ Campbell (doubt); Stephen Crainey

Manchester United: Michael Carrick (doubt); Rio Ferdinand (doubt); Owen Hargreaves; Ji-Sung Park (Asian Cup)

Players to watch

Blackpool – Charlie Adam: The Scottish midfielder has been in inspirational form for Blackpool this season. A real driving force from his central midfield position, Adam’s displays have been noticed by many Premier League sides with the likes of Liverpool and Aston Villa making offers for the player. Holloway has described some of these attempts as ludicrous, insisting that Adam’s worth is much more than has been bid (Liverpool’s recent bid was £4M), but reports the Scottish star has handed in a transfer request will test the Blackpool boss’s resolve. Surely, if Adam continues to show his fine range of passing ability he will be at a bigger Premier League side soon, whether Holloway lets him leave this month or not.

Manchester United – Dimitar Berbatov: While Wayne Rooney can’t seem to find the net, the silky smooth Bulgarian striker can’t stop scoring at the moment. Berbatov confirmed he is the main man at Old Trafford presently after a weekend where he bagged his third hat-trick of the season against Birmingham City. With 18 goals already it is shaping up to be a special season for Berbatov, who has been able to finally put together a complete campaign for United.

Match Prediction

Blackpool will not be intimidated when Manchester United come to town during this midweek clash. Ian Holloway’s men recently defeated Liverpool at Bloomfield Road and show little respect for more illustrious opposition, mounting attack after attack. It can’t be ignored though that United are in devastating form and this is traditionally the time of the season where they are at their strongest and Blackpool could be affected by Adam’s decision to hand in a transfer request. This looks set up to be another key win for Ferguson’s men as they march on towards the title. Blackpool 0-2 Manchester United.