Banishing the idea that this is ‘settling for mediocrity’, Arsenal were miles off Liverpool just a few weeks ago. That hasn’t changed. They are still quite some distance away from being discussed in that bracket.
So to have left Merseyside with a goalless draw after playing for more than 70 minutes with ten men is a source of great pride. That was guts and determination that a ten-man George Graham side would have been patted themselves on the back over.
Losing Granit Xhaka to a gormless last man foul in the 24th minute had the potential to demolish Arsenal. It could have completely demoralised the group, unsettled individuals and offset any gameplan the team had.
Arsenal’s cultural reset evidenced in glorious fashion as squad unity battles to 0-0 draw against Liverpool in Carabao Cup semi-final
They flourished in the face of that adversity.
What got Arsenal through was a performance that encapsulated the cultural reboot that has been undertaken across Mikel Arteta’s tenure. The team that crumbled to a 5-1 defeat at Anfield little over three years ago would not have banded together like that. No chance.
Not a single player left anything out on that pitch. This season Arsenal have suffered some dejecting defeats, but on no occasion did the group not put their life on the line for the manager, each other, or the fans. They’d run through brick walls for each other, just as they would Arteta.
Discarding all the rotten eggs from the basket – we all know who they were – and forging a new atmosphere within the entire club pays dividends on nights like these. Without unity between every facet of the organisation there will always be a ceiling to what is achievable.
Everyone has to push in the right direction. And that starts as soon as you walk into work first thing in the morning. From the ground up a culture has been formed, a brotherhood, as Arteta put it, that breathes the notion that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Watching that unfold at Anfield symbolised that as coherently has any performance seen so far. It will be needed at Tottenham.