Arsenal's Granit Xhaka leaves the pitch after being sent off during the EFL Cup semifinal, first leg soccer match between Liverpool and Arsenal at the Anfield Stadium in Liverpool, Thursday, Jan.13, 2022.(AP Photo/Jon Super)


Arsenal held Liverpool to a battling goalless draw despite Granit Xhaka’s early red card in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final.

With the tie finally getting under way seven days after its original date, following last week’s postponement, Xhaka managed to last just 24 minutes at Anfield before being sent off for a reckless last-man challenge on Diogo Jota.

But thanks to a brilliant defensive display, and a somewhat underwhelming Liverpool performance, Arsenal will have a real spring in their step ahead of the second leg at the Emirates Stadium in seven days.

Xhaka red card ‘a ridiculous challenge’

One long pass from Andy Robertson found the run of Jota, and as he tried to race into the box he was caught by Xhaka with a high boot to his chest. It was reckless, and Oliver had no choice but to send him off.

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Jamie Carragher says Granit Xhaka fully deserved to be sent off following his ‘ridiculous’ challenge on Diogo Jota in the Carabao Cup clash between Liverpool and Arsenal.

Jamie Carragher on Sky Sports Football:

“Xhaka did what Xhaka does. He makes an absolutely ridiculous challenge when Jota still has so much to do.

“The way he has taken him out and with the force he does it. There’s no doubt it’s a red card.”

Team news

  • Jurgen Klopp named as strong a side as he feasibly could, with Roberto Firmino and Takumi Minamino coming into attack for the absent pair of Mo Salah and Sadio Mane.
  • Mikel Arteta handed a further start to Eddie Nketiah up front, while Cedric Soares played at right-back. Martin Odegaard missed out after testing positive for Covid.

Liverpool labour

Most inside Anfield would have expected an onslaught from the moment of Xhaka’s dismissal. But without Mo Salah and Sadio Mane there was a worrying lack of incision in Liverpool’s attacks. Opportunities created were few and far between, and Aaron Ramsdale was rarely tested in the Arsenal goal. Takumi Minamino and Roberto Firmino struggled to have much of an impact in their place.

One of the few clear chances after the red card probably fell to Arsenal on 72 minutes, as Alexandre Lacazette and Kieran Tierney combined before the latter found Bukayo Saka in the box, but he was denied by the quick thinking of Alisson – as he raced off his line to prevent him converting.

There was time for Liverpool to snatch the win on 90 minutes, but Minamino somehow conspired to blaze over the bar and into the Kop with the goal at his mercy.

Carabao Cup schedule

Thursday 20th January 7:00pm

Kick off 7:45pm

  • Second leg takes place at the Emirates Stadium next Thursday, January 20. Live on Sky Sports Football from 7pm; kick-off 7.45pm.
  • The winners of this tie face Chelsea in the final at Wembley on Sunday, February 27

What’s next for Liverpool and Arsenal?

Sunday 16th January 4:00pm

Kick off 4:30pm

Ahead of next week’s second leg both sides are back in Premier League action on Sunday. Liverpool host Brentford in a 2pm kick-off, while Arsenal head to Tottenham for a huge north London derby, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 4pm; Kick-off 4.30pm.


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