Arsenal hold out despite the odds

Murkiness was hanging over from the cancelled game last week, as Liverpool fielded a near full strength team, minus Salah, and Mane.

The fact Arsenal held out for over 70 minutes with ten men shows how much they have improved in defensive organisation under Arteta.

Ben White – key to Arsenal’s defensive organisation

Given it looked like a training game of attack v defence it was remarkable that at the end, both teams had equal shots on target – one apiece.

Arsenal defended well, but Liverpool’s muted attack showed how much they rely on the trickery and off the ball running of Salah and Mane. And a key source of creativity – the full backs, had poor games.

Arsenal had the Afcon quartet missing along with Odegaard (Covid), Smith Rowe and Tomiyasu out injured.

Ramsdale was back along with Tierney.

Liverpool have scored the most goals against Arsenal under Klopp than any other side.

Cedric injured his hip with a clash with Jota in the first minute – and went off ten minutes later.

Saka had a chance but over-hit it. Lokonga looked nervous in the vociferous atmosphere and gave the ball away several times. Ramsdale kicked straight at Henderson, and it was scrambled for a corner.

Lacazette had the first shot on goal from mis-control by Henderson.

From a Liverpool counter, Gabriel missed a press and Robertson the Scot sent a high diagonal ball for Jota in a race with Xhaka. Ramsdale started to come out and then withdrew back. The Swiss tried to clear but kicked the Portuguese in the chest and was given straight red for denying a goal-scoring opportunity. Was it his fifth or sixth red card for Arsenal? Holding came on for Nketiah. Arsenal went into a 5-3-1 with a low block condensing the play into a small area.

Saka fought hard and won some duels.

Minamino had the beating of Chambers and his cross-shot had Ramsdale scambling.

Lacazette set Saka away, but his shot was blocked. And then took on the whole Liverpool defence in a hold-up move.

Robertson set up Minamino in the left-hand channel, but he hit it wide.

Tierney sent a cross in, and Saka popped up touched it on, but Allison saved with an outstretched hand.

Gabriel missed a header in the area which surprised Jota who didn’t take advantage.

Williams caused dangerous situations from the right the most when Ramsdale ran out rashly and with the ball bouncing in the area and Minamino hit it over the bar with the goal gaping.

If left one more scare to navigate as Ramsdale punched it out straight to Alexander Arnold and White cleared near the goal-line.

Ben White said of the sending off: “It is not ideal. So much fight in this team showed today. He was looking at the ball and doesn’t know where the man is. We tried not to concede.

“Playing in a back three is not easy. You have to concentrate the whole game. We had a bit of luck. But it was exhausting.

“Some days it’s your day others it isn’t.”

Mike Arteta said: “We Showed great fight, determination, attitude, and brotherhood against a very difficult opponent. This is just the yet first leg. They deserve a lot of credit. You have to have certain attitude to play here. In difficult moments you have to act. We played the game we have to play.

“There were not enough players to do what we wanted. We had Martinelli, Lokonga and Saka in midfield and three centre halves. We stopped Liverpool down the centre.

“It is about quality and decision making. Today we got the level back. Young team expect inconsistency.

On Sunday’s game, Arteta said derbies create energy but said that Soares and Chambers were struggling at the end.

Jurgen Klopp said: “We started well and direct and how we wanted to start. I prefer to score rather than the red card. It was already difficult. We struggled with the low block. The second half was better with clearer situations. We had proper wingers high up.

On the return game, Klopp said: “We will give it a proper try.”

On Covid, he said: The boys came back not exactly the same.

On tactics: “We wanted to change the system a little bit. To face a low block, you have to be well tuned. We are used to some movements. We will solve it.”

Carabao Cup semi-final first leg: Liverpool 0 Arsenal 0

Liverpool: 1Alisson,66Alexander-Arnold (Substituted for N Williams at 76’minutes), 32Matip (Substituted for Gomez at 76’minutes), 4van Dijk, 26Robertson (Booked at 57mins), 14Henderson, 3FabinhoSubstituted for Oxlade-Chamberlain at 75’minutes, 7Milner (Substituted for Jones at 61’minutes), 20Jota, 9Firmino

Arsenal: 32Ramsdale, 17Cédric Soares (Substituted for Chambers at 11’minutes), 4White, 6Gabriel (Booked at 72mins), 3Tierney, 23Sambi Lokonga, 34Xhaka (Booked at 24mins), 7Saka (Substituted for Tavares at 81’minutes),9Lacazette, 35Martinelli, 30Nketiah (Substitued for Holding at 28’minutes)