Liverpool didn’t take advantage of playing against 10 men for 70 minutes, failing to even register a shot on target against Arsenal in the League Cup semi-final first leg.
Liverpool 0-0 Arsenal
League Cup Semi-Final First-Leg, Anfield
January 13, 2022
Sent off: Xhaka (24′)
This was due to be the second-leg, but Liverpool relinquished the home advantage when last week’s first-leg was postponed due to a covid outbreak among the Reds’ squad.
Given recent events, and with some senior players not having played for a fortnight or more, it was an unusually strong starting XI that Jurgen Klopp named. Indeed, it was Alisson‘s debut in the competition.
Liverpool had the majority of possession in the opening 20, but failed to create any real goalscoring chances. A succession of corners were easily cleared.
A long ball forward by Andy Robertson over the top for Diogo Jota saw Granit Xhaka with a wild last-man challenge and the most straightforward red card of Michael Oliver’s career.
From then on Arsenal, understandably, were happy for Liverpool to have even more of the ball, but the Reds failed to take advantage of the extra man and hadn’t even managed a shot on target by half time.
Instead, corners were wasted, final passes were sloppy, and opportunities were few and far between.
Half time: Liverpool 0-0 Arsenal
Despite Liverpool’s clear lack of need for more creativity in midfield, there were no changes at half time, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Curtis Jones remaining on the sidelines.
The second half could only be better, surely.
The Kop tried to get the team going, but still there were no chances and no shots on target by the hour mark when finally a sub arrived, Jones replacing James Milner.
Jones provided more drive and impetus from midfield than any of the other midfielders had in the preceding hour.
Liverpool’s failure to test Aaron Ramsey in the Arsenal goal was all the more frustrating given that the ‘keeper is well known for parrying shots for rebounds. One player who would take a shot, Oxlade-Chamberlain, remained sat on the bench.
Instead, the first big chance and first shot on target of the match arrived for the 10-men visitors, when Alisson made a good block at the feet of Saka in the 72nd minute.
Klopp finally brought on Oxlade-Chamberlain, along with Neco Williams and Joe Gomez, with 15 minutes remaining.
Still, no goals, no shots on target, no clear cut chances.
That was, until the final seconds of the 90 when the ball dropped for Minamino 12 yards out and he blazed the ball over the bar.
“We’ve only got 10 men” sang the away fans.
70 minutes against 10 men and zero shots on target from the home side in a semi-final at Anfield. It really isn’t good enough.
The second leg takes place at the Emirates next week, with Brentford the visitors to Anfield in the league on Sunday before then – both sides will be rubbing their hands against this toothless Liverpool attack.
TIA Man of the Match: Curtis Jones
Referee: Michael Oliver
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold (Williams 76′), Matip (Gomez 76′), Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho (Oxlade-Chamberlain 76′), Henderson, Milner (Jones 61′); Jota, Minamino, Firmino
Subs not used: Kelleher, Konate, Morton, Tsimikas, Gordon
Arsenal: Ramsdale; Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tierney; Lokonga, Xhaka; Saka Lacazette, Nketiah, Martinelli
Subs: Leno, Holding, Mari, Chambers, Tavares, Patino, Salah-Eddine, Hutchinson, Biereth
Next match: Brentford (H) – Premier League – Sunday, January 12, 2pm (GMT)