Report as Liverpool secured a 2-0 win at Arsenal in the FA Cup; Gunners struggles in front of goal continue as host of good chances go begging; Jakub Kiwior’s own goal (80) and Luis Diaz’s injury-time strike (90+5) seal victory; Jurgen Klopp’s side into fourth-round draw on Monday evening.
Arsenal were punished for a host of missed chances as Jakub Kiwior’s own goal and Luis Diaz’s late strike sent Liverpool into the fourth round of the FA Cup with a 2-0 win
Mikel Arteta’s side finished 2023 with back-to-back Premier League defeats and they started brightly as they looked to respond with a first win of 2024. However, their well-documented struggles in front of goal continued as chance after chance went begging against Liverpool.
Martin Odegaard’s shot rattled the crossbar, while Reiss Nelson and Kai Havertz were also guilty of missed opportunities as the visitors, who hit the woodwork themselves through Trent Alexander-Arnold, got in at the break level.
It was a much more even contest in the second half as both sides fluffed their lines in front of goal. Bukayo Saka could not convert Havertz’s cross, while Darwin Nunez’s pass was behind Diaz as Liverpool threatened on the break.
The breakthrough eventually came 10 minutes from time as Kiwior diverted the ball past Aaron Ramsdale and into his own net before Diaz’s injury-time strike (90+5) sent the Gunners crashing out of the FA Cup with a third straight defeat in all competitions.
Arsenal have only one win in their last seven matches in all competitions as the pressure builds on Arteta to find a solution to his side’s struggles in front of goal.
Meanwhile, Liverpool, who are still in with a chance of winning four competitions this season, can look forward to Monday’s fourth-round draw.
How Liverpool punished Arsenal…
Arsenal came flying out of the traps. Aaron Ramsdale’s long ball over the top was taken down by Nelson, who strode away from Alexander-Arnold. The winger rounded Alisson but with the angle tight his shot hit the side netting.
The Gunners continued to pile the pressure on the visitors as Havertz forced Alisson into action before Nelson saw a shot blocked after Odegaard did not shoot when the chance presented itself.
You could sense the frustration building amongst the home fans and that only continued as another glorious chance went begging. Liverpool created problems of their own making when Joe Gomez was dispossessed by Saka, who immediately sent Havertz through down the middle. Havertz unselfishly teed up Odegaard, who did shoot on this occasion, but the ball cannoned back off the crossbar.
Liverpool were second best for much of the first half but nearly took the lead against the run of play when Harvey Elliott’s outswinging corner found the head of Darwin Nunez, who got up above Ramsdale but sent his header just wide of the target.
Arsenal’s wastefulness continued as the half wore on. Ben White’s powerful strike was tipped over expertly by Alisson before Havertz headed the resultant corner wide. In a half to forget for the £65m summer signing, another weak effort was easily saved by the Liverpool goalkeeper after Liverpool had got into yet more difficulty playing out from the back.
Once again Arteta’s team were inches away from being punished as Alexander-Arnold’s rising strike crashed against the crossbar to end an action-packed first half.
Liverpool came out after the break much-improved, and they provided a real threat going forward as Curtis Jones curled over before Nunez flashed an effort wide.
Despite Liverpool’s improved intent, the chances still came for Arsenal and continued to not be taken with Saka only able to hook over from a Havertz cross, before Alisson showed his class on the hour mark. Another Havertz delivery took a deflection off Jarell Quansah and looked to be heading in until the Liverpool goalkeeper brilliantly clawed the ball away, with Saka slicing wide on the follow-up.
Frustration was building and building at the Emirates and as Klopp turned to his bench with Diogo Jota and Ryan Gravenberch introduced, Arteta turned to Gabriel Martinelli. His entrance injected renewed hope for the frustrated Arsenal supporters, but it was Liverpool who looked the more likely to go on and win the game.
Ramsdale was called upon with 13 minutes remaining to push wide a low effort by Diaz before Jota headed against the bar from Alexander-Arnold’s resulting corner.
However, the pressure eventually told as Alexander-Arnold’s inswinging cross was headed beyond a diving Ramsdale by Kiwior.
Arsenal pushed for a late equaliser but Liverpool’s place in round four was confirmed when Diaz smashed home in the fifth minute of added time to spark jubilant celebrations amongst the 6,000 travelling supporters.
Arteta: We need to be more efficient | ‘We need to stick with the players’
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta:
“Well the performance was there and the amount of chances too. We just have to win the game, but we lost it and we are not capitalising. To win games we need to capitalise.
“When you are better than the best team in Europe and you generate that amount of chances…I have not seen a team do it against them like we have done it. When my team plays with that courage and attitude against probably the best team in Europe right now what can I do but stick by them?
“It is frustrating but what can we do. I can’t tell them play bad, don’t shoot, and score an own goal. It is not enough. The reality is, it is not enough.
“Listen [do I say] play worse than Liverpool, be worse and we will win the game. When my team plays with this confidence what can I do? I am still behind them 100 per cent. It is what it is and we have to continue to play the same way and be more efficient.”
Klopp proud of Liverpool fight
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp:
“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 differently, 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.
“For tonight, great. Wednesday is the next game and then a few days off.
“We have to make steps if you want to be where we are and around that area then we have to make steps all of the time. It wasn’t an easy game to enjoy in the first half.”