Joe Willock secured Arsenal’s first win at Anfield since 2012 with the winning penalty kick in a shootout after 90 minutes without a goal to put them in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals last night.
Liverpool have paid the price for not making the most of their dominance in normal times, having beaten their opponents 16-6.
Divock Origi and Harry Wilson, in sudden death, both saw efforts saved and with only Mohamed Elneny failing for Arsenal he was left to Willock to secure a 5-4 victory with the decisive kick, to which Adrian took got hold of it but could not prevent. .
Unusually for matches between these two teams – Anfield’s last nine encounters in all competitions have netted 48 goals – it was the goalkeepers who took center stage even before the shootout.
Mikel Arteta’s decision to stick with first choice Bernd Leno was premonitory as the Germany international made a series of second-half saves, while Liverpool second choice Adrian kept the scoreless. with an instinctive stop of a Rob Holding head at close range.
This only resulted in a second goalless draw in 21 years between the two.
Liverpool made nine changes from Monday’s Premier League win, keeping only Virgil Van Dijk and Mohamed Salah, with Arsenal keeping Leno, Holding and Granit Xhaka after the loss.
Xherdan Shaqiri, who impressed in the previous round, was left out as two clubs inquired about signing him ahead of the transfer deadline.
With both sides lining up second strings, it wasn’t surprising that there was a drop in quality, but there should have been enough depth in both teams to avoid a rather ordinary first half.
It only came to life a minute before the interval when Diogo Jota had a header saved by Leno with Takumi Minamino hitting the rebound against the five-yard crossbar.
The previous game had seen Arsenal attempt to break through the Reds’ high line, having enjoyed some success with him in the second half on Monday, including trying to use Nicolas Pepe’s pace by isolating him against the 19-year-old right. back Neco Williams.
It was a diminishing returns tactic as they failed to register a shot on target, despite the Ivorian international breaking up and switching to Willock, who opted to fire instead of shooting and Eddie Nketiah was dispossessed by the hand of goalkeeper Adrian.
The second half saw Leno give a lot more to do, with Van Dijk’s low shot well saved and Marko Grujic denied twice, once from a distance and again from a loop header.
In between, the Gunners goaltender also saved from Jota, who smartly attacked Sead Kolasinac with his chest control from Curtis Jones’ cross pass.
Arsenal’s attacks were becoming increasingly rare, but when they got overloaded at the far post, Williams took the ball off the toes of Bukayo Saka – in the starting lineup hours after his first call to England – and the Adrian’s resulting wedge made his a backup of the note.
But it was Willock who has made eight unbeaten National Cup appearances for Arteta since taking charge of the Gunners, leading them to FA Cup triumph last season.