Mikel Arteta was full of praise for the players who stayed on the pitch as Arsenal came away from Anfield with a 0-0 draw in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg.
Reduced to 10 men after 24 minutes when Granit Xhaka was sent off for a foul on Divejogo Jota, the Gunners game-plan was in disarray, but a super rearguard effort kept the Mugsmashers at bay, and the draw was no less than we deserved.
Speaking about how it impacted his preparations, Arteta said, “I’m extremely proud of what the boys did today in an extremely difficult stadium against a great opponent, and playing 70 minutes with 10 men.
“It was about fight, spirit, commitment and as well the quality that they showed to play a game that is not in our strength and not in what we trained, but it was necessary to win.
“I want to see a team that plays with emotion and transmits everything that we talked about every day and I’ve seen that today, so I’m very happy.”
And on the battle you face when you go Anfield anyway, he continued, “I said to them, you have to pick players that you are happy to go to war because you’re gonna have a fight, you’re gonna have difficult moments, you’re gonna have moments where you have to suffer and it’s about how to approach those moments.
“If you are willing to help your team, if you are willing to accept that at some moments you are not going to play the game that you want and then good things are going to happen, so when you play with that spirit and fight and brotherhood around the team, at the end, you get rewarded and I think that’s what happened today.”
The defensive effort was incredible, Liverpool ended a game at home with just one shot on target despite playing for 70 minutes against 10 men, and the Arsenal players deserve huge credit for that.
How much that will cost us ahead of the derby on Sunday remains to be seen, but let’s enjoy it for what it is this morning.