Blackpool 0-3 Arsenal: Goals from Joe Willock and Alex Iwobi condemn Seasiders to FA Cup third round defeat

Armand Gnanduillet is denied by Arsenal keeper Petr Cech
Armand Gnanduillet is denied by Arsenal keeper Petr Cech
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Goals from Joe Willock and Alex Iwobi saw Arsenal ease into the fourth round of the FA with a 3-0 win against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road.

Goals from Joe Willock and Alex Iwobi saw Arsenal ease into the fourth round of the FA with a 3-0 win against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road.

Willock netted a brace for the Gunners in an action-packed first half, where the Seasiders also came close to netting on a couple of occasions.

Terry McPhillips’ men put on the pressure at the start of the second half as they looked to force a way back into the game, but their challenge was ended eight minutes from time when Iwobi tapped home from close range.

Ahead of the game, there were fears the game could have been delayed due to a protesting Blackpool fan stopping Arsenal’s team bus from leaving their hotel in Preston.

However Lancashire Police were called to the scene and a spare coach was found, although the Gunners did arrive at Bloomfield Road later than expected.

Blackpool fans were outnumbered by the away contingent for the second game running, the Not A Penny More movement holding firm with just 3,737 filling the home ends.

Unai Emery surprisingly opted to name quite a relatively weak side for the Gunners, making six changes to the team that beat Fulham 4-1 in their last league game.

Two 19-year-olds were named on the bench and a host of regular first-teamers didn’t even travel, including top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Blackpool made one change from their New Year’s Day defeat to Sunderland, Michael Nottingham coming in to replace the ill Ben Heneghan.

The game started at a frenetic pace, Arsenal going close after just three minutes when young Arsenal forward Eddie Nketiah failed to hit the target when left in space inside the Blackpool box.

Two minutes later, Blackpool came close themselves with a huge chance for Armand Gnanduillet, who forced his way past a couple of Arsenal defenders before looking to slip the ball under the onrushing Petr Cech, but the Gunners keeper made the block with his legs.

Nketiah was again guilty of failing to hit the target from close range, skewing wide of goal after being found unmarked at the back post.

But the Gunners took the lead after just 11 minutes through Joe Willock. It came after Aaron Ramsey’s deflected free kick had smashed onto the upright, but it rebounded straight to Willock who headed home into the empty net.

Chris Taylor looked to get Blackpool back on level terms with a low drive after swivelling and turning on the edge of the Arsenal box, but the midfielder’s effort was well claimed by Cech.

While the Gunners looked dangerous every time they ventured towards the Blackpool goal, they were certainly susceptible at the other end of the pitch.

Nathan Delfouneso caused some confusion in the Arsenal defence with a dangerous ball towards Taylor at the back post, but he couldn’t quite stretch far enough to make the required contact.

Liam Feeney was the next man to get a shot off at goal, failing to find the bottom corner with his curling effort that was straight at Cech.

The Seasiders fell two behind on 37 minutes thanks to Willock’s second of the game. It came after Blackpool had failed to deal with a ball across their six-yard box, allowing Willock the chance to steer home from close range at the back post, and the 19-year-old made no mistake.

Arsenal should have made it three on the stroke of half time, Nketiah again the man to be missing a clinical touch in front of goal as his effort was well saved by Howard after Paudie O’Connor had been caught out by a long ball.

The first opportunity of sorts in the second half fell to Blackpool's Michael Nottingham, whose low shot bobbled wide of Cech's upright.

Blackpool’s biggest chance of the game to date fell to Nottingham just before the hour mark but the full back couldn’t control his effort.

It came after fellow full back Marc Bola had drilled a low ball across the Arsenal box, falling kindly to Nottingham at the back post but the former Salford City man could only blaze over the bar.

Blackpool were the side on top for much of the second half and, despite being two goals ahead, Arsenal must have felt worried to the extent they brought Alexandre Lacazette off the bench to bolster their ranks.

The Seasiders, who are already without a number of key players, were dealt another blow when goalkeeper Howard was forced to hobble off with an injury, with the shot stopper being replaced by Christoffer Mafoumbi.

After an action-packed opening 45 minutes, the second period petered out a little bit with the Gunners prepared to sit on their lead and see out the rest of the game.

Blackpool harsly found themselves three goals down with eight minutes left on the clock, as Alex Iwobi got in the act with a simple finish.

It came after Aaron Ramsey’s effort was blocked, allowing Iwobi to tap home into an empty net although there was a strong suspicion of offside.

That proved to be the last meaningful action of the game with the Seasiders exiting the competition at the third round stage with their second defeat of the season to the Gunners.

TEAMS

Blackpool: Howard (Mafoumbi), Nottingham, Daniels, O'Connor, Bola, Spearing, Guy, Taylor (Pritchard), Feeney, Delfouneso, Gnanduillet (Davies)

Subs: Anderton, Bunney, McLaughlin, O'Sullivan

Arsenal: Cech, Lichsteiner, Jenkinson, Sokratis, Kolasinac (Medley), Elneny, Ramsey, Maitland-Niles, Willock, Iwobi (Saka), Nketiah (Lacazette)

Subs: Martinez, Torreira, Guendouzi, Smith Rowe

Referee: Mike Dean

Attendance: 8,955 (5,218 Arsenal)