Liverpool vs Arsenal
The 4th round of 2020/21 League Cup action drew to a close on Thursday evening.
The final tie of the round pitted Liverpool against fellow Premier League outfit, Arsenal.
The matchup represented the fourth occasion on which the sides have faced off in the space of a few months, with the Gunners having actually come out on top in two of the previous three meetings.
However, Jurgen Klopp’s outfit showed earlier this week that, when firing on all cylinders, they are almost impossible to stop.
Both sides made a number of changes from the clash at Anfield earlier this week:
Tonight’s team news…
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 1, 2020
The team news is in…
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) October 1, 2020
And, when all was said and done, Liverpool were unable to recreate the same magic they produced in downing Arsenal just 3 days ago.
Minamino misses a sitter
With a host of changes made by both sides, Thursday’s tie, unsurprisingly, took some time to settle.
It was the visitors who carved out the first chance of the evening, through Nicolas Pepe.
The Ivorian, operating from the left flank, cut inside and found Joe Willock, who moved the ball on to Eddie Nketiah. The young striker should have done a lot better with his ensuing effort, though, which was easily dealt with by Adrian.
Liverpool’s first half-chance of the evening then fell to Marko Grujic, following some lovely work from Diogo Jota and Curtis Jones. However, the midfielder directed his strike wide of Bernd Leno’s post just after the 10-minute mark.
The ball ended up in Adrian’s net a few minutes later, after a well-worked free-kick by Arsenal, but play was brought back for a foul in the build-up.
The game settled into something of a lull after that chance, though, with both sides looking fairly scrappy.
Dani Ceballos’ speculative shot from distance 41 minutes in was the only real point of note for Arsenal in the latter stages of the first-half.
The Spaniard then fouled Jota right on the edge of the visitors’ box minutes later, but the subsequent free-kick came to nothing.
Takumi Minamino really should have put Liverpool into the lead on the stroke of half-time. But the forward lashed his effort off the crossbar, despite having the goal at his mercy:
Leno saves Jota’s header and then Minamino rattles the crossbar from three yards out!
Watch live now on Sky Sports Football pic.twitter.com/Ml2eDoTHYC
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) October 1, 2020
The first 45 drew to a close with Mikel Arteta probably the happier of the two managers.
The north Londoners had looked superior throughout much of the first-half, with Liverpool struggling to break down a well-drilled Arsenal backline.
Leno the hero
The second-half started in much the same fashion as the first, with neither side looking anywhere near their best.
Virgil van Dijk would come closest to scoring early on, forcing a solid reaction save from Leno.
And the hosts went close again just moments later, only to be denied by a deflection.
Grujic headed wide from the resulting corner, as Liverpool began to pile the pressure on the visitors. The Serbian midfielder, who returned to the club this past summer, continued to shine as the clash wore on, soon seeing another long-range effort tipped wide by Leno.
Despite seeing his side gain the upper hand in the tie, however, Jurgen Klopp opted to haul off Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah for Joe Gomez and Divock Origi on the hour-mark.
Nevertheless, Liverpool continued to pile the pressure on Leno, with the Arsenal no.1 forced to make a number of quality saves to deny Jota and then Grujic within the space of a few minutes.
With Liverpool hammering on Arsenal’s door, Arteta opted to introduce Mohamed Elneny for Ceballos.
This change, for the most part, had a positive impact, with a superb last-ditch tackle from Neco Williams having been required to prevent Saka from bursting through on goal a few moments later.
Adrian then made a great save to deny Rob Holding, after the centre-back connected with a lovely cross from Pepe.
Alexandre Lacazette was thrown on for the final 10 minutes of the clash, as Arsenal pushed for a late winner.
Neither side was able to break the deadlock, though, forcing the game to penalties.
And after Leno saved penalties from both Origi and Harry Wilson, Joe Willock stepped up to fire Arsenal through to the last eight.
In truth, very few players from either side stood out this evening. But, if one could be chosen as the star of the show, it was Bernd Leno.
As well as saving two penalties, the German kept Arsenal in the clash in the second-half, with a number of quality saves.
This article was edited by Conor Laird.
Arsenal betting odds, next game:
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