Liverpool X - Y Arsenal
Reds: Player XX’, Player XX’, Player XX’
Gunners: Player XX’, Player XX’, Player XX’ (Header 5)
Jurgen Klopp has decided that the youth movement—the beautiful academy lads who got us here—are out at this advanced stage of the competition. Klopp’s Liverpool are a two-legged semifinal away from an opportunity for a trophy, and he obviously doesn’t want to let this opportunity pass. Even Alisson is in, marking the Brazilian’s first appearance in England’s second most prestigious domestic cup competition.
Arsenal start the match with some rather conspicuous timewasting in the opening 5 minutes. If this is a preview of things to come, it could be quite the frustrating 180 minutes of football! When not time wasting, the Gunners think that they can play some Route 1 football and get in with speed over the top; they’ve been close to getting in twice already, so that’s something to keep an eye on.
Arsenal have put in some vicious tackles in the opening quarter of an hour. First Virgil van Dijk was clattered into around midfield, and then Diogo Jota just a few moments later. Meanwhile Liverpool have upped the tempo, and are putting the Arsenal defense under loads of pressure. Jordan Henderson nearly got in with some smart pressing of the keeper, and a couple of shots deflected just wide of the target. Keep firing, assholes!
RED CARD! Andy Robertson picked out Jota’s run with a long diagonal, and Granit Xhaka stopped the opportunity with a boot to Jota’s chest. Ref Michael Oliver could have sent him off for denial of a goal scoring opportunity OR violent conduct. Impressive! Unfortunately Trent Alexander-Arnold couldn’t put the free kick, or the ensuing shot from a rebound, on target.
In the fifteen minutes since the red card, Arsenal have done fairly well at digging in and not giving the hosts much joy. As is often the case when a team a team goes down to 10 men, Arsenal have effectively stopped playing football. It’ll still take some hard work to break these down, though Liverpool definitely have the upper hand. Or foot.
The half ends scoreless, which is quite disappointing all things considered. Still, Arsenal are likely to tire in the second half, especially playing down a man. If Liverpool can keep the pressure up, they should be able to find a way through.
No changes at the half. If Klopp wants to turn the screw, he’s at least waiting to make any big (or minor) changes. Liverpool keep trying to find a way through the defense, but are definitely starting to get frustrated. Most passes into the box are being cut out, and most shots are being blocked. A little patience would go a long way.
And nothing much happened for the first 15 minutes of the half. As the hour mark approaches, Klopp decides to bring Curtis Jones on for James Milner.
Liverpool look moderately better since Jones came on, but still haven’t really threatened to score. Klopp makes three unexpected subs with 15 minutes to go, bringing on Joe Gomez for Matip, Neco Williams for Alexander-Arnold, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on for Fabinho. Well, that’s certainly a roll of the dice!
Minamino has been close on a couple of occasions tonight, but he’ll really want that one back. Not much has fallen in the box for the Reds, but one dropped right in front of goal in the 90th minute for Taki to pounce on, but he sent it well over the bar. Sigh.
Final Thoughts and Man of the Match
Arsenal are made up at the final whistle, which should tell you everything you need to know about this result. It’s a huge missed opportunity, especially being up a man for 70 minutes. There’s still everything left to play for down in London, but the Reds will need to find their shooting (and finishing) boots between now and then.
Who was Liverpool’s Man of the Match vs. Arsenal?
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Virgil van Dijk