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 Liverpool boss Klopp admitted his side were not good enough in the final third, but reckons his team still have a big chance of qualifying and facing Chelsea in the final.
“I thought we really started well, I liked it, it was how I wanted to start,” Klopp told Sky Sports.
“We would’ve preferred to have scored the goal instead of them getting a red card. From that moment it looks like we are under pressure [to score] and we had to change the line-up for obvious reasons [before the game].
“In the second half we made a few changes, I thought it looked better and we had clear situations but it was not good enough.
“But it’s a two-legged game and it’s half time. I can’t remember when it was 0-0 at half time, wherever I’ve been, and I thought ‘we have no chance’. We will give it a proper go.”
The two sides will play out the second leg at the Emirates next Thursday.
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