Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool (0-2 on aggregate): Jota’s double sends Jurgen Klopp’s side to Wembley
The hosts went closest early on when Alexandre Lacazette’s free-kick was tipped onto the bar by Liverpool keeper Caoimhin Kelleher.
Jota then gave Liverpool the lead shortly before the 20-minute mark when he darted sharply inside Takehiro Tomiyasu before rolling a low shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the area. And Liverpool’s place at Wembley was assured late on when Jota dinked the ball cooly over Aaron Ramsdale.
Here are five things we learned from the game.
Jota shows Salah-esque ruthlessness
Arsenal dominated the first 18 minutes of the game. But – in the absence of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane – Jota stepped up as Liverpool’s expert marksman. And he did not disappoint, wriggling his way through Arteta’s defensive line before finding the corner with a confusingly precise finish. Then in the second half he doubled his tally for the evening with a superb run and finish – a truly elite piece of forward play.
Those goals take him to 14 in 27 appearances so far this season – only Salah has scored more goals for Klopp’s men. And his second one in particular was the kind of goal we have come to expect from Salah and Mane in recent years – just ruthlessly clinical.
Jota is establishing himself as an elite level goalscorer at a time of the season when Liverpool are going to need one if they are to pick up some silverware this season.
Arteta eradicated Arsenal’s fear of Liverpool
In the five years before Arteta arrived at the Emirates, Arsenal failed to win any of their 10 meetings against Liverpool. Seven months after his arrival, they beat them 2-1 in the Premier League at a time when Klopp’s side had already been crowned Premier League champions. Since then, two more victories over Liverpool have come in the Community Shield and Carabao Cup.
The result of those performances? The climate of fear Liverpool once held over Arsenal has clearly disappeared. Irrespective of their league positions, the home side took the game by the scruff of the neck from the first minute. They went toe-to-toe with the gegenpressing goliaths.
It might not have been the result the Arsenal fans were hoping for, but their team showed they are now confident enough to slug it out with England’s finest.
They are still lacking a little nous, a little experience. But the mentality is there. That’s not something you could have said about many Arsenal sides over the last decade.
Kelleher impressively fills Alisson’s shoes
With Alisson fit and available, it was something of a surprise that Kelleher was selected ahead of the Brazilian for this one – particularly given the Liverpool number one played the first leg. But, with starts against Chelsea and Shrewsbury already under his belt, the Irish keeper enjoyed a fine evening between the sticks.
He made a fine save to tip Lacazette’s free-kick onto the bar early on, showing nice footwork and reflexes to get across his goal and provide the all important touch. And then he stayed alert to Gabriel Martinelli’s near post attempt inside the final 20 minutes, palming that one over the top.
But it was his sweeper keeper mentality that was the most impressive part of his display. Any dangerous pass in behind the Liverpool back line was swept up by Kelleher.
Unlike Simon Mignolet, Adrian and Loris Karius who came before him, Kelleher is making himself known as a reliable understudy to Alisson, rather than a calamitous concern.
No time for a Partey
It has been a week to forget for Thomas Partey.
He was a part of the Ghana team that were dumped out of the Africa Cup of Nations with just one point and a demoralising defeat to Comoros.
Then he returned to England at midday on Thursday and was immediately included on the bench for Arsenal in their clash against Liverpool. He replaced Emile Smith Rowe in the 74th minute but would not see the final whistle.
Two yellow cards in three minutes saw Partey sent off as Arteta’s selection problems continue to pile up.
Sets up mouthwatering Carabao Cup final
Chelsea and Liverpool have provided two brilliant Premier League clashes so far this season in their 1-1 and 2-2 draws. Now we are going to be treated to a third clash between the sides. At Wembley. For a trophy.
Thomas Tuchel has faced Klopp more than any other manager in his career. But he has only gotten the better of his fellow countryman in three of their 17 meetings.
Meanwhile, Klopp has not yet won a domestic cup in England. He has failed to reach the final of the FA Cup, while his only League Cup final was six years ago when Liverpool lost on penalties to Manchester City at the start of Pep Guardiola’s stranglehold on the competition.
It is all to play for in a huge Carabao Cup final showdown on Sunday 27 February.