London: Arsenal overcame a brief Blackpool fight-back to win 3-1 at Bloomfield Road and close the gap on Manchester United to seven points at the top of the Premier League.
Arsenal, who fielded 41-year-old Jens Lehmann in goal for the first time in three years as an emergency stand-in for Manuel Almunia, were 2-0 up after 21 minutes thanks to goals from Abou Diaby and Emmanuel Eboue.
Blackpool replied after 52 minutes when Gary Taylor-Fletcher scored after the referee waved play on despite Lehmann bringing down DJ Campbell in the penalty area. Although they had other chances, the seaside strugglers failed to find the equaliser.
Instead, Arsenal wrapped up the victory with a superb goal on the counter-attack after 76 minutes when Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott combined on the break before Walcott crossed for Robin Van Persie to score in front of goal.
Lehmann, who left Arsenal three years ago and returned after coming out of retirement last month to help solve a goalkeeper crisis, was called into the game just before kickoff after Almunia was injured in the warm-up.
The result lifted Arsenal to 62 points -- seven behind leaders United with a game in hand. Blackpool remained a point and a place above the relegation zone.