Arsenal overcame Granit Xhaka’s red card and dug deep to hold Liverpool to a goalless draw in the first half of their Carabao Cup semi-final, giving them hope of reaching the spectacle at Wembley.
Xhaka gave the home team the initiative when he fouled Diogo Jota, who loaded on goal before the Swiss put a boot in the chest.
However, the hosts looked sloppy and heavy in ball possession during the first half, which often allowed Arsenal to regain numbers in the defense as they struggled to break down their guests.
The Gunners were dangerous on the counter, with Bukayo Saka particularly lively, but they could not keep the ball possession long enough and were forced to deal with Liverpool’s pressure during most of the competition.
Despite their persistent knocks, Liverpool failed to record a shot on goal in the opening 80 minutes, with the absence of AFCON duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane particularly clear.
Jota has enjoyed being with that pair while Takumi Minamino has already scored four goals in the Carabao Cup this season, but neither of them nor Roberto Firmino looked to net a disappointing night for the Anfield team.
It was Minamino who had the chance to win the match after Aaron Ramsdale made a quick post, but he could only cut a half volley in row Z with the goal at his mercy.
A draw gives Arsenal – who had Martin Odegaard eliminated with Covid-19 before Cedric Soares was injured and replaced within 12 minutes – real hope of reaching the final, with Chelsea waiting for the winners of a draw.
The next round will be played next Thursday at the Emirates.
Matip brought the ball well forward / Michael Regan / GettyImages
Alisson (GK) – 7/10 – Debuted in the League Cup. Came out quickly to deny Saka in the second half.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (RB) – 6/10 – Could not muster much in the offensive sense, he looked a bit flat in his first match since he got Covid-19.
Joel Matip (CB) – 8/10 – Looked like Liverpool’s most creative player at times, charged from the back. He saved his defensive colleagues from trouble a few times.
Virgil van Dijk (CB) – 6/10 – Mistakes allowed Saka to snatch in behind but Matip covered for him. Dominant in the air.
Andy Robertson (LB) – 5/10 – Came behind on a few occasions and looked dangerous. Booked to withdraw Saka and fought with the Englishman.
Henderson competes with Martinelli / PAUL ELLIS / GettyImages
Jordan Henderson (CM) – 6/10 – Filled around with his usual force and tried to get on the ball and take it forward. Could have done with a more creative outlet next to him.
Fabinho (CM) – 5/10 – Rarely misplaced pass as the deepest of Liverpool’s midfielders. Was stolen from him on a couple of occasions.
James Milner (CM) – 5/10 – Diligent but a little more than that. Was set aside for Jones.
Minamino missed the best opportunity / PAUL ELLIS / GettyImages
Takumi Minamino (RW) – 5/10 – Almost netted with a cross that made Ramsdale worried. Missed the chance to win the match with a terrible effort.Roberto Firmino (ST) – 5/10 – Came almost at the end of a few crosses and had a couple of moments of interaction that just did not go away. Not very influential.Diogo Jota (LW) – 5/10 – Displaced a little too often during the first hour. Has done well with Mane and Salah but could not be the principal here.
Curtis Jones (CM) – 6/10 – Showed some lovely details moments after his introduction.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (CM) – 5/10
Joe Gomez (CB) – 5/10
Neco Williams (RB) – 5/10
Ramsdale had some interesting moments / Michael Regan / GettyImages
Aaron Ramsdale (GK) – 6/10 – Had some sketchy moments, slipped off his line once and then started an approval in Henderson – both mistakes came in the first 15 minutes. Went a bit AWOL towards the end of the match with his positioning, but was only forced to a late save.
Cedric Soares (RB) – N / A – Got a bang and had to be replaced.
Ben White (CB) – 8/10 – Excellent. Marshalled Arsenal’s back line, stepped out to make tackles and interceptions and looked comfortable all the time.
Gabriel (CB) – 7/10 – Wobbly moment early when he anxiously drove the ball past Ramsdale for a cheap corner. Well resisted Liverpool’s intense pressure, but received a warning for dragging Jota down.
Kieran Tierney (LB) – 7/10 – Not much of an attacking threat as Liverpool dominated, but the shots looked solid on the left back.
Xhaka betrayed Arsenal once again / Chloe Knott – Danehouse / GettyImages
Albert Sambi Lokonga (CM) – 6/10 – Got a tough task in central midfield when Xhaka was sent off. Had a lot of work to get through and did it without hassle.
Granit Xhaka (CM) – 0/10 – Booted Jota in the stomach as the last man and got his marching orders 24 minutes into the first half. Going to Anfield is tough enough with 11 players, and another moment of madness from the Swiss national team player made it even harder. Terrible judgment.
Alexandre Lacazette (AM) – 7/10 – Tried a bold effort out of reach with Alisson off his line. Went properly when his side reaches down to ten men. Did well for fussing and nodding the ball from Liverpool sometimes.
Saka was in the middle of the action / Michael Regan / GettyImages
Bukayo Saka (RW) – 7/10 – Came in behind Liverpool’s defense from Van Dijk’s mistake but saw his shot blocked. Gave Robertson many problems on a broad front. Had a good opportunity blocked by Alisson.
Eddie Nketiah (ST) – 5/10 – Had only five ball hits and was taken for Holding after Xhaka’s red card. Given the speculation about his future and his lack of playing time, one must feel for the youngster.
Gabriel Martinelli (LW) – 6/10 – Has been one of the form players in England lately but really struggled to see the ball. Became a more central figure when Arsenal tried to pack the midfield.
Calum Chambers (RB) – 7/10 – Come on for the affected Cedric. Be resolute and compact when Arsenal secured an important zero.
Rob Holding (CB) – 7/10 – Replaced Nketiah. Helped Arsenal stay in the game with a number of important clearances.
Nuno Tavares (RM) – 5/10
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