Neither Granit Xhaka, with a clumsy expulsion, could dynamite an Arsenal who endured 70 minutes with one less at Anfield and contained a Liverpool without ideas and who did not shoot once on goal to stay alive in the semi-finals of the League Cup (0-0).
The Swiss threatened to destroy Arsenal’s only title option this season, with a child kick and as the last man at 24 minutes, they sent him to the dugout and forced Arsenal to defend themselves and little else to reach the Emirates Stadium alive.
This Mikel Arteta Arsenal has a problem with red cards and this Thursday is the thirteenth since he took office, five more than Southampton, second in this particular classification. On a long ball from Robertson, when just 20 minutes into the game were over, Jota controlled with his chest as Xhaka, outmatched, lunged and kicked him. The Swiss was the last man and he went to the street with a direct red. The fifth since arriving at Arsenal on 16/17. Another time he left his team lying down due to an awkwardness.
For Arteta it meant getting rid of Nketiah and having to put Holding in, although the script changed little, because Liverpool continued to dominate before the goal, but without disturbing Ramsdale, who was grateful that Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah are in the Africa Cup.
Because Liverpool lacked creativity and punch. Without Thiago, with a purely defensive midfield, and without his pair up, the team was left at the expense of some genius from Jota, the lack of a goal from Firmino or a Minamino who has scored two goals at Anfield since signing for the ‘Reds’. It was not surprising that the most dangerous for Ramsdale in the first 60 minutes was a cross from the Japanese who was poisoned and almost sneaked into his goal.
Curtis Jones came in, to give some more rhythm, but the game was stagnant, condemned to 0-0. Arsenal even had it, in an offensive transition with a Tierney center that Saka caught between Van Dijk and Matip. The control was not good, but the English managed to find a shot against Alison that the Brazilian covered.
Jürgen Klopp’s offensive production was a drama and they did not shoot once on goal throughout the game. Not playing against ten. They accelerated in the final minutes, when Minamimo, without a goalkeeper, sent the last one to the stands, but not even with those. Eight months later, Liverpool were left unmarked at Anfield. The last time was in the quarter-final second leg against Real Madrid in the Champions League.
The only positive news for the return on January 20 is that this meeting will hardly be worse than what was seen this Thursday at Anfield.