After a disappointing draw with Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup on Saturday, Blackpool return to league action on Tuesday night against Coventry City, who currently sit at the foot of the Championship. Here's the Up the 'Pool match preview:
1. The Last Time Out
The two sides shared the spoils back in late September in a lively 2-2 draw under the floodlights at the Ricoh Arena. The first half was almost entirely dominated by the Seasiders, and had a Craig Sutherland goal dubiously ruled offside early on - the young Scot finished neatly after a great pass from Gary Taylor-Fletcher and the goal should have stood. 'Pool did take the lead shortly thereafter when Taylor-Fletcher got on the end of an Ian Evatt long diagonal to lash past Joe Murphy in the Coventry goal. The rest of the half was host to exhibition football from the visitors, but for all their possession they failed to get a second goal with the home side on the back foot.
After the break, Coventry came out fighting as Blackpool took their foot off the gas. The equaliser for the Sky Blues came in highly controversial circumstances - Evatt, struggling with an injury, twice went down in need of treatment but as Blackpool sought to bring on a substitute when it emerged the Coventry-born defender could no longer continue, the referee Andy Woolmer allowed the home team to take a corner before the change could be made. Somewhat inevitably Blackpool conceded from the corner and from there the momentum was firmly in Coventry's favour as they added a second goal minutes later - Gary Deegan and Lukas Jutkiewicz the Coventry scorers.
However, in what has become something of a specialty this season, Blackpool rescued a point with a goal in stoppage time courtesy of a Keith Southern header from a Stephen Crainey corner. It was Southern's only goal of the campaign so far, with the likable midfielder making a welcome comeback against Sheffield Wednesday after a recent cancer scare. The previous encounter also saw Angel Martinez make his debut for Blackpool, but both men are likely miss out this time around with fierce competition in that area of the pitch - Southern required stitches after a clash with David Prutton on Saturday, while Angel will surely make way for Barry Ferguson at the base of the midfield.
2. The Key Stats
- Blackpool have now scored an average of 1.69 goals in their home games this season, failing to score only 15% of the time at Bloomfield Road
- Coventry have scored an average of 0.46 goals per away game this season, failing to score in 54% of their away fixtures
- The most common away result for Coventry this season has been a 1-0 defeat, occuring 31% of the time
- Blackpool have kept a clean sheet in 46% of their home games this season, conceding an average of 0.69 goals per game at Bloomfield Road
- Coventry have not won an away game in the Championship this season, losing 77% of their matches on the road
3. The Key Men
Blackpool - Lomana Lua Lua
Despite often being a frustrating player to watch, Lomana Lua Lua's absence through injury has been a noticeable one, albeit not necessarily reflected in the results. Blackpool have picked up a draw and a win without Lua Lua, but had to come from behind on both occasions against Ipswich and Crystal Palace respectively. The acrobatic Congolese striker has an unpredictable element to his game which can be crucial when teams defend in a well-organised manner. It is expected Lua Lua will return from injury on Tuesday night and his invention could be important.
Coventry City - Hermann Hreidarsson
Despite being bottom of the table for the majority of the season, Coventry's defence surprisingly hasn't been the biggest problem, with the 16th best defensive record in the Championship and five clean sheets to their name. However, the signing of Icelandic veteran Hermann Hreidarsson is a boost to the Sky Blues, especially now that goals could be even harder to come by following the departure of Lukas Jutkiewicz to Middlesbrough. Coventry triumphed 3-1 over the Teeside club in their last outing, with Hreidarsson part of the back four that day having signed only two weeks ago until the end of the season.
Blackpool - Stephen Crainey
Ian Holloway chose to rest his first choice left back on Saturday, with Bob Harris having another opportunity to impress in the FA Cup. Harris did well and was committed in the tackle, but lacked the attacking threat of his fellow Scot. Whereas Crainey will often be found trying to overlap on the left flank, Harris was often found much deeper, appearing a little reluctant to bomb forward and create the necessary width Blackpool's game often requires. Against a Coventry team likely to be happy with a point, how 'Pool's full backs attack may be crucial to the final result.
Coventry City - Alex Nimely
Another recent acquisition, Alex Nimely joined Coventry on loan until the end of the season from Manchester City. Like Hreidarsson, Nimely also made his Sky Blues debut in the 3-1 victory over Middlesbrough and marked the day with a goal having turned out for Tony Mowbray's side earlier in the season without netting in nine matches on loan. There is a lot of weight on the shoulders of the 20 year old Liberian, with Coventry in desperate need of goals - so far City have the third worst scoring record in the division. Andy Thorn will be hoping Nimely can continue to find the back of the net over the coming months to give his side any hope of avoiding the drop.
4. The Form Guide
- Blackpool are 6th in the form table based on the last six matches, winning three, drawing two and losing one
- Coventry are 8th in the form table based on the last six matches, winning three and losing three
- Blackpool are now unbeaten in their last six league games at Bloomfield Road, having lost only twice at home all season
- Coventry have lost their last six away games, with their last away point coming in a 1-1 draw at Doncaster Rovers at the end of October
Up The 'Pool Prediction
Anything less than three points for Blackpool would have to be seen as a below par result, and one need only look at Coventry's wretched away record to suggest that this is the most likely outcome. Three wins out of their last six matches does show some signs of life for Andy Thorn's side, but as Blackpool look to kick on and target the play-off positions (or higher), a home win is vital.
Coventry struggle to score goals, and if Blackpool can get a rare first half lead, it could be one way traffic. I'll go for a 3-0 win for Blackpool.