Matteo Guendouzi ’s red card may have plunged Arsenal into a minor crisis in their EFL Cup win against Blackpool on Wednesday, but Unai Emery welcomed the “good spirit” his young midfielder has shown since joining this summer.
With over half an hour to go and Arsenal two goals to the good, Guendouzi was handed his second yellow for a needless shirt pull on Jordan Thompson.
From then on the hosts found themselves on the back foot against League One opposition, who halved the deficit through a Paudie O’Connor header and were pushing for an equaliser before the centre-back was sent off for a clumsy tackle on substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Guendouzi will now be unavailable for the visit of Liverpool to the Emirates on Saturday, a match he could well have started if Granit Xhaka is once more needed to fill in at left-back.
Emery offered a sympathetic assessment of Guendouzi’s decision, insisting the foul was the right decision as the 19-year-old tried to halt a Blackpool attack.
“He is playing well and he is playing with one very important thing: good spirit,” Emery said. “He is competitive.
“The action is one action. He plays this action, normally, he is pushing behind the player and the second yellow card… I don’t know if it is experience, but he is playing with the spirit like I want today and in every match.
“We spoke in the dressing room at half-time. I said it is very important to keep control, but I don’t think that he really lost control in this action.