Liverpool (2) 5 Arsenal (3) 5
Arsenal lose the match 4-5 on penalties
Carabao Cup (EFL Cup), Fourth Round
Anfield Stadium, Anfield Rd, Liverpool L4 0TH
Wednesday, 30th October 2019. Kick-off time:7.30pm
(4-2-3-1) Emiliano Martínez; Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, Rob Holding, Sead Kolašinac; Lucas Torreira, Joe Willock; Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Mesut Özil, Bukayo Saka; Gabriel Martinelli.
Substitutes: Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Kieran Tierney, Dani Ceballos, Alexandre Lacazette, Nicolas Pépé, Mattéo Guendouzi, Matt Macey
Scorers: Lucas Torreira (18 mins), Gabriel Martinelli (26 mins, 31 mins), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (53 mins), Joe Willock (70 mins)
Yellow Cards: Joe Willock, Sead Kolašinac, Bukayo Saka
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 34%
Referee: Andre Marriner
Back to Anfield, back to the scene of the crime of 24th August; only this time, we meet in the fourth round of the oft-forgotten Carabao Cup. Any silverware is good silverware you understand, and tonight we cannot afford to make any silly errors nor lapses of concentration. However, as early as the seventh minute, that is exactly what happened here in Liverpool L4. Neco Williams ran down the line, passed the ball quickly to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who crossed it into the Arsenal six-yard box. Shkodran Mustafi slid into the flight of the ball to intercept, only to turn it into his own net. A shocking start at the worst of places; however, this merely inspired us to take the game to the home side. We certainly showed no fear, and twelve minutes after the opening goal, we equalised with a super goal from our mighty midget Lucas Torreira. Our captain tonight, the enigmatic Mesut Özil, upon the occasion of his return, played a sublime ball to Bukayo Saka, who was in acres of space (or so it seemed). His shot was saved by Caoimhín Kelleher; he merely pushed it into the path of Lucas Torreira, who made no mistake in levelling up the scores. The pace quickened, and so did our desire to score more goals.
And so as form follows function, then just eight minutes later, Ainsley Maitland-Niles found himself in space, but more importantly saw others that equally looked dangerous in better positions; his cross was tipped away by the Liverpool goalkeeper, who only served to push the ball into the orbit of Gabriel Martinelli, who unceremoniously whacked it into the roof of the net to place us in the lead! At Anfield! All before the half hour mark as well! Our exuberance and determination paid off yet again, when, you guessed it, a Mesut Özil ball found Bukayo Saka, who played the ball square for Gabriel Martinelli to score his second (and our third) of the night. Four minutes from the break, an extremely weak tackle from Gabriel Martinelli on Harvey Elliott just inside our penalty area saw the home side being granted a penalty, which James Milner scored with no problem at all. And still we came forward, and on the stroke of half-time, Gabriel Martinelli was extremely unlucky not to score, when his header sailed over the bar.
In the early stages of the second half, both sides pressed well and had their chances to score. The pace, if anything was quicker in this half than it certainly had been at any time before; it was our extra quickness on the ball that led to our fourth goal in the fifty-third minute. A schoolboy error by James Milner in passing the ball back to Caoimhín Kelleher in their penalty area, only served for Ainsley Maitland-Niles to run onto it; he knocked it wide of the goalie and ran towards the ball in earnest. Mesut Özil saved it from going over the line, and he knocked it into the path of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who scored with the easiest of finishes. Unbelievably, just four minutes later, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain nipped in front of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and scored from 20 yards; then the unthinkable. Divock Origi caught Emiliano Martínez cold, and scored to make the scores four-all in the sixty-third minute.
Mattéo Guendouzi replaced Mesut Özil with twenty-five minutes left on the clock, and suddenly our fresh legs became the most important factor at this point in the game. And sure enough, five minutes later, young Joe Willock took the bull firmly by the horns, run at the Liverpool defence and blasted the ball into the top right hand corner of the net to return the lead to us! Lucas Torreira was substituted for Dani Ceballos, and so we carried on again. The home side increased the pressure, and somehow our defence stayed firm whilst under constant attack from the Liverpool forwards. Kieran Tierney replaced Sead Kolašinac with eight minutes remaining, and our shape returned and everyone stepped up a gear. Five minutes injury time? Really? In the third minute of injury time, Neco Williams crossed for Divock Origi to score the tenth goal of the evening. So close. Penalties it is.
At the Kop end of the ground, Hector Bellerin took the first one and scored, top left. James Milner made no mistake for the home crowd, and young Mattéo Guendouzi scored our second; it was a bit touch and go, but hey, they all count. Adam Lallana scored for Liverpool; Gabriel Martinelli returns the complement with a superb well-taken penalty. Rhian Brewster makes it three-all, and sadly Dani Ceballos’ penalty was saved by Caoimhín Kelleher. Divock Origi scored, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles scored to keep our hopes alive. Not for long; Curtis Jones scored and Liverpool unfortunately went through to the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup as winners of this match.
Overall, it was a great game for the neutrals, and a heart-stopping one for those of us who support one of these teams here at Anfield tonight. The tension in the air was unbearable at times, and the excitement was such that, as supporters, it became impossible to turn away from this match for even so much as a minute, in case a goal was missed. Unai Emery certainly rang the changes, personnel wise, and it was refreshing to see the return of Mesut Özil, who at times was absolutely stunning in his vision, his passing ability and the more than considerable part that he played in three of our goals. The downside of it all was that we were still unable to hold on to a lead, and with only 35 per cent possession on the night, a solid defence would have made a victory sweeter. But it was not to be, and we can go into Saturday’s match against Wolverhampton Wanderers with a bit more of a spring in our step, and a little more belief in ourselves. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Wolverhampton Wanderers at The Emirates on Saturday, 2nd November at 3.00pm (Premier League). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.
Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.