Joe Willock’s brace inspired Arsenal to a comfortable 3-0 victory over Blackpool, as the Gunners safely booked their progression into the fourth round of the FA Cup.
In a dominant opening period from the Gunners, 19-year-old striker Eddie Nketiah was guilty of missing two clear-cut chances in the space of the first ten minutes. Unai Emery’s side’s superiority however, eventually told, when Aaron Ramsey’s deflected free-kick came off the post, and straight into the path of the predatory Willock to head home.
The Arsenal then added his second of the evening, when after some good build-up play from Alex Iwobi and Carl Jenkinson down the right hand side, was on hand to fire home from a cross at the back post.
Despite the League One side’s improved performance in the second half, the Gunners would add a late third, as Ramsey’s effort was only parried out into the path of the impressive Alex Iwobi to tap home.
Check out our breakdown of the game below.
Key Talking Point
Coming into the game, Arsenal manager Unai Emery made it clear that he would ring the changes and he would give many of the club’s brightest prospects an opportunity to shine. On a poor surface, the likes of Willock, Nketiah and Ainsley Maitland-Niles all shone with both their technical ability and willingness to press from the front.
With an excellent track record in cup competitions in his career, Emery will feel satisfied that his Gunners side sailed through into the next round of the FA Cup. The Europa League and finishing in the top four of the Premier League remains the priority this season, but the FA Cup’s record holders will see this competition as very much winnable in Emery’s first season in charge.
Starting XI: Cech (6); Jenkinson (7), Lichtsteiner (5), Sokratis (7), Kolasinac (6); Elneny (6), Ramsey (7); Maitland-Niles (7), Willock (8*), Iwobi (8); Nketiah (7).
Substitutes: Lacazette (6), Medley (6), Saka (N/A)
STAR MAN – With the departure of Aaron Ramsey inching ever closer, Joe Willock produced a performance that laid a marker down to his manager about potentially filling the Welshman’s boots.
The 19-year-old has been an ever-present in Emery’s sides in the cup competitions and excelled again in a more advanced midfield position. With two poacher’s goals to his name, the England Under-20 international showed he has an eye for goal, and will be hoping to be given more opportunities to shine in the months and years to come.
WORST PLAYER – After being brought in on a free transfer from Serie A champions Juventus in the summer, Stephan Lichtsteiner was expected to add a bit more steel and resilience to the Arsenal back-line. Instead, the veteran defender looked all at sea in an unfamiliar centre-back role and looked constantly troubled by Blackpool’s towering forward Armand Gnanduillet.
Carl Jenkinson would be a better option than Lichtsteiner for the rest of the season, as would Carl Weathers, Carl Lewis and Carl from the Simpsons.
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) January 5, 2019
After safely booking their passage into the fourth round of the FA Cup, the Gunners will turn their attentions back to the Premier League when they face two successive London derbies against West Ham and Chelsea.