x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Jens Lehmann happy after emergency start for Arsenal

The veteran German goalkeeper steps in at short notice as the Gunners beat Blackpool 3-1 at Bloomfield Road.

Jens Lehmann didn't have a quiet return in goal for Arsenal, but the Gunners win 3-1 at Blackpool.
Jens Lehmann didn't have a quiet return in goal for Arsenal, but the Gunners win 3-1 at Blackpool.

Blackpool 1 // Arsenal 3

LONDON // Arsenal's emergency goalkeeper Jens Lehmann avoided a red card and ended the match all smiles as the Gunners beat Blackpool 3-1 on Sunday to maintain their pursuit of Manchester United in the Premier League title race.

Lehmann, 41, who left Arsenal in 2008 and rejoined the club last month as emergency cover after retiring last season following a spell with Stuttgart, was called up to start the match after Manuel Almunia was injured in the warm-up.

He survived a possible sending-off after 52 minutes when he brought down Blackpool striker DJ Campbell in the penalty area.

Lee Mason, the referee, correctly played the advantage as the ball ran on to Gary Taylor-Fletcher who scored for the home side who then threatened an equaliser which never came.

Asked afterwards if he feared being dismissed, the German keeper told Sky Sports: "I don't know — the rules sometimes change and I don't know if he had to send me off after I touched him."

If he had been red carded, Arsenal would have had to play Dutch striker Robin van Persie in goal as Lehmann's stand-in as Almunia was not among the substitutes.

"He is a very good goalkeeper, but he doesn't take my glove size," Lehmann joked afterwards, while Van Persie, who wrapped up the win with Arsenal's third goal replied: "It's true."

Lehmann also said he had no idea if he would play again before his short stay at Arsenal finishes at the end of the season.

"Sometimes life is about surprises and that's happened to me and you never know what's happening in the coming weeks.

"But I don't care because if that was my final game ever I am pleased because we won, so let's wait and see what happens."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said: "Jens can be very proud. The way he practises every day is outstanding. He has helped the club win a big game and it will have an impact at the end of the season."