Liverpool 5-5 Arsenal (5-4 Pens): Gunners fall to defeat in Cup thriller

Rarely are games between Arsenal and Liverpool boring, but even Wednesday night's Carabao Cup clash between the pair took things to new heights.

A sensational spectacle of attacking flair and defensive incoherence from both sets of squads, who were considerably more youthful than their first-team outfits, saw ten goals shipped in ninety minutes before the tie was sealed with a penalty shootout.

Jurgen Klopp's side came out the victors as Curtis Jones converted from the spot following Dani Ceballos' miss, leaving Unai Emery's side out of the competition for another year.

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Gunners show attacking flair in Carabao Cup thriller

On a night of sheer mayhem, Premier League leaders Liverpool only led once during the contest, after Shkodran Mustafi returned to his usual ways, needlessly sliding to ground to divert Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's cross into his own net. 

The centre-half has produced a series of high profile errors throughout his time at the club and was again at fault as his exuberance to prevent Rhian Brewster getting to the ball succumbed the early initiative. However, while defensive issues remained, Arsenal were promising at the other end of the field, levelling the scores through Lucas Torreira just thirteen minutes later. 

Indeed, although it was the home side who opened the scoring, Arsenal react well to the setback, harrying Liverpool into  poor mistakes in possession while showing plenty of verve on the ball to carve out chances on Caoimhin Kelleher's goal. 

Making just his third start of the season, Mesut Ozil was on hand to carve out a chance for Bukayo Saka, whose shot rebounded fortuitously into the path of Lucas Torreira to make it 1-1. Had VAR been in use on the night, his goal would have been ruled out for offside, but the luck appeared to be with Emery's side, acting as a catalyst for a strong thirty minutes before the half-time interval. 

Teenage sensation Gabriel Martinelli, who was gifted a start following his recent good form, continued to grab the headlines, displaying his ruthless streak in front of goal with a quick fire double to put Arsenal 1-3 up after 36 minutes. Showing good awareness to pounce on a loose ball inside the area before converting Saka's low cross, the striker looked a confident figure at Anfield, knitting play together well while offering movement for Ozil to pick him out on several occasions.

Arsenal's lead was to be cut in half before the interval through a James Milner penalty much to Unai Emery's frustration after Martinelli was judged to have hauled down Harvey Elliott following the teenager's shoulder feint that sent his opponent the wrong way. A clear blow for the Gunners given their ascendency in the latter stages of the first forty-five, Emery's side returned the two goal gap after 54 minutes when Ainsley Maitland-Niles converted to make it 2-4. 

A rare misjudgement from James Milner saw the veteran's pass back to Kelleher fall short, allowing Ozil to snap in and pick up possession. The German playmaker made full use of the chance, teeing up Maitland-Niles, delivering a sizeable message to his manager in the process amid an ongoing feud about his current playing time.

The game had been jam-packed with drama to that point but continued to provide twists and turns until the final whistle. First, former Gunner Oxlade-Chamberlain's sensational volley cannoned into the top corner before  a smart turn and shot from. Divock Origi saw Liverpool dramatically claw back to 4-4. 

At that point, it was very much a case of which attack could do the most damage against severely depleted defences. Joe Willock would hit one of the sweetest strikes of his career, firing a driven shot beyond Kelleher from outside of the box with twenty minutes left.

His strike, which rivalled Chamberlain's for the best goal on the night, appeared for all the world as though it would be the final nail in the coffin, sending Arsenal into the quarter-final of the Carabao Cup,  but for a stoppage time scissor kick from Origi to set up a dramatic penalty shootout. 

Both sides were impenetrable before Dani Ceballos was ultimately outdone by the 20-year-old Liverpool 'keeper, leaving Curtis Jones to convert and send Klopp's side through. A hard result for the Gunners to take given the dominant position they found themselves in at various points in the contest, Emery will have been pleased by the performances of some of the club's young talents.

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Mesut Ozil still has plenty to offer Arsenal despite ongoing feud 

Wednesday's clash was a game of attack vs attack in its purest form; the type of spectacle made for your best talents to come out and thrive. Mesut Ozil, despite failing to make an appearance in any of Arsenal's last seven games, had done just that; spraying the ball with the verve and confidence of every world-class player while possessing the creative eye and intelligence to spot the movement of his teammates, his performance was one that served as a message to his manager.

Given Arsenal's position in the Premier League and recent disappointment against Crystal Palace, having been 2-0 up in the first-half, Emery's side could certainly benefit from an extra injection of flair in the midfield areas to support the attacking line of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. Based on Wednesday's performance, there is certainly plenty Ozil still has to offer this side and while his defensive contributions can be questioned, there can be no qualms over his ability to influence a match as the orchestrator and engineer to the club's fluent attack. 

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Did Emery's tactics cost him at the death?

Albeit a night where neither side played their strongest team, Unai Emery certainly needed a win more than anyone else. The manager continues to fall under the microscope at present, with another disappointing result in the league amplifying off the field issues, particularly Granit Xhaka's bust up with fans and a potential backlash over the club's captaincy. 

While the result ultimately fell to a test of nerve from the shootout, there were yet more lingering questions to be asked over Emery's tactical decisions on the night. Perhaps most head scratching was the substitution of Ozil, who had played a part in two of Arsenal's five goals before being replaced by the more defensively minded Matteo Guendouzi at 4-4.

The Frenchman has had a solid campaign to date and was likely brought on in the hopes of solidifying the back-four, but given the attacking nature of the tie and the room for more goals, it appeared a peculiar decision - one that perhaps signified the ongoing feud that seems to be lingering on between the pair. 

Had Ozil remained on the pitch, Arsenal would've retained their potency in the final third and could well have created further chances in what remained of the contest. As it stands, there remains plenty of speculation over the German playmaker's future, with thoughts now turning to whether he will be involved in the starting line-up against Wolves at the weekend. 

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