Result: Arsenal 2-1 Blackpool
Competition: Carabao Cup
Date: 31st October 2018
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Arsenal: Cech, Jenkinson, Mustafi, Pleguezuelo, Lichtsteiner, Guendouzi, Ramsey, Smith Rowe, Maitland-Niles, Mkhitaryan, Welbeck
Subs: Martinez, Holding, Torreira, Willock, Iwobi, Aubameyang, Nketiah
Arsenal made it through the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup as goals from Stephan Lichtsteiner and Emile Smith Rowe gave them a 2-1 win against Blackpool at the Emirates this evening as both teams finished the game with ten men.
With Liverpool in the Premier League on the horizon and something of a defensive injury crisis to contend with, Unai Emery picked a heavily rotated squad, handing a full debut to young Spanish centre-half Julio Pleguezuelo and a first start for Carl Jenkinson in two years.
The game began in relatively cautious fashion, with Arsenal enjoying the lion’s share of possession, and it was the 18th minute before the Gunners fashioned a half-chance but Mkhitaryan pulled a shot wide. Mustafi headed over the bar in the 28th minute, in truth it was dull fare with little to shout about, but out of nowhere in the 33rd minute we went ahead through Stephan Lichtsteiner.
Guendouzi picked up the ball outside the box, looked up, played what appeared to be a strange cross but there was the Swiss international to poke it home and make it 1-0.
The young Frenchman had a shot which deflected wide but the referee gave a goal kick, and Ramsey got on the end of a Maitland-Niles cross but could find the accuracy at the back post to trouble the keeper, meaning Emery’s side took the one goal lead into the break.
There were no changes from either manager at half-time, and just five minutes in Arsenal scored again. Welbeck burst down the left, he fed Jenkinson whose cross was slapped into the path of Smith Rowe and his shot into the ground bounced up and into the roof of the net to double the lead. 2-0.
The visitors almost got one back straight way when Paudie O’Connor’s header from a corner rattled the corner of post and bar with Cech nowhere, while at the other end Mustafi almost made it three from an Arsenal corner but his powerful header fizzed wide of Howard’s post.
There was more drama in the 56th minute when Guendouzi, who had picked up a yellow card in the first half, was shown a second by the referee for a foul on some Blackpool bloke. It was certainly a foul, whether it was worthy of a second yellow card is another question, but either way the young Frenchman went off for an early bath.
Emery made a change, bringing on Lucas Torreira for Maitland-Niles on 60′, but Blackpool got one back through an O’Connor header from a corner. We had been warned, and this time the young Irishman hit the target to make it 2-1.
Arsenal looked a little shaky, summed up in the 69th minute when Cech turned inside a man in his own box as he was looking for a pass, lost the ball and it came to a Blackpool player but he was clearly offside and we got away with it.
That prompted another change with Alex Iwobi replacing goalscorer Smith Rowe, and shortly afterwards Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang came on for Welbeck. The Gabon striker was hacked down in the 84th minute by O’Connor who was immediately shown a red card by the referee, making it 10 against 10 for the final few minutes.
The referee decided there ought to be 6 minutes of added time at the end of the game, during which Arsenal played a lot of keep-ball to run down the clock and come away with the win.