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Liverpool the latest rivals to land bruising blow on wasteful Arsenal

Liverpool celebrate Luis Diaz's late, decisive goal

The importance of this win for Liverpool may not be felt until May. Not necessarily in the FA Cup but in the context of a tautly contested Premier League title race when every set-back or advantage, and whatever the context, feels extremely significant.

For the second season in a row Arsenal have gone out of this competition to what was, at the time, one of their closest rivals. Manchester City knocked them out in the fourth round of that campaign and went on to become champions as well as FA Cup winners. This year, Liverpool, their nearest title challengers as things stand, were their conquerors.

It will lead to angst and soul-searching at Arsenal as to the wastefulness and wafer-thin belief of their attack – with Kai Havertz a husk of a centre-forward as he spurned chance after chance – and while Liverpool were hardly deadly, they are in the hat.

Havertz really cannot play as the focal point. He has all the attributes in his build-up play but none of the instincts to actually score. And, well, that is pretty crucial. He takes touch after touch and the space that a striker would seize upon evaporates in front of him. Havertz had six shots and did not look like scoring, or believing he could score, from any of them.

That it took an own goal to break the deadlock, with Jakub Kiwior heading Trent Alexander-Arnold’s dangerously whipped free-kick into his own net, summed up how misfiring both sides were.

But in injury-time Luis Diaz confirmed the result with Liverpool breaking and Diogo Jota, again effective off the bench, rolling the ball to him across the penalty area to powerfully beat Aaron Ramsdale.

It was the last kick with a murmuring of boos from the Arsenal fans at the final whistle, presumably aimed at referee John Brooks. Not that the official was at fault.

Instead it captured the enveloping frustration and means that Arsenal’s chances of winning a trophy lie in the league and the Champions League. Once more they are out of the domestic cups and it feels like a missed opportunity because they were at home and because – significantly - they had the chance to deliver a blow to Liverpool and assert themselves over a rival.

Arsenal were undoubtedly the chief culprits of the profligacy but Liverpool were hardly deadly as they missed opportunities and twice struck the goal-frame.

Even so Liverpool prevailed and showed huge amounts of admirable resilience after the danger of being overwhelmed in the opening few minutes as Arsenal had five clear attempts on goal in just 12 minutes, with their captain Martin Odegaard hitting the crossbar.

Liverpool did it without Mohamed Salah and the surprisingly influential Wataro Endo – both on international duty - and with captain Virgil van Dijk absent through illness. With Van Dijk, Ibrahima Konate excelled and it was Alexander-Arnold who wore the armband. He was simply outstanding as Arsenal were consigned to a run of one win in seven matches in all competitions.

If the last thing either side wanted was a replay and even if Mikel Arteta will be privately relieved at not having another game added to the crowded schedule, the Arsenal manager will have to reflect on the psychological damage this has caused to his team especially during their current concerning run.

Martin Odegaard of Arsenal during the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Arsenal and Liverpool at Emirates Stadium on January 07, 2024 in London, England
Martin Odegaard was one of several Arsenal players guilty of profligacy in front of goal - Getty Images/Stuart MacFarlane

There was greater mitigation in the cup loss away to City last January when Arteta rotated his line-up, changing five of his team’s outfield players, even if that felt like a mistake. This time there was just two changes, while Liverpool finished with youngsters Bobby Clark (18) – the son of former Newcastle United midfielder Lee Clark – and Conor Bradley (20) on the pitch.

It was therefore made all the more satisfying for Jurgen Klopp that he won while missing several key players and having withdrawn a wealth of experience to rotate. Put simply his substitutions and positional changes worked – Arteta’s did not.

Whatever the circumstances, a run of six straight victories for Arsenal has now been followed by a lone win over Brighton in their last seven games in all competitions and that feels like a crisis of confidence, at least.

There was the dead rubber of a Champions League draw away to PSV Eindhoven but Arsenal have lost to Villa, West Ham, Fulham and Liverpool and scored just one goal in that painful quartet of fixtures as they have slipped from the top of the league to fourth. It means Arsenal have lost seven games this season so far and, to put that in context, they had lost just twice at this stage of the campaign last year.

Furthermore, in their last nine meetings with either City or Liverpool, dating back to the start of 2023, Arsenal have won just twice, losing four and drawing on three occasions. It is hardly a disastrous record but it is certainly not an impressive one either and maybe again suggests an enduring lack of belief. Or quality. Or both. Either way it needs to change as, certainly, Arsenal do not receive the return they should on their apparent dominance.

Intriguingly both sides will reconvene at this stadium in less than a month’s time and perhaps then we will be able to fully assess the repercussions of this result and performance. Arsenal do not play again until Jan 20. They have been given plenty to reflect upon.


Arsenal vs Liverpool: As it happened


07:10 PM GMT

Arsenal are out

And they will be kicking themselves, because they had multiple opportunities to put Liverpool away in the first half. But they didn’t, Klopp changed it up, and Liverpool were the better side in the second half. Arsenal badly need a goalscorer.


07:00 PM GMT

Here is Jurgen Klopp talking to the BBC

“I’m super proud. It’s a super difficult draw. Maybe the most difficult we could have got. With all the things we had to consider coming here, Arsenal lined up slightly different, that was smart. We changed a bit at half-time. We were really in the game in the second half. We scored the goals and brought the kids on. We fought for 95 minutes. We have a winter break now.”


06:40 PM GMT

Alan Shearer on Arsenal

“Superb press. Finishing dreadful.”


06:38 PM GMT

Konate is named player of the match

He tells the BBC. “Today the man of the match was the whole team. Yes Arsenal had some chances in the first half. It is hard to play a lot of games but we love it. And everyone gets a chance to play.”


06:36 PM GMT

Some stats

Arsenal had 18 shots but only hit the target with 5.


06:29 PM GMT

Trent AA to the BBC

“Huge win, lot of injuries, great to win. Dug deep. Changed things around at HT.

“We were a bit naive in the first half, they had chances from our sloppy mistakes. They are a high pressing team. We wanted to play to our strengths and identity.”

“We mixed it up, Cody went down the centre and we were able to use our pace down the sides.”

“With the in swinger you want to hit it as well as possible,” he said of his delivery for the OG. “You want to make it as hard as possible for them to clear”


06:25 PM GMT

Full time: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 2

Brilliant matchplay from Liverpool. They hung in there, they rode their luck in the first half. Second half, Liverpool were the better side and a key switch from manager Klopp, moving Diaz to the right, Nunez to the left, Gakpo down the middle at half time.

Liverpool were poor in the first half but, as Danny Murphy says: “Jurgen obviously gave them a kick up the backside at half time.” And they ultiimately deserved it.


06:24 PM GMT

GOAL! Arsenal 0 Liverpool 2 (Diaz 90+4)

Liverpool break, Luis Diaz has it down the inside right channel. Diaz shows the Goons how it is done: no overelaborating here. He takes a touch and he wellies it into the net. Nicely done, and that’s that.


06:23 PM GMT

90+ mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 1

Arsenal hit it long but it is Liverpool who emerge with it....


06:21 PM GMT

90+ mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 1

Bradley heads it behind for a corner, well defended. Great keeping from Alisson to gather it.


06:19 PM GMT

90 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 1

Nunez runs back and leaps, heading it wide. Rubbs freekick turned into something dangerous by the Liverpool player.


06:18 PM GMT

88 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 1

Gravenberch has hacked down Odegaard outside the box. The player himself will take the free.


06:17 PM GMT

86 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 1

The luckless Kiwior comes off, Havertz too. Trossard and Smith Rowe come on. Liverpool are ferocious in defence, snapping at everything.


06:13 PM GMT

83 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 1

But not much comes of the freekick.


06:12 PM GMT

82 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 1

Saka comes forward and is fouled by Nunez.


06:10 PM GMT

GOAL! Arsenal 0 Liverpool 1 (Kiwior OG 79)

Trent whips it in with a wonderful ball, Kiwior and his goalie both leap and go for it, but the luckless Arsenal defendrr has nodded it past the keeper!


06:08 PM GMT

79 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Gravenberch and Odegaard battling hard, the former wins a foul.

Liverpool the side asking the more questions at the moment. And they have a freekick down the left...


06:07 PM GMT

78 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Corner comes in! jota hits the bar and the rebound drops to Nunez, whose stabbed shot is well wide. Of course it is.


06:06 PM GMT

76 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Liverpool break, and get the break of the ball. Diaz smuggles it through and produces an excellent shot, this is an excellent stop from Ransdale.


06:01 PM GMT

72 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Saka the latest player to hoof a shot well wide from a decent position.


06:00 PM GMT

70 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Elliott into the book for fouling Jorginho and then running his yap to the ref about it.


05:59 PM GMT

69 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Liverpool with an excellent break opportunity but Nunez fails to pick out Diaz. Argh.

“I don’t think that was a difficult pass,” says Shearer. “There has been a lack of quality in the final third today.”


05:57 PM GMT

67 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Martinelli, on as a sub, takes on Trent and beats him. Konate saves the day.

And a nearly identical sitch a minute later when Martinelli beats the same man with a nutmeg, and Konate again steps in!


05:56 PM GMT

66 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Sam Dean: “Neither team wants a replay, and you can tell. The game is becoming increasingly open. Great entertainment.”


05:54 PM GMT

65 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Saliba gets the game’s first yellow but hauling back Jota.


05:49 PM GMT

60 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Again Arsenal come! Again they cannot quite find a finish. A deflected shot from Haveryz, Saka cannot apply the key touch.


05:48 PM GMT

59 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Gakpo and Mac Allister are coming off. Jota and Gravenberch come on.


05:46 PM GMT

58 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Game pulsating now. Odegaard has a freekick after a foul by Mac Allister.

Odegaard slips it down the side from Havertz, he chips it into the box but Saka cannot get his body in the right place with the high ball.


05:45 PM GMT

54 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Arsenal have a freekick, drilled in flat cleared. Odegaarrd tries to keep things going but is fouled.

It’s exciting stuff at the moment, both sides attacking, swinging at each other.


05:39 PM GMT

48 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Gomez having a busy time - he’s now bombed forward and shot not far over.


05:38 PM GMT

47 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Wonderful won from Saka and a great defensive run and cover by Gomez too.


05:34 PM GMT

46 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Alan Shearer: “both teams will not want the replay.” Guy Mowbray: “that would be the winter break kyboshed.”


05:33 PM GMT

The players are out

and ready for the second half.


05:18 PM GMT

Half time: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Arsenal should have had several. Both sides have hit the bar. But it’s the home side who have done the great majority of the attacking: wonderful approach play and pressing but always needing just a second too long, one touch too many. Wrighty nails it:

Martin Keown: “Arsenal’s press has been aggressive but they need to shoot with aggressivetivity.” Oooo-kay.


05:18 PM GMT

45+ mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Havertz is barged to the ground by Gakpo. Arsenal deliver the freekick but that’s repelled.


05:15 PM GMT

45 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

But Liverpool surge forward now and Trent picks it up in the inside right spot, lashes a shot at goal and it rattles the crossbar.


05:14 PM GMT

44 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Havertz again in a great spot thanks to Arsenal’s brilliant pressing forcing an error but YET again he wants an absolute age to take his shot. That boy is maddening.


05:12 PM GMT

41 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Gomez trips Odegaard. Saka to deliver the freekick. Blooters it over sorry to say.


05:09 PM GMT

38 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Havertz heads wide from a corner.


05:08 PM GMT

37 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Another well worked move, but this also ends with a so-so shot. Ben White. Struck it well enough but not troubling the keeper.


05:08 PM GMT

36 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Arsenal with plenty of the ball but looking a bit ponderous. Eventually a long worked om move ends with Rice shooting at the keeper from miles out.


05:03 PM GMT

32 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Jones with some lovely skill and White responds by pushing him over.


05:00 PM GMT

29 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Arsenal’s pressing forces and opening. Odeagaard slips it to Havertz but he needs far too much time and is closed down.


04:57 PM GMT

26 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Lovely play from Arsenal, lots of excellent movement at pace, an it ends with a weak shot from Saka.


04:53 PM GMT

25 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Nelson goes past Trent but then falls over in the area. No pen.


04:52 PM GMT

22 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Nunez rises splendidly at the corner but nods it wide.


04:52 PM GMT

21 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Great first touch from Trent, then frees Nunez, who makes a more than decent run and cross but... nobody’s there. Nevertheless, Ben White puts it behind for a corner.


04:49 PM GMT

19 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

For the last couple of minutes, Arsenal have been playing the ball around between themselves about 30 yards from their own goal.


04:47 PM GMT

15 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Got their number?

Game has quietened down after a hot start. Here is Sam Dean: “Thrilling start by Arsenal but, not for the first time in recent weeks, they have failed to convert their early dominance into goals. They should be two or three up.”


04:42 PM GMT

11 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Liverpool with some awful defending at the back, Arsenal pinch it... laid back for Odegaard who has the whole goal to aim at. But he manages only to rattle the crossbar. Arsenal should had scored from the rebound as well.

Alan Shearer: “11 minutes and Arsenal should have three or four by now.”


04:38 PM GMT

8 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Arsenal have a corner. Goalmouth scramble, The ball is half cleared and drilled back in by Havertz, drawing a save. The home side are well on top.


04:36 PM GMT

6 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Here’s Sam Dean: “Kai Havertz starts up top for Arsenal today, for the first time since the Community Shield in August. He was signed primarily to play in midfield but today will have a chance to demonstrate his versatility, in the absence of Gabriel Jesus.”

Odegaard surges forward, it opens up for him, but rather than shooting he elects to come back inside and the moment, over-elaborated, has gone.


04:34 PM GMT

4 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Exciting start, now Liverpool charging forward and winning a freekick.


04:33 PM GMT

3 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Arsenal with a great early chance. Ramsdale with the long ball, Nelson gets onto it... he rounds the keeper but fires into the side netting. Just took a heavy touch.


04:32 PM GMT

1 mins: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Liverpool pressing merrily and it’s Arsenal who have most of the early ball, but not in a situation where they can do much with it.


04:31 PM GMT

Liverpool

meanwhile are wearing something called Space Purple.


04:30 PM GMT

The players are out

Arsenal are in an all-white strip, with numbers on the match in... white.


04:29 PM GMT

Here is Jason Burt

“Both teams have rotated but both have also gone pretty strong. Feels like the importance of this tie goes beyond the FA Cup given the context of the Premier League title race. Defeat for either Arsenal or Liverpool would likely be a psychological blow. In saying that it appears to be of greater significance to Arsenal given they are at home and given their faltering momentum while Liverpool have a League Cup semi-final against Fulham to look forward to on Wednesday.”


04:10 PM GMT

Talking of Klopp

he is talking to BBC.

“We are not thinking about the schedule, getting through it. This is a dream draw, fantastic.

“Van Dijk is ill. We have been kind of lucky in the last few weeks in that a lot of staff have had a virus not the players.. But now....

“Harvey has been playing fantastic for us. We need him on the ball, he is not consistently offering runs in behind, we need to play to his skills. He is the last one who wants to play without Mo because they have a good relationship.”


04:08 PM GMT

Liverpool's record in the FA Cup

under Klopp has been awful. They won it in 22 but have been regularly dumped out at the fourth round.


04:07 PM GMT

BBC1

is covering this one, Martin Keown on pundit detail. He’s being shown a clip of himself being sent off in this fixture. Never a foul reckons Martin.


04:04 PM GMT

With Mo Salah off to the ACN

the Liverpool boys left behind have a challenge and an opportunity. Can they replace their Egyptian magician?


04:03 PM GMT

The recall of Ramsdale

seems to establish him as a Cup keeper, he’s only played once in then Premier League since September.


03:52 PM GMT

Klopp in the house

Jurgen Klopp arrives at the Emirates for the match against Arsenal
Jurgen Klopp arrives at the Emirates for the match against Arsenal - John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

03:44 PM GMT

This one

as a reader in the comment section of it says: “it would take a heart of stone not to laugh.”

Jordan Henderson wants out of Saudi Arabia – but returning home could cost millions


03:40 PM GMT

The stadium

The Emirates awaits Arsenal vs Liverpool
The Emirates awaits Arsenal vs Liverpool - Getty

03:37 PM GMT

The Absolute Boy

himself explains what that’s about.


03:35 PM GMT

No more red

No more red billboard
No more red billboard

03:31 PM GMT

Team news

Arsenal: Ramsdale, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Kiwior, Rice, Jorginho, Odegaard, Saka, Nelson, Havertz. Subs: Smith Rowe, Martinelli, Nketiah, Cedric, Trossard, Raya, Nwaneri, Sousa, Walters.

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Quansah, Konate, Gomez, Elliott, Mac Allister, Jones, Gakpo, Nunez, Diaz. Subs: Jota, Gravenberch, Clark, Chambers, Gordon, McConnell, Kelleher, Bradley, Nyoni.

Referee: John Brooks (Leicestershire)


03:25 PM GMT

Having a bet?

Having a bet on today’s match? First take a look at these free bets and betting offers.


03:22 PM GMT

Sam Dean on what it means for Gunners

Our Arsenal expert Sam Dean raises an interesting angle in this article: Arsenal must avoid psychological FA Cup blow to Liverpool that could derail title hopes.


03:17 PM GMT

FA Cup incoming

Good afternoon and welcome to our live blog of Arsenal vs Liverpool in the FA Cup. Beyond question this is the tie of the round, and a chance for two well-liked, brilliant managers to make a step towards some silverware that both could perhaps do with, if Man City do again start to fire 100% in the League. Is the FA Cup a distraction from the real business, or is it a major prize in itself? One senses that City’s dominance of the League, perhaps, sharpens focus on the FA Cup for the chasing pack...

Kick off is at 4.30pm and the match is on BBC1, we will have team news at about half three.

When asked if the Football Association should consider pulling the plug on replays, Arteta, whose side will also contest a rejigged Champions League next season if they finish in the top four, said: “I think so. We will see what happens because with the new format of the Champions League, there will be more games (to play) so I don’t know how we are going to fit them in.

“The (mini) break will be minimal and we have plans for both scenarios. We want to win the game and we will try to win the game, but that (cancelling replays) has to be considered.”

With just one win from their last five outings, Arsenal have it all to do this afternoon against the in-form Reds.

None of Arsenal’s frontline have managed to break into double figures for the season so far with Bukayo Saka leading the way on nine.

“What they (the forwards) did last year was exceptional and we knew that to maintain those numbers would be extremely difficult because it was a one-off,” added Arteta.

“Not just for us, a one-off in the league. We know that we need all the resources and all those kinds of goals to maintain the level that we want in the league.

“When it comes to those spaces, the timing and the definition of the action (in front of goal) that becomes trickier to coach and certainly to replicate as an action in the game.

“It’s very tricky but it’s something that we have to improve, especially in the way we have not transformed recent chances into goals.”

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