Result: Liverpool 5-5 Arsenal (Liverpool win 5-4 on penalties)
Competition: Carabao Cup
Date: 30 October 2019
Arsenal XI: Martinez, Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Kolasinac, Torreira, Willock, Ozil, Maitland-Niles, Saka, Martinelli
Subs: Macey, Sokratis, Tierney, Guendouzi, Ceballos, Pepe, Lacazette
Liverpool knocked Arsenal out of the Carabao Cup 5-4 on penalties following a remarkable game that ended 5-5 after 90 minutes.
Having fallen behind early to Shkodran Mustafi’s own goal, the Gunners, courtesy of Lucas Torreira’s strike and a brace from Gabriel Martinelli, went 3-1 ahead only for James Milner’s penalty to peg us back before the break.
Ainsley-Maitland Niles extended the lead in the second period before the Reds launched another comeback. This time stunning goals from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Divock Origi levelled things at 4-4. Not to be outdone, Joe Willock hammered home a rocket of his own before Origi again levelled deep into stoppage time to take the game to a shootout.
Dani Ceballos was the only player to miss before youngster Curtis Jones sealed a place in the quarter-finals in front of a raucous Kop.
Unai Emery made a full 11 changes from the side that started Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace. Hector Bellerin was given the captain’s armband in Granit Xhaka’s absence, Mesut Ozil started for the first time in a month and youngsters Bukayo Saka, Joe Willock and Gabriel Martinelli were charged with making life difficult for Liverpool’s defence. Jurgen Klopp also made sweeping changes, handing Anfield debuts to a couple of youngsters.
It was a familiar name, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was to do cause us early damage. Receiving the ball down the right win, he played a first-time cross to the near post, Mustafi needlessly went to ground and, in so doing, kneed the ball past Martinez to put the home side in front.
The German spoke recently about taking confidence from recent clean sheets in this competition and the Europa League, this was a timely reminder of why he’s been kept at arm’s length from the Premier League. He put his hand up to apologise. (1-0)
The home side looked comfortable in possession but the probing of Ozil and Saka offered a ray of hope. On 19 minutes we worked an equaliser. Martinelli, Ozil and Maitland-Niles were all involved as the ball was played from one side of the box to the other before Torreira, pouncing on a rebound from a Saka shot, tapped home from a couple of yards out.
Had VAR been available the Uruguayan might have been flagged offside, but it wasn’t. Thankfully. A second goal of the season for the little man, both of them coming at Anfield. (1-1)
Seven minutes later, Martinelli put us in front. Again the finish was from point-blank range and came off the back of a rebound. Not that the Brazilian cared about the ease of the strike as he emulated Ian Wright’s record of scoring on each of his first four starts. Kudos to Ainsley Maitland-Niles who showed great tenacity in the build-up to twice get crosses in having made himself available from a quick free-kick. (2-1)
The summer signing helped himself to a second seven minutes later as Ozil took advantage of loose play by the home side to free Saka with a backheel. The winger squared the ball to the Brazilian who smashed high past keeper Kelleher. “He scores when he wants,” sang the away fans. Indeed he does. (3-1)
The home side called for a penalty when Keita hammered the ball at Bellerin’s arm from close range. The cries for a spot-kick had barely died down before the home side were actually awarded one. Martinelli hung a leg out in the box and Elliott went over dramatically. The ref pointed to the spot and Milner sent Martinez the wrong way. (3-2)
Martinelli really should have made amends by completing his hat-trick in first half stoppage time but he couldn’t get any power on a header with only the keeper to beat. There was still time for Origi to threaten an equaliser. He also failed with his head, the ball flashing over the bar.
The basketball continued after the break. Brewster hit wide after harrying Mustafi and Saka twice hit over. Freed by Torreira on a third occasion, he couldn’t get the ball out of his feet and a chance to try a lob went begging.
A fourth goal came soon enough. Milner’s awful back pass to Kelleher was stolen by Maitland-Niles who tried to squeeze the ball home. It dribbled just wide of the post but Ozil improvised a brilliant flick to keep it in play and Ainsley couldn’t miss a second time. (4-2)
Of course, this is Arsenal at Anfield. We rarely maintain a lead. Out of nothing, Oxlade-Chamberlain, booed all night by the travelling Gooners, found the top corner with a rasping effort. He celebrated by biting his lip and sticking his chest out. Anfield roared again. (4-3)
There was barely time to catch our breath before Liverpool bagged an equaliser. Origi spun on the edge of the box and hammered into the top corner. Should Martinez have done better? Maybe. (4-4)
Amazingly, Emery sacrificed Ozil, who was running the show for us, to bring on Guendouzi. The German took it on the chin. Back we came. Martinelli spurned another chance to complete his hat-trick as he hit Bellerin’s cross over. Then on 70 minutes Willock took centre stage. Picking the ball up in the centre circle, he charged forward and unleashed an unbelievable effort from 30-yards into the top corner. It was a carbon copy of Patrick Vieira’s rasping strike against Newcastle all those years ago. (5-4)
Could Liverpool find one final equaliser to take the game to penalties? Into the final five minutes and we looked relatively comfortable, but we did start to sit deeper and deeper and eventually it came. It’s us. It’s Liverpool at home. Nobody should have been surprised. Three minutes into stoppage time, Origi acrobatically connected with a cross to level yet again. Ridiculous. (5-5)
The game went to penalties. Because that’s exactly what you need after 10 goals in 90 minutes. In front of the Kop, Hector went first. Goal. Milner went next. Goal. Guendouzi up. In off the post. Lallana. Top left. Martinelli. No doubt. Goal. Brewster. Goal. Ceballos. He’s going to miss, I can tell. Kelleher goes right and saves. Origi. Goal. Maitland-Niles. To keep us in the game. Goal. Curtis Jones. To win it. In off the post. Liverpool win.