Ten-men Arsenal earn Anfield draw in Carabao Cup semi-final first leg
Gunners grind out goalless draw against Liverpool despite Granit Xhaka seeing red after just 24 minutes
Thursday, 13th January — By Steve Barnett
Carabao Cup Semi-Final First Leg
ARSENAL 0 (Xhaka sent off 24)
ARSENAL escaped Anfield with a goalless draw tonight (Thursday) despite playing over an hour of the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final against Liverpool with 10-men.
Granit Xhaka lasted just 24 minutes before being sent off for a reckless last-man challenge on Diogo Jota. The Swiss midfielder caught Jota with a high boot on the edge of his own penalty area as he attempted to cut out Andrew Robertson’s pass.
Liverpool failed to take advantage, however, and, inspired by Ben White, the Gunners produced a resolute defensive display to set-up a captivating second leg at the Emirates Stadium in seven days.
After being voted man-of-the-match, White said: “It was not an ideal start but there is so much fight in this team. It’s hard enough coming here with 11-men, it was absolutely superb from everyone.
“You have to concentrate the whole game and the result is well-deserved. It’s nice to defend like that as a defender. We were confident coming here and will give our all in the next game.”
Despite coming under intense pressure it was Arsenal who had the first shot on target. On 71 minutes Bukayo Saka found space in the box, but a poor first touch allowed Liverpool keeper Alisson to easily smother his close range shot.
In the final minutes of the match it looked like all of Arsenal’s hard work was going to be undone, but Takumi Minamino somehow managed to blaze over the crossbar with an open goal at his mercy.
Reflecting on what was an unlikely draw following Xhaka’s dismissal, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said: “The players showed great fight and determination. You saw the emotion, we never gave up. Credit to the boys.
“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.”
The second leg takes place at Emirates Stadium next Thursday, with the winners facing Chelsea in the final at Wembley at the end of February.
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold (Williams, 76), Matip (Gomez, 76), Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho (Oxlade-Chamberlain, 75), Henderson, Milner (Jones, 61), Jota, Minamino, Firmino
Substitutes not used: Kelleher, Konate, Tsimikas, Gordon, Morton
Arsenal: Ramsdale, Cedric (Chambers, 11), White, Gabriel, Tierney, Lokonga, Xhaka (sent off 24), Saka (Tavares, 81), Lacazette, Martinelli, Nketiah (Holding, 28)
Substitutes not used: Leno, Mari, Patino, Salah-Eddine, Hutchinson, Biereth