Outnumbered after the expulsion of Granit Xhaka after a good twenty minutes, Arsenal perfectly withstood the onslaught of Liverpool. Everything remains open in this League Cup semi-final before the return leg, scheduled for next week in North London.
Liverpool 0-0 Arsenal
Expulsion: Jacket (24e) for the Gunners
Chelsea will have to wait a little longer to be fixed on their future opponent at the end of February at Wembley. Indeed, if Anfield thought of attending a semi-final return, it was ultimately only the first leg that was disputed. Reds and Gunners this Thursday. Blame it on that damn Covid. Everything will be played out in a week at the Emirates Stadium, after 90 minutes when an outnumbered Arsenal will have mainly sought to resist the opposing assaults, without managing to create a surprise on the few blows that have arisen. The essential is still assured for the men of Arteta, who keep the hope of winning a title, four days after their sad exit from the road in the FA Cup.
The Misadventures of Granit Xhaka
From the first minutes, the tone is set: intensity, big duels and Reds who stifle their opponent slowly. Gabriel sends an insane receding ball which ends in a corner (5e), before Henderson was too short to conclude after blocking Ramsdale’s clearance (12e). On a new hot situation, White also comes close to stopping his own (13e). But no one has fulfilled this role better in recent seasons than Granit Xhaka, who clears poor Jota’s chest in the position of last defender, earning the right to return prematurely to take a shower (24e). Paradoxically, Mikel Arteta’s tactical readjustment and the move to five behind allow the Londoners to better withstand the shock. A few years ago, Arsenal would probably have faltered under such circumstances, but this young guard of Gunners has found a soul (and a good dose of Ventolin) to stand up to a Liverpool lacking ideas in the last 30 meters.
We didn’t come here to suffer, okay?
Fifteen minutes to catch his breath and a message to pass on the side of Arsenal: the Londoners did not come to the banks of the Mersey as an expiatory victim. So the Gunners decide to suffer less from the events by leaving their box at the slightest opportunity thanks to pretty ball exits. Despite the mastery of leather, Fabinho and his friends remain under threat, while Saka makes sure that Alisson is not gone for a nap with a good free kick (58e), before seeing the Brazilian goalkeeper come out very far from his goal (61e). On the other side of the field, opportunities remain a rare commodity for Klopp’s men, who can do nothing in front of the too crossed strike from Minamino (68e). At a control near Saka in the box, Arsenal could even have afforded the big blow (71e), but must finally do the round back to the end in an end to the match again unbreathable. Without breaking, thanks in particular to a big failure of the same Minamino (90e). See you next Thursday on the lawn of the Emirates Stadium to decide.
Liverpool (4-3-3) : Alisson – Alexander-Arnold (Williams, 76e), Matip (Gómez, 76e), Van Dijk, Robertson – Henderson, Fabinho (Oxlade-Chamberlain, 76e), Milner (C. Jones, 61e) –Minamino, Firmino, Jota. Coach: Jürgen Klopp.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1) : Ramsdale – Soares (Chambers, 11e), White, Gabriel, Tierney – Xhaka, Lokonga – Saka (Tavares, 81e), Lacazette, Martinelli – Nketiah (Holding, 28e). Coach: Mikel Arteta.
By Tom Binet