Liverpool have qualified for the final of the Carabao Cup where they will face Chelsea after defeating Arsenal in the second leg of the tie 0-2 following the barren draw at Anfield in the first leg about a week ago.
Diogo Jota scored on either side of each half to book a date with Chelsea on the 27th of February in the final.
Having had their Premier League game with Tottenham over the weekend postponed, Mikel Arteta was able to name a strong squad despite still missing Granit Xhaka. Takehiro Tomiyasu and Emile Smith Rowe had recovered for places in the stating lineup while Thomas Partey who has just crashed out of the AFCON with Ghana was only able to start from the bench after arriving back in London just at midday.
There was no much change to the Liverpool side with just a couple. Jurgen Klopp giving the nod to 23-year old Irish goalkeeper, Caoimhin Kelleher in place of Alisson Beckr and young striker Kaide Gordon staring alongside Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota.
Arsenal unsettled their visitors in the early stages and went close to taking the lead when Alexandre Lacazette clipped the edge of the post from a free kick that was parried by the fingertips of Kelleher after Robertson brought down Bukayo Saka on the edge of the box.
Liverpool, however, sounded their warning strike of how clinical they can be even with few chances when Joel Matip was on hand at the far post to tap in a header from Fabinho from a corner kick. The goal was rightly ruled out for offside, but it only showed the threat the Reds possess from setpieces.
That disallowed goal looked to be the tonic that Liverpool needed as they took the lead six minutes later in the 19th minute when Trent Alexander Arnold freed Diogo Jota on the left. The Portuguese drove inwards and made his way, seemingly too easy past Takehiro Tomiyasu and Ben White before firing a scuffed shot that beat Aaron Ramsdale, whose view was blocked by his defence and he could only react late.
Arsenal produced a little burst of energy to get their fans back who had been silenced by the Liverpool goal and also had a futile shout for penalty turned down after Gabriel Martinelli went down under a challenge from Fabinho, who replays show won the ball cleanly.
Arsenal came into the second half looking to fight back and were almost succeeding when Albert Sambi Lokonga lobbed a fine pass splitting the Liverpool defence open to find Lacazette. The French striker seemed to have tarried a bit allowing Andy Robertson to close him down as he fired his effort over the bar with just the goalkeeper to beat.
17-year old Kaide Gordon should have doubled the lead when he was left unmarked on the penalty spot and received a cutback from Jota, who had worked the ball finely on the left to get to the byline, but the youngster rocketed the ball into the stands.
The visitors came close again from another set piece as Ibrahima Konate powerfully headed a corner kick that beat Ramsdale, but not the post.
The hosts' next best scoring opportunity came in the 72nd minute when Martinelli won his battle with Alexander Arnold on the left and his cross cum shot flew towards the top corner at the near post. Kelleher was alert to sight the danger and punch over the bar.
Five minutes later, the game was over for Arsenal ad Alexander Arnold again in the thick of things found Jota in the middle with a well-timed lofted pass, which the former Wolves man controlled with his chest, before dinking it over the on-rushing Ramsdale. The flag went up for offside initially, but VAR review showed that he was played onside by Gabriel Maghaeles.
Thomas Partey, who was a late arrival to make the team and came on as a substitute was dismissed in the closing stages after he received two yellow cards in quick succession for clumsy challenges on Neco Williams and Fabinho.
I think it was a good outing nonetheless the result for Arsenal. What I believe they lack is that spirit to dig in after initially fighting hard. We saw this same output against Manchester City, where they fought well and were the better side for a better part of the first half, but lost confidence and composure after conceding. This is something that they need to work on.
Perhaps, Arteta would think that he shouldn't have played Thomas Partey at all as the Ghana international will now be out of their weekend clash against Burnley, with the Gunners already missing Granit Xhaka, leaving only Sambi Lokonga in that position; whom I don't think has grown to shoulder such responsibilities yet. Partey looked tired after the long journey.
These are the times that Arsenal need the senior and experienced players to come to the fore to help the younger ones. They certainly cannot keep relying only on the talents of these young players. Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe for the first time in a long while looked somehow out of sort. Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard were arguably their best players on the night. Lacazette was also not so involved. He looked a bit isolated from his attacking mates.
The first shot at a domestic trophy for Jurgen Klopp, who in all honesty deserves it with the attitude he has been able to build in his team.
Not many would have expected Diogo Jota to be such a marquee signing for Liverpool when he joined from Wolves, but the Portuguese has continued to churn our consistent performances, deservedly named Man of the Match.
The way he dribbled past the Arsenal defence for his first goal, when he also created that chance for Kaide Gordon and the composure to finish the second was commendable. Salah can afford to go all the way with Egypt, the Kops have gotten Jota.