Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool
FA Cup third round, Emirates Stadium
January 7, 2024
Goals: Kiwior OG 80′, Diaz 90′
Alisson (out of 10) – 8
The Brazilian saved to deny both Kai Havertz and Ben White from distance in the first half, and his distribution was always calm, helping slow the play down.
A last-gasp catch from a corner summed up his superb presence.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 9
Alexander-Arnold is absolutely purring at the moment.
The 25-year-old’s technical quality was again on show, with one lovely first touch and swivel in the middle of the park a delightful moment.
He thundered an angled strike against the crossbar, too, before his free-kick saw Jakub Kiwior turn the ball into his own net.
Ibrahima Konate – 9 (Man of the Match)
Konate was the senior man at the heart of Liverpool’s defence with Van Dijk missing – and did a fantastic job overall, standing out as the Reds’ star man.
Dominant in the air and strong physically, the Frenchman got the better of Havertz a lot of the time, and made some vital blocks to thwart the dangerous Gabriel Martinelli when he came on.
A man mountain.
Jarell Quansah – 8
With Van Dijk absent through illness, Quansah had another chance to outline the vast potential he has displayed in recent months.
The youngster was part of a back-line that gave up too many chances in the opening 45 minutes, but he again looked an impressive presence for Liverpool.
Overcame an injury before the interval and even brought the ball out confidently. Very impressive.
Joe Gomez – 8
Again being used at left-back, Gomez made a slow start against the Gunners but improved hugely as the game went on.
He had a big test up against Arsenal‘s best attacking player in Bukayo Saka, but dealt with him excellently, making key blocks as he threatened to create chances.
Fired over from 30 yards, but that elusive first-ever goal continues to elude him!
Alexis Mac Allister – 6
In truth, there was an unsurprising rustiness, looking off the pace and struggling with Arsenal‘s press.
Substituted in a planned sub on the hour, and Liverpool improved thereafter.
Curtis Jones – 8
Jones is in a great place at the moment, proving to be a genuinely key man, and he was a reliable presence yet again.
The young Scouser couldn’t quite stamp his authority on proceedings, even though he kept possession well, but like so many, he got better as the minutes passed.
So press-resistant, and continues to look like Gini Wijnaldum 2.0.
Cody Gakpo – 6
Gakpo started in the No.8 role that he has been used in sporadically this season, and he looked like a player not in his best position.
The Dutchman couldn’t get involved in the game, and didn’t offer the defensive quality of someone like Dominik Szoboszlai, and he was too timid.
Looked a little better after moving up front at half time, but was replaced on the hour for the far more productive Diogo Jota.
Harvey Elliott – 7
As has been widely expected, Elliott took up Mohamed Salah‘s right-sided attacking role, hoping to have a similar impact cutting inside.
It is unfair to compare him to the Egyptian King, and he lacked his teammate’s killer instinct and pace in the final third, but the positives easily outweighed the negatives.
Looked a lot better when moved back into midfield at the interval.
Luis Diaz – 7
Diaz produced one of his best performances of the season against Newcastle, and while he was often kept quiet in the first half here, he ended up having a big say on the result.
The Colombian was denied by an expert Aaron Ramsdale stop late in the day, but buried a stunning finish past him deep into stoppage time.
Positive signs that he is gradually returning to top form – and surely the best option on the right side while Salah is away?
Darwin Nunez – 6
Nunez started down the middle of Liverpool’s attack, as he looked to silence his continued critics who feel his finishing is too rash.
He was again hit-and-miss, though, failing to hold the ball up enough and proving to be too inconsistent with his end product.
That being said, his pace did stretch Arsenal‘s defence when he moved to the left at half time and he was rarely out of action in the second half.
Gives away too many silly fouls and really needs to be more consistent with his finishing.
Diogo Jota (on for Gakpo, 59′) – 8
Looked like making things happen and got William Saliba booked after a driving run. Hit the bar with a header and created the second goal for Diaz.
Ryan Gravenberch (on for Mac Allister, 59′) – 7
Brought energy and quality to the midfield.
Conor Bradley (on for Elliott, 75′) – 7
Defended doggedly and made one big headed clearance in stoppage time. Impressive cameo.
Bobby Clark (on for Jones, 75′) – 6
Good tactical yellow card late on.
Subs not used: Kelleher, Chambers, McConnell, Nyoni, Gordon
Jurgen Klopp – 9
The FA Cup may not be Liverpool’s priority this season, but it was a sign that it still means a lot to the Reds boss, who masterminded a brilliant win, utilising his full squad expertly.
Without 10 players, the team almost picked itself, but planning to use Gravenberch to replace the returning Mac Allister on the hour was wise.
Liverpool were poor before the break, but they really grew into the contest and the manager deserves huge praise for his half-time team changes.
The two double subs, on the hour and then 75 minutes, each made Liverpool better. Bravo, boss.
The quadruple is still alive for Klopp and his players!