Belfast Telegraph

Gunners keep title hopes alive

Robin van Persie killed off a Blackpool fightback as Arsenal kept their slender Barclays Premier League title hopes alive with a 3-1 win at Blackpool.

Abou Diaby and Emmanuel Eboue put Arsenal into a commanding position at Bloomfield Road but Gary Taylor-Fletcher replied as relegation-threatened Blackpool played for their top-flight lives.

Taylor-Fletcher felt he was denied a penalty but Van Persie made victory safe for Arsenal after 76 minutes.

The afternoon started in dramatic fashion as Manuel Almunia injured his knee in the warm-up and manager Arsene Wenger was forced to turn to 41-year-old Jens Lehmann in the Arsenal goal.

Lehmann had little to do in the first half as Arsenal, with captain Cesc Fabregas also back in their starting line-up, overpowered the struggling Tangerines.

It quickly became one-way traffic and the Gunners carved open the Blackpool defence with ease to claim a 17th-minute lead when Van Persie crossed for Diaby to sidefoot home from close range.

They grabbed a second just three minutes later as Eboue played a neat one-two into the box with Jack Wilshere and then blasted past Richard Kingson.

The hosts, however, had realised they had little to lose by taking the game to Arsenal and did reply after 52 minutes.

Luke Varney was fouled but play proceeded and Jason Puncheon played in DJ Campbell. The striker appeared to be fouled by Lehmann as he closed in on goal but the ball ran on for Taylor-Fletcher to fire home.

Arsenal made the game safe 14 minutes from time as they quickly turned defence into attack as substitute Theo Walcott crossed low into the box and Van Persie made no mistake in front of goal.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph