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Blackpool v Accrington Stanley - Sky Bet League One

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Talking Tactics: What can Sunderland expect from Blackpool?

Sunderland’s automatic promotion chances hinge on collecting three points against Blackpool, who have flown up the league table since Christmas. Can we use the loss of Elliot Embleton to our advantage?

Photo by Dave Howarth - CameraSport via Getty Images

Sunderland decided to loan Elliot Embleton to Blackpool in January, and he’s played a significant role in The Tangerines’ fantastic form recently. I have analysed data from the previous six matches, and had a look if anything can be learned for the upcoming fixture.

Games Analysed

Blackpool 3 – 1 Peterborough; Blackpool 2 – 2 Plymouth; Swindon 0 – 2 Blackpool; Blackpool 4 – 1 Gillingham; Lincoln 2 – 2 Blackpool; Blackpool 0 – 0 Accrington

Loan Watch

Embleton since joining Blackpool has started 9 matches, scoring one goal and contributing to three assists. I have compiled a few visuals on Embleton’s progress below.

At Sunderland, Embleton never featured as a starter and Blackpool has deployed him in a more attacking position. Embleton has 77% passing accuracy since joining Blackpool.


Blackpool used 4-2-3-1 until drawing against Plymouth, and since then have switched to a 4-4-2. Following two draws v Lincoln and Accrington, and with Embleton ineligible to play, it may be possible for Blackpool to switch their formation again.


For the Peterborough and Plymouth matches, Blackpool used a 4-2-3-1 formation. What is very interesting about this is how high the full-backs are for Blackpool (29 LB, 2 RB). When I watched some highlights, you could see that Blackpool do leave space behind the full backs, and the visual shows the fullbacks play extremely high up the pitch. Elliot Embleton (32) is playing off the forward in the attacking midfielder role in these two games.


These next four games v Swindon, Gillingham, Lincoln and Accrington see them switch to a 4-4-2. This resorts to Embleton switching to right midfield. Once again, the high playing fullbacks (29 LB, 2 & 20 RB) are easy to spot.

Now playing two forwards, Blackpool has a good mix between Jerry Yates (9) who is a clinical finisher and Ellis Simms (19) who is more of a physical forward. They are very old school like a Quinn and Phillips partnership upfront.

Heat Maps

Blackpool do try and play nice possession-based football, and like to build up from the very back. The heat map shows generally that their centra defender’s get the ball and start the distribution of the football.

Their fullbacks, if you recall, play very high up, so it means the centre backs will usually start with the football.

Like many teams I have covered and analysed, you find teams have a preference on sides to attack - this is no different for Blackpool who likes to play down the right-hand side.

Now, this is when not having Elliot Embleton playing may hurt Blackpool. Demetri Mitchell (15 on the 4-2-3-1 visuals) - who Sunderland had on trial in 2020 - played on the right-wing. This leads me to believe that Mitchell may start, and Blackpool may switch back to 4-2-3-1 due to the loss of Embleton.


Blackpool has all the signs of a confident team. They are having 12.3 shots per game and from the visual, you can see they like to shoot from anywhere.

This is always a problem when you play a team on a good run of form. Accrington managed to stop them from scoring on Tuesday, and Sunderland I hope have looked into that further, as we need to keep a clean sheet tomorrow.

Jerry Yates

After signing from Swindon last summer, Jerry Yates has slipped under the radar when it comes to League One forwards. Yates does appear to have a preference in shooting from the left-hand side compared to the right. His stats show he is a very clinical forward and is the joint 3rd in the scoring tables with 18 goals - Yates also has a low SpG (shots per game).

  • Jonson Clarke-Harris – 2.9 SpG (27 goals)
  • Charlie Wyke – 2.3 SpG (23 goals)
  • Jerry Yates – 1.9 SpG (18 goals)

Yates can take his chances when presented with them, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Championship clubs don’t seriously consider signing him for a 24-year-old having a career-best scoring season.


I expect that Blackpool will line up 4-2-3-1 based on not having Embleton available, and they haven’t won the previous two games using 4-4-2.

Regardless of formation, their full-backs get extremely high up the pitch and can cause problems going forward, but can also leave plenty of space. Sunderland should be exposing this weakness.

What is important for Sunderland is we suppress any threat, pick up three points tomorrow and break our three match winless run.


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