A stubborn Liverpool side were beaten by London opposition in the League Cup once again, in a match where Alberto Aquilani made his first-team debut.
Arsenal started off the game with some quick, fluid passing – but the match was relatively even until Fran Merida opened the scoring for Arsenal with a shot that went in off the post.
Liverpool responded almost immediately through Emiliani Insua, who lashed a dipping screamer past Fabianski from 25-yards out. Some would argue that it’s one of the best strikes they’ve ever seen, and it certainly wouldn’t be a exaggeration.
It was a very open game, which Rafa wouldn’t have been particularly pleased about. Both defences looked shaky and vulnerable, and at the same time the attacking play looked sharp and accurate.
Arsenal continued with their incisive play, and soon hit the Reds on the counter-attack, with Ramsey playing Gibbs through – only for Skrtel to head the danger away at the last minute. It was definitely a good piece of defending by the Slovakian centre-back.
As half-time edged nearer, Arsenal started to gain momentum – and set about trying to convert their possession into goals as Cavalieri missed a cross. The Gunners and the Reds got mixed up in a huge goal-mouth struggle, and eventually it fell to Bendtner, who shot straight at the Brazilian shot-stopper.
Liverpool began the second-half in the ascendancy, dominating possession for the first few minutes – until they were dealt a sucker punch by Arsenal. Kieran Gibbs played a through-ball for Nicklas Bendtner, who gratefully fired it into the roof of the net.
Liverpool pressed for an equaliser, and eventually won a free-kick 25-yards out. Up step Ryan Babel, who fired a low drive which headed for the bottom-left hand corner – but Fabianski made a crucial save, and held on to it. If there was one good thing that the Dutchman managed to do all game, then that was it.
Just minutes later Dirk Kuyt squared another ball to Babel, who, 3-yards out, missed a complete sitter and a golden opportunity to put Liverpool right back in the game. It just wasn’t Babel’s day.
On the 75-minute mark, Aquilani was introduced to the Emirates and almost immeditely made an impact. The Italian played a raking 60-yard diagonal pass through to Degen who was charging down the right flank. The Swiss latched on to it and squared the ball for Babel, only for the Dutchman to turn the wrong way and loss possession deep in the Arsenal box.
The Reds pressed for an equaliser towards the end, booting the ball upfield in search of a black shirt. After several attacks there was a scramble on the edge of the Arsenal area. Aquilani found the loose ball and tried an ambitious overhead kick – which hit Senderos straight on the arm.
Penalty? It wasn’t given, but it so easily could have been.
In the end though, the Gunners held out for the win. Liverpool meanwhile, go out earlier than they should again.
Post Match Comments
“I haven’t seen it but Aquilani told me it was a penalty.
“Anyway, you can’t change it now.
“It’s disappointing to have lost but we saw some quality and it was a good game with chances for both teams.
“Aquilani showed quality – his match fitness is something he can only improve by playing games.
“Hopefully he can have a big impact on our season.”
Liverpool: Cavalieri, Insua, Skrtel, Kyrgiakos, Degen, Babel, Plessis, Spearing, Kuyt (c), Voronin, Ngog.
Subs: Reina, Aquilani, Benayoun, Darby, Dossena, Eccleston, Ayala
Arsenal: Fabianski, Gibbs, Senderos, Silvestre (c), Gilbert, Merida, Ramsey, Eastmond, Nasri, Bendtner, Eduardo.
Subs: Bartley, Coquelin, Frimpong, Randall, Sunu, Szczesny, Watt
Ref: Alan Wiley
Our Man of the Match
Philipp Degen looked pretty good bombing down the right-hand side. Both his attacking and defending play were superb. Hope to see more of him in the future.