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Wenger happy to overcome Blackpool ´fight´

SoccerNews in English Premier League 10 Apr 2011

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted his side felt the pressure in the second-half of their 3-1 win at Blackpool on Sunday.

Arsenal kept their English Premier League title charge alive with the victory, cutting the gap on table-toppers Manchester United to seven points with a game in hand.

But the three points did not come without a scare.

Abou Diaby and Emmanuel Eboue both found the back of the net in a first half in which the visitors dominated and could have scored four or five, but Gary Taylor-Fletcher’s goal seven minutes into the second half changed the complexion of the match.

Blackpool – buoyed by a vocal home support at Bloomfield Road – had a penalty shout turned down when Laurent Koscielny challenged Taylor-Fletcher in the area, before Robin van Persie finally put the result beyond doubt with 14 minutes to play – much to Wenger’s relief.

“At 2-1 we had a difficult period but overall, in the first half we controlled the game well,” Wenger told Sky Sports.

“After 2-1 we had the period where we were a bit under pressure. After 3-1 you could see that it had a mental impact on Blackpool.”

“Nobody wins away easy (in the Premier League) and when you play against a team which fights not to go down they will fight until the last minute.”

Wenger had to shuffle his pack just prior to kick-off, with 41-year-old goalkeeper Jens Lehmann handed his first appearance since re-joining the club he played for between 2003 and 2008 after Manuel Almunia injured his knee in the warm-up.

“Jens worked very hard in the last three weeks and was getting stronger and stronger,” he said.

“What he has lost a little bit in his pace he has gained of course in commanding and organising so I wasn’t too much worried.”

Blackpool manager Ian Holloway was furious after the match, bemoaning referee Lee Mason’s decision not to award a penalty to Taylor-Fletcher with the match delicately poised at 2-1.

“I can’t describe how I feel,” Holloway said.

“I’ve seen it week in, week out. How that isn’t at least one penalty I don’t know. The Taylor-Fletcher one was a blatant penalty – that would have changed the whole momentum of the game and our season.”

“I’ve been to see him (Mason). I was very calm – I can’t afford not to – and it was very amicable. We had a nice chat. He’s a nice man and a good ref. But the things I’ve seen over this season have been difficult to take. Normally you get them when you’re playing at home.”

“It’s so easy to get that totally and utterly right in five seconds with a replay. Then we would get every one right.”

Blackpool’s loss leaves them sitting perilously in 17th position on the Premier League table, just one point above the bottom three.

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