It was a professional performance from Liverpool, who beat Arsenal 2-0 in the second leg of their semi-final tie. The Reds were measured and controlled in their victory over the North London side; it was a much-improved showing from Jurgen Klopp’s men.
In the opening 10 minutes of the game, Arsenal were on the front foot and used the noise of the crowd to attack with pace and power. Caoimhin Kelleher was forced into making a superb save in the 3rd minute. He tipped Alexandre Lacazette’s freekick onto the bar. After this however, the Republic of Ireland ‘keeper was relatively quiet. It was an excellent showing from him; he was calm and composed on the ball and his distribution was great on the night.
Once Liverpool got into the game, it did not take long for them to score. Diogo Jota scored both goals, taking his tally for the season to 14 goals. He broke the deadlock in the 19th minute, finishing off a well-worked move. Roberto Firmino backheeled the ball for Trent Alexander-Arnold, who set Jota away on the left wing. From there it was all about the Portuguese’s movement. He drove past Takehiro Tomiyasu, making his way into the box and slotted it past Aaron Ramsdale.
It was a vintage Jota goal and further highlighted how good a signing he has been for the Reds.
Once Liverpool got the first goal, it didn’t look like they would let their lead slip. They controlled the game magnificently, with the midfield dictating the game. On the odd occasion that the defence was called into action, they dealt with Arsenal’s threat amazingly well. Andy Robertson is a great example of this. He kept Bukayo Saka quiet all game.
Jota scored his second goal in the 77th minute. Alexander-Arnold showed his class with a delicate chip-pass over the Arsenal defence for Jota. Jota controlled it nicely with his chest and dinked it over the onrushing Ramsdale. The goal was initially given as offside but a VAR review awarded the goal for the Reds.
It was great to see the Reds control the game so effectively. It was shades of the team that won the Premier League, not allowing the opposition a sniff at goal and killing them off with quick, incisive goals.
Class performances all over the pitch
It was a classy team performance from Liverpool, but there were some stand-out players. Jota continued to show why Klopp bought him. Two more goals for the Portuguese and another very strong performance. It is a testament to his work rate and skill that he has broken into Liverpool’s front three. He now has to be considered a starter in the attacking line.
Alexander-Arnold once again showed why he is the best right back in the world. Much like Jota with his goals, it was two more assists for the young full back. It is scary how good Trent is, and aged just 23, he is only going to improve. If he continues to perform at this level for the rest of his career, we could be looking at one of the best right backs to ever play the game. The fact that this is not a bold statement speaks volumes for how incredible the Scouser is.
It was also great to see Curtis Jones back in the team. His absence from the squad has flown under the radar, but it is clear to see how much he has been missed. It was a classic Jones performance, confident on the ball and diligent in his defensive duties. He is the perfect mix of flair and combativeness and was outstanding on the night. Again, it is scary to think that he is just 20-years-old.
Can Reds go on a run?
With this victory and strong performance, it would be great to see the Reds go a winning run now. It was a fantastic week for them, beating Brentford at the weekend before beating the Gunners. With Crystal Palace on the horizon, Liverpool need to carry this momentum into February.
It is a busy month for them, playing in four competitions: an FA Cup tie against Cardiff City, league games against Leicester City, Burnley and Norwich City, the return of the Champions League where they face Inter Milan and finishing off with the Carabao Cup final.
During this time Liverpool should see the return of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Naby Keita, Thiago Alcantara and Harvey Elliott to bolster their squad. These timely returns could not come at a better time.
It is hard to see a world where Manchester City let their lead at the top of the Premier League slip, but there is still a lot of football to play for the Reds and a lot to be excited about. If Klopp’s side can perform well in February, there will be plenty up for grabs for them come the end of the season.