Liverpool and Arsenal played out a 0-0 draw in their Carabao Cup semi-final first leg clash at Anfield tonight.
Mikel Arteta’s Gunners started nervously and with Liverpool being roared on by a raucous Anfield crowd, it seemed as if it would only be a matter of time before the home side went into the lead.
Then on 24 minutes an already difficult task for Arsenal became a mountain to climb when Granit Xhaka was shown the fifth red card of his Gunners career, the Switzerland international recklessly kicking Diogo Jota in the chest when the Portuguese attacker had latched onto a long ball over the top.
Despite Liverpool’s domination of possession and territory the Reds were badly missing Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane – both away on AFCON duty – with Jurgen Klopp’s side struggling to create any clear cut chances and the teams would go in at the break all square.
To be fair to Arsenal they certainly did wilt when down to 10 men and not long after the break the lively Bukayo Saka found himself through on goal, but the young England international would see his opportunity snuffed out by Joel Matip.
As the game passed the hour mark it suddenly livened up with Takumi Minamino firing just wide for Liverpool before Saka once again found himself through on goal only to be closed down expertly by Alisson.
Arsenal continued to defend valiantly, but in the 89th minute the best chance of the game would fall to Liverpool. However, Minamino would fluff his lines, the Japan international blasting over from six yards out with the goal at his mercy.
Speaking afterwards Gunners boss Arteta was delighted with the attitude his side showed.
“We rebel against the situation. The players showed great fight, determination, brotherhood. You saw the emotion, we never gave up. Credit to the boys,” Arteta told Sky Sports.
“I don’t know if the red card inspired them but it took the fight. You need a certain attitude to play in these games and the boys did that. We played the game we had to play, which is not our game. I have not seen it back, they checked it so probably a red card.”
While Arteta admitted he would be missing players for Sunday’s North London Derby the Spanish side insisted his side will be up for the fight.
“To plan with the numbers we have, we don’t have any midfielders, becomes really complicated, because whatever we do is not natural.
“The extra motivation to play a derby [at Tottenham on Sunday] brings the energy when you don’t have it. No excuses, we have to play it.”
Arsenal and Liverpool will play out the second leg at the Emirates next Thursday.
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