Lehmann claims the ball on a successful return for Arsenal at Blackpool after three years away [EPA]

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

Lehmann, 41, who left Arsenal in 2008 and re-joined 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.

Results & fixtures

Saturday April 9

 Blackburn 1-1 Birmingham
 Bolton 3-0 West Ham
 Chelsea 1-0 Wigan
 Man Utd 2-0 Fulham
 Sunderland 2-3 West Brom
 Tottenham 3-2 Stoke
 Wolves 0-3 Everton

Sunday April 10

 Blackpool 1-3 Arsenal
 Aston Villa v Newcastle

Monday April 11


 
Liverpool v Man City

Referee Lee Mason 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."

Source: Reuters