Arsenal 2-1 Blackpool: Paudie O'Connor goal proves in vain as battling Seasiders exit Carabao Cup with narrow defeat

Brave Blackpool avoided a Halloween horror as they exited the Carabao Cup with a agonisingly narrow defeat against Premier League Arsenal.

READ MORE: Arsenal 2 Blackpool 1: Blackpool boss Terry McPhillips reacts to the Seasiders' Carabao Cup exit

Blackpool's goal came from the head of Paudie O'Connor

Blackpool's goal came from the head of Paudie O'Connor

Brave Blackpool avoided a Halloween horror as they exited the Carabao Cup with a agonisingly narrow defeat against Premier League Arsenal.

The Gunners looked to be cruising into the quarter finals of the competition when they went two-ahead thanks to goals from Stephan Lichsteiner and Emile Smith Rowe.

But the game changed when Arsenal were reduced to 10 men, Matteo Guendouzi seeing his marching orders with two yellows, before Paudie O’Connor pulled one back soon after.

It ensured a tense finish as Terry McPhillips’ men came close to equalising on a number of occasions in the final stages, but 2-1 it remained with Blackpool also finishing the game with 10-men O’Connor receiving a straight red.

Blackpool were not overawed by the occasion at all and matched Arsenal for large periods of the game at the Emirates Stadium.

The Seasiders had the better chances early on but it was always going to be an uphill battle after going a goal behind, as they did 10 minutes before the interval.

The men in tangerine produced a stirring battling display in the second period but it wasn’t to be, as they exited the competition at the last-16 stage.

Mark Cullen was surprisingly left out of Blackpool’s starting line-up as Terry McPhillips opted to make two changes from Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to Fleetwood Town.

Out went both Curtis Tilt and Armand Gnanduillet, who missed out through suspension, while Michael Nottingham and Paudie O’Connor came into the side.

Cullen would have been expecting to start due to the absence of Gnanduillet, who received a straight red card during the weekend’s derby day defeat.

The striker’s omission saw Nathan Delfouneso move from the wing up to lone role in attack.

Arsenal, meanwhile, named a strong side full of internationals, including the likes of Petr Cech, Aaron Ramsey, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Danny Welbeck.

Unai Emery’s side came into the game having lost their 10-game winning run with a 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace at the weekend, but nevertheless that result extended their impressive unbeaten run in all competitions to 12 games.

The game, which was preceded by a poignant minute’s silence to pay tribute to the victims of Saturday’s tragic helicopter crash at Leicester City’s King Power stadium, started exactly as expected.

The Gunners kept hold of possession in their typically intricate fashion and it took the Seasiders two minutes to even touch the ball.

But Blackpool responded well, creating the first opportunity of the game just four minutes in.

It came via Liam Feeney’s superb cross, which just evaded the unmarked Delfouneso at the near post, Arsenal defender Carl Jenkinson then nervously lashing a clearance out for the corner, almost picking out the top corner of his own goal in the process.

Delfouneso was again involved as he burst into the Arsenal box only to be bustled off the ball, the referee waving away the half-hearted appeals for a penalty.

The Seasiders were looking the more threatening side in the early stages, posing plenty of problems on the break through Delfouneso especially, who again got in behind only to be crowded out by Lichtsteiner.

We had to wait 20 minutes for Arsenal’s first chance of the game, which came from Mkhitaryan who dragged his shot wide of Mark Howard’s near post.

The hosts continued to prod and poke at Blackpool’s watertight defensive unit, but they were frustrated in their attempts to create any clear-cut opportunities of note.

That was until the 34th minute, when the Gunners finally broke Blackpool’s resistance. It was a cleverly carved goal too, as right back Lichtsteiner did well to divert Guendouzi’s cross beyond Howard and into the bottom corner.

The Seasiders struggled to keep Arsenal at bay before the interval as the home side pushed for a quick second, Guendouzi seeing a low drive deflected just wide.

Blackpool, pushing for a leveller at the start of the second half, had half-hearted penalty appeals waved away again as Jordan Thompson struck the ball against what he thought was the arm of Carl Jenkinson.

But just a few minutes later, Blackpool fell two behind. It came via Emile Smith Rowe, who bundled home from close range after Howard had palmed away Jenkinson’s left-wing cross.

The goal sparked a few moments of madness, with Blackpool almost immediately reducing the deficit back to just the one goal as O’Connor beat Cech to Jay Spearing’s corner only to head against the crossbar.

Arsenal then came close with a header of their own, as Mustafi glanced inches wide of the far corner.

Seconds later, the Gunners were then reduced to 10 men as Guendouzi received a second booking for a needless pull back on Thompson.

The sending off spelled a period of dominance from the Seasiders, who extraordinarily pulled a goal back on 66 minutes through O’Connor.

The centre back towered highest to head home Thompson’s pinpoint corner, giving Cech no chance in the Arsenal goal.

The home side were given a huge let off just minutes later when Cech was caught playing out from the back by Spearing, whose sliding tackle landed at the feet of Delfouneso who tapped into an empty net, only to see the linesman’s flag raised for offside.

A sign of Blackpool’s strength in the final stages came on 76 minutes when Emery brought on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in place of Welbeck to try and find that goal to kill off the game.

Any chance of Blackpool sealing a remarkable comeback was put to bed five minutes from time when they were also reduced to 10 men, with O’Connor seeing straight red for a cynical foul on Aubameyang.

TEAMS

Arsenal: Cech, Jenkinson, Mustafi, Pleguezuelo, Lichtsteiner, Guendouzi, Ramsey, Smith Rowe (Iwobi), Maitland-Niles (Torreira), Mkhitaryan, Welbeck (Aubameyang

Subs not used: Martinez, Holding, Willock, Nketiah

Blackpool: Howard, Nottingham (Pritchard), Heneghan, O'Connor, Bola, Spearing, Turton, Guy (O'Sullivan), Thompson, Feeney (Cullen), Delfouneso

Subs not used: Mafoumbi, McLaughlin, Taylor, Dodoo

Referee: David Coote

Attendance: 48,168