League Cup: Toothless Liverpool Held By 10-Man Arsenal In Semi-Final

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Arsenal held on for more than an hour a man down to exit the League Cup semi-final with Liverpool delicately poised after the first leg ended 0-0 at Anfield on Thursday. The Gunners looked ready to pay for another moment of madness from former captain Granit Xhaka when he was sent off for bringing down Diogo Jota after just 24 minutes. However, Liverpool sorely missed the firepower of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane as they worked to create chances against all 10 men.

Chelsea are already expecting the winners at Wembley next month after the first leg, originally scheduled to be played at the Emirates last week, was canceled due to a coronavirus outbreak among the Liverpool side.

The Reds were missing Salah and Mane due to their international duties at the African Cup of Nations.

However, Liverpool otherwise had a clean bill of health and Jurgen Klopp named the strongest side available to him.

The home team had the best part of a cautious first quarter with Ben White’s ill-advised clearance from a Takumi Minamino cross that went just wide the closest either side came before the red card.

Xhaka remains a key player for Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta despite his disciplinary problems.

But he will miss Sunday’s north London derby against Tottenham and the second leg next Thursday after being sent off for the second time this season.

Jota was outplayed by a long pass from Andy Robertson and the Portuguese was brutally brought down by a lunge from Xhaka.

Arteta responded by sacrificing Eddie Nketiah for an extra centre-back at Rob Holding and the visiting five defenders held on well despite Liverpool dominating possession.

The missed Minamino crossing that opened inches wide was the closest Klopp’s men came to making the breakthrough before the German went back to his bench for the final half hour.

The Japanese had all of Liverpool’s best chances as he dragged his shot wide from a narrow angle midway through the second half.

Moments later, a rare Arsenal foray almost resulted in the winner when Kieran Tierney chose Bukayo Saka, but he was unable to beat Alisson Becker from close range.

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There was further concern for Arteta when Saka limped off in the closing stages.

And all of his team’s good work was almost undone in death when Aaron Ramsdale waved a cross, but Minamino struck high and wide with an open goal to put it all on the line in the second leg in the Emirates on January 20. .

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