Blackpool’s home defeat to Wigan Athletic on Saturday saw Ian Holloway’s side drop into the relegation zone for the first time in their debut Premier League season. While Wigan’s 3-1 away win at Bloomfield Road saw them climb out of the bottom three, many will begin to cast an eye on Blackpool’s alarming decline.
Blackpool appeared to take to the Premier League with relative ease, a 4-0 win in the reverse fixture at Wigan on the opening day outlining Blackpool’s intent to establish themselves in the top flight. Goals have not been hard to come by for Holloway’s men – they are the sixth-highest scorers in the league, having scored just three fewer than Manchester City. Meanwhile, leading scorer DJ Campbell finds himself joint-10th in the individual chart, just four short of the top three scorers.
However, Blackpool’s defensive frailty has seen them slip into a perilous position in the penultimate month of the season. With 69 goals conceded from their 33 matches played, they sit top of the more undesirable league of leakiest defences – the three conceded at against Wigan took them to 40 conceded since the turn of the year. While Blackpool created more chances than the visitors as well as forcing more corners, the manner in which the goals were conceded highlighted the flaws that could ultimately cost them their Premier League status.
The first, coming from a Blackpool set piece, saw the ball carelessly given away in the Wigan half by Craig Cathcart, who then lost his footing, allowing Hugo Rodellega to run through the Blackpool defence before slotting past returning goalkeeper Matthew Gilks in the Blackpool goal. There was little improvement as Wigan scored their second, again from Blackpool’s possession, after a casual throw in-field to talismanic captain Charlie Adam, and when he could not control the ball under pressure from Mohamed Diame Charles N’Zogbia duly drove at the heart of the Blackpool backline, before finding the net. While there was a hint of bad luck about Wigan’s third, a deflection wrong-footing Gilks, his position in a pack of three players on the 18-yard line was another sign of Blackpool’s defensive indiscipline.
Blackpool eventually found the net themselves, Campbell getting the consolation goal, however the conceded strikes cemented their three-a-game average this season. Campbell’s goal may have kept the Seasiders’ goal tally above the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool, but the defensive lapses keep their conceded goals way ahead of the rest of the league. After the euphoric scenes at Wembley last May, and the impressive, exciting start Blackpool made to their first Premier League season, 12 months later, they could face an altogether different scenario. With Adam seemingly set to leave the club in the summer regardless of the club’s success or failure this season, should Blackpool’s poor defensive form continue, their fans could be looking at a return to Championship football rather quicker than they had hoped.