How Liverpool must be fed up with the sight of Arsenal. Once again – for the third time since July, no less – a limited force full of little but resilience and organization dug deep to scrape the result they wanted to achieve against Jürgen Klopp’s team.
The sequel is rarely better than the original.
Liverpool lose to Arsenal in Anfield on penalties and leave the Carabao Cup after a 0-0 draw.
Liverpool participated in the competition for just one week before their elimination was confirmed. But while Klopp has already lost a cup, he will lose little sleep on Thursday night when the frustration has died down to his home in Merseyside.
And while last year’s crazy 5-5 draw ended successfully with a penalty shoot-out before a loud – and full – Kop end, this time it was Arsenal who fought their way to the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup in a death-defying Anfield.
After Monday’s high-octane, pulsating 3-1 win, the Reds had to fight their way to a penalty shootout after the two teams had played out a boring draw just for the TV cameras.
Klopp made nine changes for the game as he regrouped his pack before the Sunday trip to Aston Villa in the Premier League.
And on the day of the Champions League draw, when the six-time Group D winner will face off against Ajax, Atalanta and Midtjylland FC, the focus will soon be back on the biggest prizes at stake for the Reds.
Wilson’s inclusion came at the expense of Xherdan Shaqiri, whose days in Liverpool are numbered after the interest of two clubs.
These included a first full start for both Diogo Jota and Harry Wilson, which was a surprise given the interest shown in him from Burnley.
The new man got off to an excellent start with his first goal for the Reds on Monday, and in his first start since the £45 million switch from Wolves, he was a bundle of activity that harried and bullied Arsenal throughout.
For Wilson, who made his full Liverpool debut after a series of loans outside the club, this was a great opportunity to show his manager that he belongs here for the long term.
No wonder Pep Lijnders calls him a “press machine”.
A bid from Burnley may suggest that this is not the case, but it will be interesting to see what happens to the Wales winger before the transfer deadline is over.
Despite Klopp’s protests in the run-up to the game, the Carabao Cup was without shame the lowest priority for Liverpool and there will be few investigations to prevent this fall from the game.
Last year’s ride to the Quarter provided a welcome respite from the stress and strain of this Premier League title claim, but not before this year had begun was it over. Hopes for the glory of the EFL Cup were put on ice for another season.
However, one aspect that will be significant for some within the squad is that their hopes of a certain amount of time in the first team have probably been dealt a lethal blow.