Liverpool 0-0 Arsenal: Rearguard effort keeps Gunners in Carabao Cup tie despite Granit Xhaka red

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  • Arsenal
    Arsenal
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  • Granit Xhaka
    Granit Xhaka
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 (PA)
(PA)

Arsenal’s ten-men were rewarded for an impressive defensive effort as they held on for a 0-0 draw against Liverpool to keep themselves right in the Carabao Cup semi-final tie.

Granit Xhaka was sent off 24 minutes into the first-leg on his return from Covid, leaving Arsenal with a mountain to climb to avoid heading into the second-leg next week with a deficit to come.

But the Gunners were resolute and kept Liverpool at bay, even if Takumi Minamino should have won it late on, to ensure it is all to play for at the Emirates.

Arsenal have been blown away in the opening stages on more than one occasion at Anfield in recent seasons, and Liverpool were once again on the front-foot from the off.

The Gunners looked shaky playing out from the back, Gabriel passing it straight out of a corner and Aaron Ramsdale seeing his delayed clearance charged down. Ben White nearly turned an Andy Robertson cross into his own net, but was relieved to see the deflection drift wide.

Cedric Soares was forced off after ten minutes, unable to recover from an injury sustained in the opening seconds, but it was an exit of a different kind that left Arsenal ripping up their game-plan.

Robertson played a long ball over the top for Diogo Jota to run onto, and Granit Xhaka’s clumsy attempt to volley the ball away saw him bring down the Liverpool man right on the edge of the box.

Michael Oliver wasted no time in showing Xhaka the red card, and VAR did not come to his rescue as the midfielder suffered yet another painful episode in his Arsenal career.

Bukayo Saka had some bright moments on the counter straight after the break, but Arsenal’s primary focus was unsurprisingly on getting bodies behind the ball.

They largely limited Liverpool to possession on the halfway line, crowding out central areas to stop the Reds playing through them. Minamino had a rare chance for the hosts, but he fired wide from a tight angle.

Saka was denied by Alisson, after Tierney’s cross fell to him, as the Gunners maintained the occasional threat on the break.

Gabriel misjudged a cross from Curtis Jones and Jota had a free header behind him, but he was put off by the defender’s efforts and couldn’t direct it goalwards.

The biggest chance of the match fell to Minamino in the 90th minute. Aaron Ramsdale collided with a couple of defenders as he tried to claim a cross, and the rebound fell to the Liverpool forward but he somehow blasted over when faced with an open-goal from ten yards.

Neco Williams had an effort cleared off the line by Ben White in added time, as Arsenal held on for an incredibly impressive result.

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