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Blackpool’s Christmas Schedule; How Will They Fare?




The Christmas period is renowned for being a busy period for every club, with fixtures coming thick and fast, and this is no different for Blackpool this season.


Christmas time is, historically, the time of year where Blackpool struggle. In their promotion season in the 2009-10 season, Blackpool managed just two wins in eight games, between the 21st November and the 16th January.


In the 2011-12 season, Blackpool managed just three wins in 10 leauge games over the same period. Even during Blackpool's more recent promotion from League One, during that same period, they found themselves winning only three of their nine league games.


It certainly is a worrying time in the fixture list for Blackpool, and with the fixtures coming so quickly in League One, there is no room for mistake. Injuries and fitness issues can pile up, whilst a run of bad form could leave them adrift of the top six.


We take a look at Blackpool's fixture list over the festive period, and analyse how the club will manage, including their rearranged FA Cup tie against Forest Green Rovers.



Cambridge

Blackpool kick off their festive fixture list with a long trip to Cambridge in the league, who find themselves struggling one again in League One.


Last season, Cambridge survived relegation through the skin of their teeth, recording a 2-0 win over Forest Green Rovers on the final day of the season, to keep them in the division.


This time around, they find themselves outside of the bottom four, currently residing in 18th place, five points above Fleetwood Town in 21st.


They are not in good form either, with the side not winning in any of their last five matches, with their last victory coming at home against Carlisle in late October.


Blackpool will need to keep an eye on Gassan Ahadme, however. The on loan striker from Ipswich has scored Cambridge's last three goals, including two late goals against Charlton which rescued them an unlikely draw after being two goals down.


He now finds himself joint top scorer in the league for Cambridge, alongside Fejiri Okenabirhie, both sit on five goals.


Whilst Blackpool's away form has not been anything to admire this season, they did beat Portsmouth 4-0 in their last away game, and will be hoping that they can continue on from that performance.


Jordan Rhodes scored a brace last time out against Carlisle, meaning he has now scored 13 league goals for The Seasiders this season, whilst CJ Hamilton and Andy Lyons put in impressive performances at full back, with the latter grabbing the third goal for Blackpool.





Forest Green Rovers or Scarborough

Forest Green Rovers and Scarborough relied on a first round replay to separate the two sides, with Forest Green winning 5-2 in the replay, sending them into the second round of the FA Cup, where they would travel to face Blackpool at Bloomfield Road.


However, days before the game was due to be played, The FA postponed the game due to an ongoing investigation into Forest Green fielding an ilegible player, which caused frustration with Blackpool boss Neil Critchley.


The FA have since ruled that Forest Green and Scarborough had to play each other for a third time, to settle the outcome of the tie on the 12th December, with the winner travelling to Bloomfield Road on the 19th; Forest Green won this game 4 - 2.


This tie will give Critchley the opportunity to allow some of his squad players to get some minutes, and players like Norburn to gain some much needed game time after recently returning from injury.


Blackpool will be looking to progress as far as they can in this competition, and will be hoping they can make it through into the third round, where they will travel to Nottingham Forest in January.




Bristol Rovers

Following that FA Cup fixture, Blackpool's focus will then return to league action, with a tricky game against Bristol Rovers at Bloomfield Road.


Bristol Rovers were promoted in the most extraordinary fashion in the 2021-22 season, as they needed to win on the final day of the season, whilst relying on other results to go there way, and for there to be a big goal swing in their favour.


Northampton won their final game against Barrow 3-1, meaning Rovers were up against in. But, they pulled out an incredible 7-0 win against Scunthorpe United, to sneak into the final automatic promotion spot by a single goal.


They then finished last season in 17th place, seven points clear of the relegation places. This season, they have fared much better, as they currently sit in 13th place.


They have hit a stumbling block in recent weeks, however, following a loss against Derby County, and back to back 1-1 draws against Leyton Orient and Cheltenham at home.


Blackpool will be hoping to capitalise on this poor form, and inflict further misery on the travelling team.





Burton Albion

After the visit of Bristol Rovers, Blackpool find themselves travelling to Burton Albion for their Boxing Day fixture.


The Seasiders have not played Burton Albion since the very first game of the season, where a dominant performance saw Blackpool run out 2-0 victors.


A lot has changed since that game of course. Burton looked a side destined for a relegation scrap in that game but have pulled out a four point advantage on the bottom four.


Burton did put a good run of form together between September and October, but since then, they have not won in their last six, losing five of those fixtures, and scoring just two goals in the process.


The Seasiders will be hoping to continue their good form against Burton, having not lost against them since 2019.


Cole Stockton will be an obvious threat, having scored 34 goals in last two seasons in League One for Morecambe.


Another player Blackpool will need to keep an eye out for is their former winger, Bez Lubala, who will be hoping to impress after a less than impressive stint at Blackpool.




Port Vale

Blackpool hit the road again again just three days after their trip to Burton Albion to face Port Vale.


Vale had a brilliant start to the season. After losing their opening game against Barnsley 7-0, they then won five out of their next six league games, including wins agains the likes of Charlton, Oxford and Reading.


Since that good run, they have been dreadful. 11 games without a win, until their recent visit to Exeter City, where they won 1-0, has seen them drop down the table at an alarming rate.


In the earlier meeting between the two, at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool were the dominant side, constantly testing the Vale goal, with 14 shots, four on target, to Vale's nine shots, one on target. It was nevertheless a goalless draw.


This time around, Blackpool will be hoping to find the back of the net on more than one occasion, to ease themselves to an away win.


There is one man that has ties to Blackpool that many may not know about, Ben Garrity. Port Vale's top goal scorer in the league this season used to be on the books at Blackpool during the 2020-21 season, but failed to make a single appearance.


Since then, he has frequently found the back of the net for Port Vale, scoring 12 goals in their 2021-22 promotion campaign in League Two, and he already has six goals this season.




Lincoln

The final fixture that will wrap up Blackpool's hectic Christmas period, is a New Years Day game at home against Lincoln City.


The pair know each other well, having entertained their travelling fans in the Leauge One Playoff Final in the 2020-21 season, in which Blackpool came from behind to win 2-1.


The Seasiders were humiliated by The Imps earlier in the season. Two penalties and an Earhahon goal saw The Seasiders lose 3-0, who had captain Ollie Norburn sent off late in the game.


It will be a tough game for both sides, who sit 8th and 9th respectively at the moment, but it provides for a very intriguing fixture.


It provides Blackpool with their biggest test over the Christmas period, and going into 2024. Should they win, it could set them up for an entertaining second half of the season. Should they lose, however, there may be some investment needed to help push them over the line.





That wraps it up for Blackpool in 2023, and for their festive fixture list. There are a lot of potential banana skins in there, and some tough home fixtures to come, but Blackpool will be hoping to take the majority of the points from these games, and improve on their away form.


Only time will tell, and injuries and fitness can cause massive disruptions to these games. Blackpool will need a relatively clean bill of health to get through these games unscathed, and they need their entire squad performing to their full potential throughout.


One thing is for sure, and that is there is plent of football to play for Blackpool over the coming weeks, and there is plenty left to play after it. This set of fixtures will surely set them up nicely for the second half of the season.




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