Arsenal cruised through to the FA Cup fourth round with teenager Joe Willock scoring twice at Blackpool. The 19-year-old striker headed in after Aaron Ramsey’s free-kick hit the post and tapped in another before half-time. League One Blackpool struggled to keep pace with the Gunners, whose arrival at Bloomfield Road was delayed when a protestor sat on top of their bus. But after Armand Gnanduillet went close, they improved after the break before Alex Iwobi’s late finish.
The hosts had run Arsenal close during their fourth round Carabao Cup tie earlier in the season, which ended 2-1 to the Gunners. But despite six changes to the Arsenal team, there was still a gulf in class from the start as Willock became the first Gunners teenager to score in the FA Cup since Ramsey – who ran the show here – in 2010. Another teenage forward, Eddie Nketiah, could have had a hat-trick before the interval. Any hope of creating a hostile atmosphere for the visitors was impossible amid ongoing protests about the way the owners run the club, which has seen fans stay away from games.
With 3,777 home fans present, added to Arsenal’s 5,218, Bloomfield Road was half-empty as Unai Emery’s side easily moved a step closer to adding to their record 13 FA Cup trophies. A warm-up injury to skipper Laurent Koscielny threatened to throw Arsenal off course. But Ramsey, who is set to leave the Gunners at the end of the season, played in a deeper role and offered guile and experience to keep the visitors on track. The 28-year-old was the subject of several chants from the visiting fans, including “we want you to stay”.