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Liverpool 0-0 Arsenal: Ten-man Gunners battle for the first-leg draw in Carabao Cup semi-final after early Granit Xhaka red card

Report and free match highlights from the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield as the Gunners hold on for a goalless draw despite Granit Xhaka’s early red card.

Arsenal held Liverpool to a battling goalless draw despite Granit Xhaka’s early red card in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final.

With the tie finally getting underway seven days after its original date, following last week’s postponement, Xhaka managed to last just 24 minutes at Anfield before being sent off for a reckless last-man challenge on Diogo Jota.

But thanks to a brilliant defensive display, and a somewhat underwhelming Liverpool performance, Arsenal will have a real spring in their step ahead of the second leg at the Emirates Stadium in seven days.

Liverpool vs. Arsenal: Preview, Team News, and Ways to Watch - The Liverpool  Offside

One long pass from Andy Robertson found the run of Jota, and as he tried to race into the box he was caught by Xhaka with a high boot to his chest. It was reckless, and Oliver had no choice but to send him off.

“Xhaka did what Xhaka does. He makes an absolutely ridiculous challenge when Jota still has so much to do.

“The way he has taken him out and with the force he does it. There’s no doubt it’s a red card.”

Team news

  • Jurgen Klopp named as strong a side as he feasibly could, with Roberto Firmino and Takumi Minamino coming into attack for the absent pair of Mo Salah and Sadio Mane.
  • Mikel Arteta handed a further start to Eddie Nketiah up front, while Cedric Soares played at right-back. Martin Odegaard missed out after testing positive for Covid.

Most inside Anfield would have expected an onslaught from the moment of Xhaka’s dismissal. But without Mo Salah and Sadio Mane, there was a worrying lack of incision in Liverpool’s attacks. Opportunities created were few and far between, and Aaron Ramsdale was rarely tested in the Arsenal goal. Takumi Minamino and Roberto Firmino struggled to have much of an impact in their place.

One of the few clear chances after the red card probably fell to Arsenal on 72 minutes, as Alexandre Lacazette and Kieran Tierney combined before the latter found Bukayo Saka in the box, but he was denied by the quick thinking of Alisson – as he raced off his line to prevent him converting.

Arsenal player ratings vs Liverpool: White puts in best performance, Saka  mature, Chambers steps up | Evening Standard

There was time for Liverpool to snatch the win on 90 minutes, but Minamino somehow conspired to blaze over the bar and into the Kop with the goal at his mercy.

Klopp: We didn’t do enough

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: “For obvious reasons we had to change the line-up tonight. I really liked the way we started in the game. I saw absolutely everything I wanted to see in the beginning – we were front-footed in the right moments, and started the game like we wanted to start.

“Then after the red card we were playing against a low block, and against the most finely-tuned teams, it’s difficult. On top of that, we made a few wrong decisions and looked rushed. It’s a typical situation, you go to try and win something and in a second it can turn into a situation where you can lose.

“But we couldn’t create enough for the situation we were in against 10 men. That’s clear enough. But again this is a cup competition. It’s a two-leg semi-final, it’s half-time. At 0-0 Arsenal might be in a slightly better position, but we don’t think this tie is over for us.”

Arteta: We showed fight

Arsenal dig in to deny Liverpool in first leg despite Granit Xhaka red card  | Carabao Cup | The Guardian

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta: “We certainly rebelled against the situation, which I expect from the players. I think they showed great fight, determination, attitude, brotherhood. You could see the emotion they were playing with. They never gave up.

“It’s extremely difficult to do it in this ground against this opponent. Credit to the boys. It’s just the first leg but to do what we’ve done today, I think they deserve a lot of credit for that.

“I don’t know if [the sending off] inspired them but we certainly took the fight. I said to them before the game that you have to have a certain attitude to play on this ground. In difficult moments, you have to act, but you can’t be overreacting because then it becomes really complicated. I think the boys did that extremely well in certain moments. We played the game that we had to play, which is not our game, but we managed to do it.”

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