Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes a red card for Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka has a negative impact on his team, as they drew 0-0 in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final at Anfield.
haka’s second red card in just 13 appearances this season handed Liverpool the numerical advantage for 71 minutes of this tie but they had been well below their best before that and they struggled even more against an organised 5-3-1 formation.
Arsenal actually performed better with a man less and Bukayo Saka’s thrusting runs down the right ensured their hosts always had to be aware of his threat.
The England midfielder also forced the best save of the night from Alisson Becker – remarkably making his League Cup debut after three-and-a-half-years – midway through the second half.
Liverpool had 78 per cent possession but only managed to force Aaron Ramsdale into one save – in added time – from the 17 attempts they had.
Jurgen Klopp had wanted a one-off game and that is effectively what he has now got, although following last week’s postponement of the original first leg in London because of Liverpool’s Covid outbreak the advantage is now with Mikel Arteta’s side.
“We would’ve preferred to have scored the goal instead of them getting a red card,” declared Klopp. “From that moment it looks like we are under pressure and we had to change the line-up for obvious reasons.
“In the second half we made a few changes, I thought it looked better and we had clear situations but it was not good enough.
“But it’s a two-legged game and it’s half time. I can’t remember when it was 0-0 at half time, wherever I’ve been, and I thought ‘we have no chance’. We will give it a proper go.”
Arsenal bounced back from a miserable performance as they went out of the FA Cup at Nottingham Forest on Sunday, with Arteta hailing the spirit in his team that was sadly lacking in their previous match.
“The players showed great fight, determination, brotherhood. You saw the emotion, we never gave up. Credit to the boys,” said the Spaniard.
“I don’t know if the red card inspired them but it took the fight. You need a certain attitude to play in these games and the boys did that. We played the game we had to play, which is not our game. I have not seen it back, they checked it so probably a red card.
“To plan with the numbers we have, we don’t have any midfielders, becomes really complicated, because whatever we do is not natural.
“The extra motivation to play a derby [at Tottenham on Sunday] brings the energy when you don’t have it. No excuses, we have to play it.”