Jota sentenced Arsenal. The Portuguese double takes Liverpool to the League Cup final

The strik­er is the main headache for the Gun­ners.

Eng­land. League Cup. 1/2 finals

20 Jan, 22:45. Emi­rates Sta­di­um (Lon­don)




At a time when, due to a wave of pos­i­tive Covid tests, choos­ing a squad for each next match turns into a lot­tery, Arse­nal head coach Mikel Arte­ta could count on almost all the best (not count­ing, of course, those who left for the African Cup) and did not save none of the lead­ers. But Jur­gen Klopp sur­prised with at least one of his deci­sions. Alis­son, who played the first match at Anfield a week ago, remained on the bench — his place was tak­en by Quiv­in Kelle­her.

Arse­nal began to press from the first sec­onds. The pres­sure led to a dan­ger­ous free kick in the 5th minute of the game — Alexan­dre Lacazette care­ful­ly threw the “wall”, but hit the cross­bar. But it was obvi­ous that the hosts would not be able to con­stant­ly play with such pas­sion and at such a hur­ri­cane pace. And as soon as the Gun­ners were a lit­tle exhaust­ed, Liv­er­pool scored.

In the 20th minute of the match, Dio­go Jota drib­bled from the left flank to the cen­ter and shot in the oppo­site direc­tion to Aaron Rams­dale. The Gun­ners goal­keep­er did not have time to react to the slow­ly and accu­rate­ly rolling ball. By the way, Trent Alexan­der-Arnold scored the assist.

The teams were unable to cre­ate any­thing more intel­li­gi­ble in attack before the break. There was a feel­ing that Arse­nal couldn’t, and Liv­er­pool didn’t want to. But the hosts start­ed the sec­ond half with anoth­er scor­ing chance from Lacazette. Hav­ing received the ball after being thrown into the penal­ty area, the French for­ward pow­er­ful­ly shot over the goal.

And already in the response attack, the Reds could have increased their advan­tage, but 17-year-old Kay­di Gor­don shot high from the goal line. In the 59th minute of the match, Trent could have made a sec­ond assist, but the ball, after a shot from sub­sti­tute Ibrahim Konate, hit the post.

The game opened up, but the guests had more dan­ger­ous attacks. Arse­nal could not bring their offen­sive to a shot on goal — they lacked the last pass. Liv­er­pool were unlucky in fin­ish­ing attacks. But in the end, the com­bi­na­tion of Trent and Zho­ta scored the team’s sec­ond goal in the match. The Eng­lish­man, with a pre­cise diag­o­nal, brought the Por­tuguese one on one with Rus­m­dale, and the for­ward threw the ball over the goal­keep­er. The VAR made Liv­er­pool fans a lit­tle ner­vous, but in the end the video assis­tants con­firmed that Jota was in the right posi­tion at the moment of the pass. For the 25-year-old strik­er, this goal was the fourth in two match­es at the Emi­rates. No oth­er Liv­er­pool play­er has scored in this are­na again.

The sec­ond goal final­ly killed the hosts’ will to win. The impres­sion of the Gun­ners’ game was com­plete­ly over­shad­owed by the removal of Thomas Partey. The Ghana­ian, who returned from the African Cup, came on as a sub­sti­tute in the 74th minute of the game, and in the 90th minute he received a sec­ond yel­low card and left the field.

Now Liv­er­pool will play Chelsea in the League Cup final, which will take place on Feb­ru­ary 27 at Wem­b­ley. The last time the Reds reached the final of the com­pe­ti­tion was Jur­gen Klop­p’s first sea­son at Anfield (2015/16), and they won the tro­phy 10 years ago. Con­sid­er­ing that the title race in the Pre­mier League is de fac­to over, Liv­er­pool have some­thing to prove in the third most impor­tant Eng­lish tour­na­ment.