The Arsenal and Wolves loanees who pose the biggest threats for Blackpool ahead of Sunderland fixture

Sunderland are preparing to face Blackpool at the Stadium of Light – but what can they expect from Michael Appleton’s side?

The Tangerines have dropped to 19th in the Championship table following three successive defeats, including Saturday’s 1-0 loss against Norwich.

To find out more we caught up with Blackpool writer Matt Scrafton from our sister title the Blackpool Gazette on the latest episode of The Roar Podcast

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Wolves loanee Theo Corbeanu playing for Blackpool.

How would you assess Blackpool’s start to the season?

MS: “It’s been a bit of a mixed bag really.

“If this game had come sort of three or four weeks ago and you'd asked this question before the three straight defeats, there was a lot of positivity.

“I think it’s fair to say when Michael Appleton took over it was a mixed reaction and he was no one’s number one choice. Neil Critchley’s departure in the summer left the club in a bit of a hole really given how important he was to the club.

“The football being played is better to watch than under Neil Critchley. Neil Critchley was very structured and disciplined off the ball and it was very successful even though it wasn’t always the best watch.

“There was a feeling that the football was getting better this season and that the results were just as good, signs of progress. Then all of a sudden three defeats on the spin, which can happen in this division, has caused a bit of concern.”

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Who are their key players?

MS: “Theo Corbeanu is the first name that comes to mind in an attacking sense. In the void left by Josh Bowler he’s sort of taken that mantle of being the winger who can get at the full-backs.

“The end product isn’t always there right now but in terms of attacking threat it often comes down to him.

“They have a midfielder on loan from Arsenal called Charlie Patino who is an excellent player and you can tell by his ability on the ball and technique he’s above the Championship but he’s only 18.

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“Their captain at the back Marvin Ekpiteta is probably the standout player of the last two or three years, he’s sort of summed up Blackpool’s rise from League One to the Championship and came from non-league about three years ago.”

How will they approach the game against Sunderland?

MS: “It will be a 4-3-3, that has been Appleton’s formation throughout his career.

“A couple of times because of injuries they have been forced to go to a back three which has never really suited the team.

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“Two of those three defeats have come with a back three where it just didn’t look right so that could be another factor.

“In terms of how they approach it, I think Blackpool have, despite the three defeats in a row, started games pretty well.

“On Saturday for the first 20 minutes they made Norwich look really average but the issue has been they don’t get the goal after all the pressure and when you are playing a side like Norwich they will have a spell at some point.

“I imagine Blackpool will look to start quickly and get that first goal which will be key.”

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What’s your predicted line-up?

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MS: “Maxwell, Gabriel, Ekpiteta, Thorniley, Thompson, Connolly, Patino, Wright, Corbeanu, Poveda, Madine.”