Arsenal and Wenger live in hope
Comedian Frank Carson kept Arsenal's supporters amused outside Bloomfield Road with a few one-liners even older than Jens Lehmann. Time will tell if they have the last laugh this season.
Arsenal's win at Blackpool puts them seven points behind Manchester United at the top of the Premier League with a game in hand and a meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson's side at the Emirates on May Day.
Surely a cause for optimism and excitement as the season approaches it climax - and yet Arsenal's current circumstances have been shrouded in pessimism as well as the sight and sound of manager Arsene Wenger passionately defending his recent record on Friday.
So why do so many dismiss Arsenal's title credentials despite the possibility, admittedly an outside one, that they could yet chase down Manchester United and deprive them of a record 19th championship?
This win was built on the sort of imperious attacking quality that has become their trademark under Wenger, and yet for 15 minutes at the start of the second half they produced all the ammunition required to prove they are not made of title-winning stuff.
Arsenal had recovered from the disruption of losing goalkeeper Manuel Almunia to a knee injury in the warm-up and being forced to draft in 41-year-old Lehmann, at the club on a short-term contract, for his first start for the Gunners in three years.
Lehmann's first-half troubles amounted to his bootlace coming undone as he took a goalkick and a desperate goalmouth scored in stoppage time. Two goals in three minutes from Abou Diaby and Emmanuel Eboue - as well as plenty of missed opportunities - made life even more relaxed for the German veteran as he basked in the seaside sunshine.
Robin van Persie (right) celebrates scoring Arsenal's third goal with Samir Nasri. Photo: Getty
Blackpool then landed a few choice blows on Arsenal's glass jaw and for a short period they wobbled all over the place and were forced to lean heavily on a poor decision from referee Lee Mason to keep them upright.
Gary Taylor-Fletcher pulled one goal back for Blackpool in a madcap moment that saw Mason distinguish himself by twice playing the advantage in the build-up, crucially when Lehmann hauled down DJ Campbell in the area. Had he awarded a penalty life would have been very interesting, raising the possibility of a red card for Lehmann and no replacment with Almunia off the scene.
Mason then undid his fine work by failing to spot, or at least failing to penalise, Laurent Koscielny hauling down Taylor-Fletcher in the area, reviving bad Blackpool memories of when they were also denied a penalty when leading 2-0 against Manchester United earlier this season, a game they went on to lose.
And even after this lucky escape, Keith Southern failed to apply a nod of the head to a simple chance. Blackpool's best hope had been lost on a poor refereeing decision and failure in front of goal.
It continued Blackpool's decline since the turn of the year but they showed what they were all about as they put Arsenal under sustained pressure, albeit too briefly, and their survival now surely hinges on forthcoming home games against Wigan Athletic, Newcastle United and Stoke City.
Arsenal's quality was vastly in excess of Blackpool's and Robin van Persie finally scored from one of several chances to wrap up the win and keep them in pursuit of United - but that 10 minutes of fallability could not be disguised or dismissed.
Former Liverpool and Denmark midfield man Jan Molby was a BBC Radio 5 Live summariser at Bloomfield Road and he saw enough to effectively dismiss Arsenal's chances of coming from behind to overhaul United.
He told me: "Arsenal were all over the place for 15 or 20 minutes. There was always that feeling that if Blackpool got one goal they could really trouble Arsenal and that is exactly what happened for a while.
"Arsenal got really lucky because Blackpool should have had a stonewall penalty and there was again a lack of leadership in that spell. You need someone to say 'right lads let's regroup' but they don't have someone who even attempts to do this. They needed to get the full-backs around the centre halves, get some protection and just clear their heads.
"You couldn't put it down to great play by Blackpool, they showed a bit more energy and directness and Arsenal were hanging on for their lives. When I see things like that, and it has happened before, then I don't see anybody other than Manchester United as champions.
"I think there has been overreaction to a lot of things with Arsenal but I think the situation has reached a level where Wenger has to do something about the centre-half situation in particular.
"If you had a pair of tough centre-backs in there like Brede Hangeland and Gary Cahill, then what we saw against Blackpool is just not happening.
"I don't see Arsenal winning the league, even though they won here. They have got too many tough games coming up, Liverpool, Spurs and Manchester United to name but three, and I don't think they've finished shooting themselves in the foot yet either.
"And when you see games like the Carling Cup Final against Birmingham, I'm still not sure they fully understand what they have to do to win, how deep you have to dig when things get tough. I think they lack real leadership.
"If they could get some like Bastian Schweinsteiger, and I mean someone like him, someone who can do a bit of both things in playing a leading as I know it would be impossible to get him out of Bayern Munich, then that would make a huge difference to Arsenal."
Molby's verdict was more light than shade on the sheer quality of players in Arsenal's squad, saying: "They got through and won at Blackpool and they did that because they do have great players like Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie who produce things that win games.
"They create opportunities, make the right decisions in attacking situations - but my feeling is there are things that go on elsewhere that let them down and means I cannot see them winning the Premier League."
Wenger insists they will continue to hunt United down - and dismissing them completely is a dangerous occupation given their current position and this season's capacity to surprise.
It was only on Friday that Wenger insisted finishing second was not a disaster. Can Arsenal - with Stan Kroenke ready to launch a takeover - now produce the definitive answer to their critics and finish even higher?