Arsenal 2 Blackpool 1
Lichsteiner 33, Smith-Rowe 50, O’Connor 66

Arsenal came through a bit of a Halloween fright night at the Emirates stadium on Wednesday night but ultimately progressed to the Carabao Cup quarter-finals where they were later drawn to host arch rival Tottenham Hotspur. Having taken the lead through Stephan Lichsteiner’s first goal for the club, the Gunners looked on coarse for safe passage to the next round. That much was given further credence when Emile Smith-Rowe scored after the break.

However, the night was almost turned on it’s head when Matteo Guendouzi received his second yellow card after 56 minutes and ten minutes later Paudie O’Connor halved the deficit with a powerful header from a corner for Blackpool. The visitor’s goalscorer was then sent off himself following a horrible scissors tackle on substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as he set himself to counter at pace on the break.

Unai Emery gave starts to Carl Jenkinson and fellow defender Julio Pleguezuelo who both acquitted themselves well, the latter more so alongside Shkodran Mustafi in central defence.

When Guendouzi spotted the run of Lichsteiner, his cross took out the Blackpool defence and remaining onside was the Swiss defender to guide the ball past Mark Howard for the lead. Arsenal doubled their advantage with a fast move down the left side initiated by Danny Welbeck and Jenkinson. The latter’s cross saw Howard in a panic with a push at the ball, but there was Smith-Rowe to finish into the roof of the net. A few scary moments after O’Connor’s header, but Arsenal were safely through to the quarter-finals.

Emery praised his team and the efforts of Blackpool, while acknowledging Guendouzi’a missing the Premier League fixture against Liverpool.

“First, congratulations to them because they are a very organised team and I think today they competed very well against us. In the 90 minutes, a lot of things happened in the game in the 90 minutes but I think we controlled a lot of moments in the match and we were 2-0 up and the match is, for us, in a good moment.

“This red card to Matteo affected the balance more for them and their goal also, we can and we need to continue our work to the last minute with our performance and our players to win today. But I think that doing our work, we deserved this victory also.”

Was Guendouzi naive for picking up two unnecessary yellow cards ?

“He is playing well and he is playing with one very important thing: good spirit. He is competitive. The action is one action. He plays this action, normally, he is pushing behind the player and the second yellow card… I don’t know if it is experience, but he is playing with the spirit like I want today and in every match.

“We spoke in the dressing room at half-time. I said it is very important to keep control, but I don’t think that he really lost control in this action. He played how the action demanded and the red card is one circumstance in the game.”

Emery is now  relishing the Gunners hosting Spurs in the quarter-finals.

“We are here to do one thing in this title and we are going to play against the big teams. I think this is the moment also to play the first derby against Tottenham. For us, it’s different if we play away or if we play here at home. I think it’s important for us to play here with our supporters at Emirates. I think this is the moment for both clubs, a great moment, but only one can win.”