Back in the nick of time

DJ Campbell in action against Arsenal
DJ Campbell in action against Arsenal
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OUR fans’ panellists were delighted to see DJ Campbell back against Arsenal, though most of them feel it’s at the other end of the park that Pool’s problems lie. But they all agree there are positives to take forward into a rather important match against Wigan.

FIONA MARTIN

There’s no shame in losing to Arsenal and there’s little to complain about. Well, if you ignore the refereeing performance anyway.

An improvement from Fulham and a return to the Blackpool we knew were in there somewhere.

The verve and panache were back, and some of the attacking play was delightful to watch – from both sides.

It was just a shame we couldn’t get the equaliser when we had Arsenal on the rocks. I think it was not getting the penalty that took the wind out of our sails a little but we had our chances.

It was so good to have DJ back – his presence makes such a difference.

Gary Taylor-Fletcher was excellent too and seemed to be at the centre of everything we did. We missed Vaughan’s composure but the slightly different system worked pretty well.

I’m getting sick of people talking about how poor our defence is. Yes, it’s not the best, but we don’t get credit for the things we do well. Cathcart and Evatt would be among many people’s players of the season, so they must be doing something right. Stephen Crainey too is unrecognisable from the player who got destroyed by Theo Walcott back in August.

This whole season has been one massive learning curve for everyone. It’s been a pleasure to be a part of it and there are still six games to go.

Wigan will be tough, tougher than Arsenal perhaps. We just have to remember to play our own game and not allow ourselves to get drawn into something more physical and scrappy.

JANE STUART

IF someone had told me at the back end of last week that we would still be above the relegation zone come Monday morning I would have bitten their hand off.

The results on Saturday could hardly have gone better, with all three W’s beneath us pulling off cracking defeats. Wolves did spectacularly well to lose 3-0 at home to Everton and I actually leapt and punched the air when Chelsea finally scored against Wigan.

We are now at the business end of the season and all of a sudden the failures of other teams can bring great pleasure.

Let’s face it, we need to get our kicks where we can at the moment as we aren’t winning too many this year. But of course all that will change over the coming weeks. We must all make a concerted push to generate a carnival atmosphere at Bloomfield Road for the next three oh-so-important matches.

I was pleased with the improvement in our style of play against Arsenal. We were dominant for good spells of the match and it was just unfortunate that their opening goal came against the run of play, immediately followed by a sucker punch second goal. It was not immediate but we did get our chins up and chests out and back in the game as it progressed.

We have spirit. We have stamina. We have Charlie. We have DJ back (hurray). We have goals up our sleeve. We have three home games coming up against teams we have beaten on their own turf. We have capacity home crowds, with Seasiders in every stand. We have belief. We have heart. We have togetherness. We have a good chance.

DAVE WHITE

WE are now into the run of home games that will probably define whether we achieve what we want this season, but I wasn’t expecting a lot from Sunday.

Despite a very spirited display from which we could take a fair few positives, if not points, Arsenal had a little bit too much for us.

Knowing the three teams below us lost on Saturday, I approached our game hoping we would give it a good go, bearing in mind the 6-0 scoreline at the Emirates in August. In the end we were a worthy match for a team who play very good football. We made a barnstorming start and at that point looked like we might get the better of them, but two goals which had most of the crowd saying ‘too easy’ left us with a mountain to climb.

However, we set about trying to climb it in our usual way, and not only did our goal bring us back into the game it meant we have scored against every team in the division – some achievement for a newly-promoted side.

I won’t go into the argument about decisions going for or against the ‘smaller’ club. Suffice to say that Lee Mason cannot possibly be a favourite ref of any Blackpool fan but in no way did he lose us this match. The better team won. They will almost certainly end the season without a trophy but for entertainment they are right up there with us!

There is no need to pontificate about the importance of the next three matches. Sunday’s atmosphere was great – we need all that and more over the next couple of weeks.

PHIL CORBETT

Another defeat, but unlike last week there were positives to be taken from the game.

After a decent start, we were undone by two goals yet again preying on our defensive naivete, and it could have been a couple more before half-time. However, we were snapping into tackles right from the start of the second half and won possession in decent positions, forcing Arsenal into mistakes.

One flowing move had DJ fouled in the area by Lehmann and the ball broke free to be dispatched by GTF.

The referee showed a yellow card for a foul in the build-up, yet the keeper remained unpunished. Surely he denied a clear goalscoring opportunity for Campbell and therefore should have gone off.

With Almunia injured in the warm-up, that would have put Van Persie in goal for 40 minutes and a completely different game ensues.

We then had a spell when we really should have equalised, Southern missing one great chance and DJ another.

We were then punished by a goal from Van Persie, who was at least five yards offside in the build-up. The linesman would no doubt say he wasn’t interfering, but being in a position to score behind the defender surely counts as gaining an advantage from an offside position.

All to play for on Saturday. We need something from the game to keep the dream alive.

TOM WILSON

I don’t know what it is with Lee Mason but he always seems to have it in for us with his dodgy decisions. He’s definitely a PNE fan in disguise!

Taylor-Fletcher’s penalty shout was absolutely stonewall and his failure to award it was an absolute travesty.

Charlie Adam would have buried the resulting spot-kick to equalise and we could have maybe gone on to snatch the points after a battling second half display.

Arsenal displayed superior quality in the opening period, though, exposing our creaky defence for all its inefficiencies. They could have been easily been 10-0 up at half-time and after Eboue rifled in their second I seriously believed it was the beginning of a landslide.

Credit to the lads, though – they pulled it back after the break and played for the shirt. If we can produce that same desire on Saturday we could pick up a vital victory.

Wigan at home will be one of our biggest tests yet. We are both fighting for our Premier League lives and both teams will be fired up. I would start with largely the same team that faced the Gunners as we provided the attacking threat that was missing at Fulham.

I doubt it will be a one-sided affair like the opening game of the season, but if we restore that positive mentality and plug some defensive gaps then three points can be achieved in a pivotal fixture.

PETER GILLATT

ACCEPTING that we were always going to find it difficult to get anything out of Arsenal, especially in the absence of the influential David Vaughan, this was for the most part back to the kind of Blackpool we’ve seen in our better displays this season.

Gary Taylor-Fletcher was excellent, and with the long-awaited return of the terrific, hard-working DJ Campbell we at least gave it our best shot.

If the golden chances that befell DJ and the effective Keith Southern had been converted, and had the referee not played advantage when Lehmann brought down DJ (and instead awarded the penalty and sent off the keeper), then we would have seen Robin van Persie in goal facing a rampant Pool.

Just maybe Arsenal might have cracked and the fans could have witnessed a famous win. Having said all that, it felt very much as though Arsenal were paying us a compliment by adopting our own all-out attacking policy and leaving space at the back. They could so easily have scored more themselves with ease as they play at a different level, with such speed and accuracy, though again there were many controversial decisions.

Very disappointing for me was the introduction of Reid, which seemed to rob us of any momentum at a crucial time in the game.

However, elsewhere there were lots of encouraging signs and we certainly don’t look like relegation candidates. If we can take Sunday’s enthusiasm, effort and belief into the remaining four home games, and the fans can provide the support they did against Arsenal, we will give ourselves every chance to stay up.

MICHAEL MORRISON

Blackpool deserved more from Sunday’s game but never got it because of one thing ... their defending.

Arsenal are a disciplined side renowned for playing fast, counter-attacking football but we matched them; no, we bettered them for the best part of 20 minutes.

But then we did our usual trick – we gifted them a goal. Offside? Arguably but that long ball should never have been played in the first place. And Robin van Persie should never have been given the space to cross to Diaby, who was also unmarked. He didn’t even have to run – he wandered into the middle of our box!

The second goal was a classic Gunners breakaway and most defences in the league would have been ripped to shreds by the build-up play, but if we had defended properly for the first, then our goal would have been the equaliser.

Our goal was fantastic, and one Arsenal would have been happy with scoring themselves, but how the keeper wasn’t sent off I’ll never know.

Referee Lee Mason’s game only got worse after he waved play on when GTF was later blatantly fouled in the box.

Things could have been so different on another day, but we have to play the cards we’ve been dealt. Let’s hope we have an ace up our sleeves for the Wigan game.