Arsenal Crosses Blackpool Hurdle by a Slim Win

Arsenal reached the Carabao Cup quarter-finals for a third successive season edging past Blackpool with a 2-1 victory at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday evening. They took the lead in the 33rd minute thanks to Stephan Lichtsteiner’s first goal for the club before Emile Smith Rowe doubled the advantage 5 minutes into the second half.

However, Matteo Guendouzi’s dismissal in the 56th minute for two bookable offences gave Blackpool a lifeline and they pulled a goal back through Paudie O’Connor.

It set up a tense finish but a straight red card shown to O’Connor for a late challenge on substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ended the League One side’s challenge, as Unai Emery’s side, who will face Tottenham in the last eight, extended their unbeaten run to 13 matches in all competitions.

Arsenal handed a debut to 21-year-old defender Julio Pleguezuelo, while Carl Jenkinson made his first appearance for the club in 701 days but neither were really tested in the opening stages as the hosts dominated possession.

However, chances were few and far between until Guendouzi’s inch-perfect pass released Lichtsteiner, who slid in to divert the ball past Mark Howard and into the bottom corner.

The Gunners doubled their advantage five minutes after the restart, with Smith Rowe turning the ball in from close range after Jenkinson’s cross had been palmed into his path by Howard.

Blackpool almost responded immediately when O’Connor rose highest at the far post to meet a corner, but with the returning Petr Cech poorly positioned the ball cannoned back off the crossbar.

The League One side’s confidence grew again in the 56th minute when Guendouzi, who picked up his first yellow card in the first half for a foul on Thompson, was shown a second yellow card for pulling back the same player.

The visitors then pulled themselves back into the game in the 66th minute when O’Connor rose again in the penalty area and this time his header picked out the bottom corner.

Cech’s blushes were then spared by the offside flag after he was caught in possession by Jay Spearing trying to play out from the back. Nathan Delfouneso turned the ball into an empty net only to see the goal correctly ruled by the offside flag.

Blackpool’s challenge eventually came to an end when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was scythed down by O’Connor, who was shown a straight red card with six minutes remaining.