Arsenal secured an outstanding 0-0 draw at Liverpool on Thursday despite seeing Granit Xhaka sent off in the first half of their Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at Anfield.
Mikel Arteta was hit with a string of absences for this match, with the number of players unavailable even greater than in the 1-0 FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest.
On the positive front Granit Xhaka returned to midfield alongside Sambi Lokonga, but there was no involvement for any of Takehiro Tomiyasu, Emile Smith Rowe or Martin Odegaard, who are facing a race against time to face Tottenham in the Premier League.
Youngsters Omari Hutchinson, Mika Biereth and Salah Oulad M’Hand all traveled with to Anfield in a match where the manager was forced to shuffle his pack around.
Arsenal player ratings vs Liverpool as Granit Xhaka is sent off but Gunners hold on for 0-0 draw in Carabao Cup semi-final first leg
Arsenal were forced into an early change when Cedric went off injured, and then the waves of Liverpool pressure ensued. However, just when Arsenal were finally finding their feet and creating some intriguing moments on the break, madness struck.
Granit Xhaka’s idiotic high leg caught Jota in his midriff when he was clean through on goal, handing him a deserved red card and three game ban. You genuinely can’t write this kind of stuff. Somehow, despite being up against the odds, Arsenal held on until half-time.
After the break Arsenal continued to show outstanding courage and determination as they fought tooth and nail against wave after wave of Reds attacks.
It was a performance to be proud of. Wow. The energy of the team was second to none and not a single player left anything out on that pitch. This tie is very much all still to play for. Ten men or not, you’d have taken 0-0 before kick off.
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Aaron Ramsdale (GK) – 6/10 – Had a nervy moment in the first half but that was his only involvement as Arsenal managed to prevent the Reds from having a shot on goal. Was a bit loose on crosses and wide deliveries in the second half.
Cedric Soares (RB) – N/A – Suffered a hip injury seconds into the game and efforts to run it off didn’t work. He came off after ten minutes.
Benjamin White (CB) – 9/10 – As Arsenal were being pummeled by Liverpool’s belligerent press the workload on the central defenders was immense. It would require something special and White stood up to the task. He was exceptional, whether dealing with the ball on the floor, positioning correctly in transition of clearing smartly.
Gabriel (CB) – 8/10 – His head was a cement block at Anfield. No header wasn’t gobbled up by the Brazilian on his return to the side. Another storming performance in the heart of defence.
Kieran Tierney (LB) – 8/10 – Defended his space expertly and timed his runs forward to close possession or join an attack well all evening.
Continued on next page…