Mikel Arteta ‘really proud’ as 10-man Arsenal hold out against Liverpool

The Gunners survived Granit Xhaka’s early dismissal to draw 0-0 in their Carabao Cup semi-final first leg

Carl Markham
Thursday 13 January 2022 23:08
Comments

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta praised the defensive effort which earned his side a goalless draw against Liverpool in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final – but fears it may have put Sunday’s north London derby in doubt.

After Granit Xhaka’s second red card in just 13 appearances this season the Gunners were forced to play for 71 minutes with 10 men at Anfield but their organised 5-3-1 formation was enough to comfortably keep their opponents at bay.

But with Xhaka now suspended, Cedric Soares and Bukayo Saka injury doubts after limping off, four other players injured or out with Covid and four at the African Nations Cup, Arteta could be without 11 players for the trip to Tottenham.

“I am really proud of the what the boys did today, in a difficult stadium against a great opponent and playing 70 minutes with 10 men,” he said. “It was about the fight, the spirit and commitment and quality to play the game.

“When you come to a stadium like this you have to pick players who are happy to go to war because you are going to have to fight, you are going to have difficult moments to suffer.

“You are willing to accept you are are not going to play the game you want.

“When you play with that spirit and fight and brotherhood around the team you get rewarded and I think that is what happened.”

But on how the knock-on effects may impact this weekend’s Premier League match the Spaniard added: “I don’t know.

“It is a possibility in every game, from our side, from the opponents’ side, because of the amount of issues everyone is having and because it is happening every week.

“We try to prepare games thinking we are going to play. If something happens along the way, it is what it is.”

Liverpool’s problem is how to find a way of replacing the goals usually provided by Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, who are both at the African Nations Cup.

Jurgen Klopp’s side were restricted to just one shot on target – in added time – from 17 attempts.

In the 263 minutes of six matches this season Liverpool have played against 10 men they have scored only three times, two of which were penalties.

“It looked like we were under pressure. That makes no sense but that is human,” Klopp said.

Takumi Minamino, centre, missed Liverpool’s best chance late on (Peter Byrne/PA)

“You go out there for winning. It’s difficult against a well-drilled formation. We didn’t create enough, we didn’t do lots of things good enough.

“Then it was a red card and playing against the low block and it is difficult. On top of that we made a few wrong decisions.

“But in the end it’s 0-0, half-time, let’s go.”

On his absent star forwards, Klopp added: “There isn’t one team who wouldn’t miss Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Naby Keita.

“We’ve known that for years it could happen. Could we be better prepared for it? I don’t think so.

“What they had tonight was a football problem and this team can solve that football problem, definitely.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in