The first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final saw 10-man Arsenal frustrate Liverpool at Anfield. Granit Xhaka’s early red card forced The Gunners to defend for much of the match but some good defending meant they limited Liverpool to just one shot on target. Arsenal is now the favourites for the second leg with Liverpool still expected to be without Sadio Mane and Mo Salah at The Emirates.
10-Man Arsenal Frustrate Liverpool
Key Men Missing For Both Sides
With key men missing for both sides, the match was determined by who wasn’t playing instead of who was. Emile Smith Rowe’s and Martin Odegaard’s absences meant Arsenal were set up to hit Liverpool on the counter even before Xhaka’s red card. Liverpool struggled to create anything other than long shots with their attacking opinions depleted and Thiago Alcantara’s and Naby Keita’s absences saw a real lack of creativity in midfield for The Reds.
The players on the pitch were also not in the best condition to play a match of this caliber. After battling Coronavirus, Trent Alexander-Arnold struggled to hit his best form and injuries took their toll on Arsenal with both Cedric Soares and Bukayo Saka limping off. Hopefully, both clubs will avoid Covid outbreaks before the second leg and it’s a much more exciting, high-tempo game.
Eager Substitutes Almost Found Liverpool A Winner
Everything good Liverpool did in the second half came through their two substitutes and academy graduates. Neco Williams was energetic down the right and Curtis Jones looked equally as threatening down the left. A cross from Williams gave Takumi Minamino a glorious chance to score the winner but he fired over from six yards. A good run from Jones gave Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a chance from distance but once again his shot sailed over the crossbar.
The Academy pairing hasn’t played often this season but has looked promising when they have. Williams has just one league appearance to his name and is looking for regular playing time before he assesses his Liverpool future. After a difficult 2020/21 season, Williams looks to have matured as a player this season and got back on track. It’s now time for him to break through as a regular somewhere and with Alexander-Arnold not leaving Anfield anytime soon, Williams needs a move away.
Arsenal Gain Advantage Ahead Of Second Leg
With Arsenal having lost 4-0 at Anfield in November, Mikel Arteta will be delighted with a draw here. The Gunners gave Manchester City some serious problems at the Emirates and will be confident they can do the same to a weakened Liverpool side. Liverpool will likely have the same squad available while Arsenal may be able to get Smith Rowe and Odegaard ready. The first leg saw Arsenal frustrate Liverpool but with better options and The Emirates crowd behind them The Gunners may attack Liverpool and it should lead to a much more exciting game.
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