LONDON – Emirates Stadium doesn’t usually explode with anticipation. If it’s been a default mood over the past 15 years, it’s probably been steady discontent, promises unfulfilled since Arsenal’s upgrade from Highbury. Not Thursday night, at least before a ball is kicked.
There is faith in the air. Mikel Arteta and his 10-man band returned from Anfield with their tie still on. The inspirational bond of solidarity that Arsenal’s young guns have inspired has only been tightened by those at the top towards the club because of their request to postpone the north London derby. There is energy harnessed here. It looks like the Gunners will do so shortly.
Almost as quickly as it appeared, it was extinguished. Diogo Jota scored but it was the people behind him that killed this EFL Cup semi-final, methodically and carefully. There’s no such thing as heavy metal football from Jurgen Klopp’s men – this is more precisely, more chilling. If anything, it was pretty boring, a tie that had frothed along nicely being dropped into an ice bath.
Few would have seen such a tame ending at the start of this game. With Emirates backing them, Arsenal have done their duty in a strong way. Mikel Arteta’s side went on to the field with attitude, determination and a clear blueprint: Release Gabriel Martinelli to Trent Alexander-Arnold at every opportunity. It was a one-way battle, the Brazilian beating his man at will with a quick change of pace and a delicate first touch. In such cases, Jordan Henderson will often move sideways to provide support, in doing so he frees up the internal channel for Emile Smith Rowe, who has moved fearlessly forward.
An early foul from a few yards in the box and Arsenal felt it was their moment. Alexandre Lacazette steps up to take the free kick, which goes wide into the top corner. Caoimhin Kelleher could have covered it anyway when it hit the bar. Arsenal are entering their virtuoso cycle. Each dart field brings further credence from a noticeably younger and more boisterous crowd even if these accusations don’t actually lead to a shot.
Even the moments of danger bring nothing to worry about. Joel Matip pokes a gap for Fabinho to head past Aaron Ramsdale but from an offside position. Emirates rejoices at Liverpool’s early ecstasy, lonely red smoke from a lone fire. Continue like this and North Bank will probably suck the ball into the net.
A thud and they are brought back to reality. Roberto Firmino equalized striker Gabriel, a quick heel hit Alexander-Arnold’s net. Jota hit, the first attacker this season to really test Takehiro Tomiyasu. Pushed to the floor, he could only watch as Jota finished a terrifying steering drive with his finest finishes, Ramsdale out of control as the ball rolled back in his direction.
What came next was no less impressive for Liverpool than Mohamed Salah when he was full of forces. Imagine a boot that made its mark in an EFL Cup semi-final – forever. Klopp’s team squeezed out their life on the Emirates Stadium. They can allow a glimmer of hope, an Alexandre Lacazette volley here, a Bukayo Saka cross there. Better to really crush any Arsenal beliefs.
Every brief, dangerous foul from Arsenal was mercilessly punished with a misguided 30-pass move that sent any onlooker into the fray. “Half back to center, back to wing, back to center. Center holds it. Hold it. Hold it…”
The familiar “come to Arsenal” slogan – a frustrating decades-long verse – was mentioned. The chance is Liverpool’s. Ibrahima Konate’s header from the corner hit the post before Ramsdale blocked Henderson’s effort with a bounce. Arsenal live in a draw, stuck in a catatonic state. Only Martinelli didn’t seem to hesitate with the task at hand, still checking Liverpool’s defence even as they threw two or more at him. A tense header from Kelleher’s near post was well saved, a volley flashed as Arsenal tried to dig deep from a two-goal hole.
It happened that when Jota broke in after Arsenal’s offside trap to tackle Ramsdale, VAR concluded Gabriel would play the Liverpool striker even if referee Lee Betts felt otherwise. It’s doubly gratifying for the itinerant supporters, whose cries now reverberate around an area that 80 minutes ago looked like a fortress.
As they meant it, the Arsenal chiefs were gone. Nine and a half hours after encountering in the UK following Ghana’s early exit from the Africa Cup of Nations, Thomas Partey knocked himself out of Sunday’s Premier League game against Burnley with a couple of clumsy fouls. Granite Xhaka will also be absent after the first leg. Thursday’s League Cup disappointment is likely to spill over into the race for fourth place in the Premier League.
What had promised to be a night of drama rather than culminating in a farce, the yard invaders’ desperate attempts to avoid the clutches of security attracted more interest than expression. this semi-final. Liverpool witnessed it, a wonderful sight happened at the Emirates Stadium.
https://www.cbssports.com/soccer/news/arsenal-vs-liverpool-score-diogo-jota-double-fires-jurgen-klopps-reds-to-efl-cup-final-vs-chelsea/ Arsenal vs Liverpool score: Diogo Jota double helps Jurgen Klopp’s Reds reach EFL Cup final against Chelsea