Football Features

Liverpool 5-5 Arsenal: The good, the bad and the ugly as Reds win League Cup thriller on penalties

By Harry Edwards

Published: 22:05, 30 October 2019

Football fans were treated to a goalfest at Anfield on Wednesday night as Liverpool drew 5-5 with Arsenal in the Carabao Cup.

Liverpool eventually went on to reach the quarter-finals, edging out a penalty shootout that actually saw fewer goals scored than in normal time.

But while the game was a joy to watch, it wasn’t perfect, with both sides putting their strengths and weaknesses on display.

The good

Let’s start with the positives, of which there were quite a few.

Gabriel Martinelli

In a much-changed XI, Gabriel Martinelli was handed his fourth start of the season for Arsenal, all of which have come in cup competitions. In the previous three starts, the Brazilian teenager had scored five goals and, despite the opposition, Martinelli ensured he continued his scoring run at Anfield.

His first gave Arsenal the lead in the 26th minute, beating Sepp van den Berg at the far post to rifle the ball into the roof of the net. Ten minutes later he got his second and Arsenal’s third, tapping home from 10 yards to cap off a good Arsenal break. Although neither of the goals were difficult, the Brazilian showed good awareness to get into the goalscoring positions, showing Arsenal that there will be life at the club should Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette leave.

Mesut Ozil

Martinelli was joined in having a good game by Mesut Ozil, who was handed just his third start of the season. The former German international has been frozen out by Unai Emery this season, much to the frustration of Arsenal fans.

But he reminded them what he is capable of with a neat backheeled assist for Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ goal, when the ball looked as if it was going out of play for a goal kick – one of two chances the 31-year-old created at Anfield.

Wonder goals

And then there were the goals. You’ll be hard pushed to find a game with so many Goal of the Season contenders, with both sides getting in on the act. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came in with the first effort, striking the ball past Emiliano Martinez from 25 yards with ferocity. Divock Origi obviously took inspiration from his teammate, drawing Liverpool level with a powerful effort from just outside the area, having beat Shkodran Mustafi with a Cruyff Turn.

Joe Willock looked to have won the match with the pick of the bunch as he unleashed a right-footed effort into the top left corner after picking the ball up just inside the Liverpool half. But it was once again cancelled out by Origi’s acrobatic effort in injury time.

The bad

Although the game was a thrill to watch, for those who analyse the game there were a lot of negatives to look at.

Liverpool’s squad depth

Possibly the biggest was Liverpool’s part in the goals they conceded. Jurgen Klopp’s side have been almost unstoppable in the Premier League, winning nine and drawing one of their opening 10 games to sit six points clear at the top of the table.

But the biggest worry about the Reds is their squad depth and the lack of quality outside of their starting XI. And that was on full display on Wednesday night, with Klopp making 11 changes from the team that beat Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend.

For at least four of Arsenal’s five goals at Anfield, fingers could be pointed at Liverpool mistakes, with the Reds being too sloppy with their passing in midfield at times. The biggest culprits were Harvey Elliot and James Milner, who misplaced passes right to Arsenal players in the build up to Arsenal’s third and fourth goals, the latter of whom is usually reliable for Klopp.

Naby Keita

One of the Liverpool changes from the team that beat Tottenham was the arrival of Naby Keita in midfield, with the Guinean international slowly returning from injury.

But it was an evening to forget for Keita, as he struggled to have an influence on the Liverpool side before being taken off just under an hour in. At times, you could be forgiven for not realising the 24-year-old was on the Anfield pitch, with the younger players on either side overshadowing his performance.

Emery’s substitution

It wasn’t just Liverpool providing the negatives, however. Having handed Ozil a rare start, Emery watched on as the midfielder made a telling contribution to the match, setting up Maitland-Niles.

But, with the game tied at 4-4 midway through the second half, Emery decided he had seen enough of the former German international, bringing him off for Matteo Guendouzi. Now, Guendouzi is a wonderful player and will always give everything he can for Arsenal. But if the Gunners were serious about reaching the quarter-finals, surely it would have been better for them to keep Ozil on?

The ugly

There were, positives, there were negatives, and then there were things so bad they needed their own category.

Defending

The ugliness started pretty early on when Shkodran Mustafi put the ball into his own net when trying to clear Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross. It was the German’s five appearance of the season, all of which have come in cup competitions, and it’s not hard to see why with such a big error so early on.

Fortunately for Mustafi, he was not alone in forgetting how to defend, with both Liverpool and Arsenal’s back lines joining him.

And although Caoimhin Kelleher proved to be the hero in the penalty shootout, saving from Dani Ceballos, neither he nor Arsenal goalkeeper Martinez covered themselves in glory at Anfield.

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