Mikel Arteta praised his Arsenal players as they showed “fight” to hang on to draw versus Liverpool in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final.
Arteta would have been keen to get a response from his side against Liverpool. This was their first game since Nottm Forest knocked them out of the FA Cup.
Granit Xhaka returned to the starting eleven on Thursday evening, while Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette were also involved.
Liverpool find nothing ‘soft’ about brilliant Arsenal
Liverpool were the better of the two sides early on. They were also boosted by Xhaka being sent off in the 24th minute.
The midfielder was shown a straight red card for a high boot on Diogo Jota just outside the penalty area.
Arsenal could have easily capitulated but they held firm as they frustrated Liverpool. They created chances of their own as Saka came close to scoring.
It is still all to play for heading into the second leg as the rivals ended up drawing 0-0 at Anfield.
Arsenal welcome Liverpool in the return leg on January 20. As quoted by BBC Sport, Arteta said post-match that his players “never gave up”:
“We revel against the situation. The players showed great fight, determination, brotherhood. You saw the emotion, we never gave up. Credit to the boys.
“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.”
Ben White added that Arsenal were “absolutely superb” against Liverpool:
“It was not an ideal start but there is so much fight in this team. It’s hard enough coming here with eleven men, absolutely superb from everyone.
“You have to concentrate the whole game and the result is well deserved. It’s nice to defend like that as a defender. We were confident coming here and will give our all in the next game.”