I’m pretty sure that was the strongest team Mikel Arteta could field out their last night. Jurgen Klopp too. Clearly, both managers want to be at Wembley next month.
Another big match and another red card for an Arsenal player. This time it was Granit Xhaka. Michael Oliver had only one thing in his mind when Xhaka’s clumsy left boot went into the chest of Jota. Out came the red card and Xhaka was gone.
I want to apologise to everyone. I am so proud of my team and the spirit they they showed to keep a clean sheet tonight. – Granit Xhaka on social media.
No doubt like me, most Arsenal fans feared a Liverpool goal fest afterwards.
Instead of crumbling though, or feeling sorry for themselves, every single Arsenal player went into ‘defend at all costs’ mode. I’m going to heap a tonne of praise on Calum Chambers this morning because having not played for such a long time, he came off the bench to replace Cedric Soares and played as if his life depended on him playing well. I thought he was superb.
Arsenal, with ten men, restricted Liverpool to just one shot on target all game which says everything really about the way the players dug in. Yes it was scrappy at times, but it didn’t matter.
For all the possession Liverpool had for over an hour, the best chance fell to Arsenal with around 20 minutes left on the clock. Alex Lacazette, doing his defensive duties, played the ball to Kieran Tierney who lofted a ball into the box, over the head of a Liverpool defender and into Bukayo Saka’s feet. Saka’s first touch was heavy which allowed Alisson time to get off his line to smother his shot.
Right at the end of normal time, Minamimo blasted his shot over the bar and into the stands when it looked easier to score than miss. Cue laughter in my house and every other Arsenal fan’s I suspect.
“Liverpool were awful” – that’s the headlines today. Without Salah and Mane they were different, of course they were but then so is every other team who’re missing players because of the ACON. We ourselves have players away on international duty. We also have injuries and Covid 19 impacting on squad in a big way. ESR, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Martin Odegaard to name a few who if fit, would have featured last night I’m sure, as would Thomas Partey, Mo Elneny and Pepe. The media forget that.
Instead of focusing on how poor Liverpool were, if they were of course, I prefer to look at last night’s performance and praise our players and manager for cramping Jurgen Klopp’s side for over an hour. Not many other teams have managed that achievement with eleven players let alone ten.
Cedric Soares and Bukayo Saka went off injured during the match and with Granit Xhaka now banned for a couple of fixtures, our squad really is down to the bare bones. I think Arsenal will try and get this weekend’s NLD postponed, something he was asked about in his post match interview:
I don’t know. It’s a possibility in any game from our side, from the opponents’ side, because of the amount of issues that everybody is having and because it’s happening every week, but we try to prepare for the games thinking that we’re going to play. If something happens along the way, it is what it is.
Anyway, we’re in with a really good chance of making it to Wembley next month if we can make home advance count in a week’s time.
Arsenal really need to move quickly in this transfer window though because we need a midfielder sharpish. Like, today!
Paper Talk from Sky Sports:
- Juventus are ready to make an offer for Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after losing Federico Chiesa to a season-ending injury. The Sun.
- Udinese are closing on a deal to sign out-of-favour Arsenal defender Pablo Mari on loan for the second half of the season. Daily Mail.
- Arsenal are ready to make a second offer for Palmeiras midfielder Danilo, but the Brazilian club are not keen on selling the player before February’s Club World Cup. The Express.
- Juventus midfielder Arthur Melo is confident that he will join Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal in the January transfer window. Daily Mail/HITC.
If Juventus really do want Aubameyang, Melo moving to Arsenal is a possibility I suppose.
Negotiations between Arsenal and Juventus for Arthur Melo will continue in the coming hours. Arsenal offering loan deal plus full salary covered until June – no obligation to buy clause included, as of now. 🇧🇷 #AFC
Juventus are not accepting until they find a replacement.
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) January 14, 2022
See you in the comments.