Leno the hero as Arsenal book spot in League Cup quarter-final

Liverpool vs Arsenal

The 4th round of 2020/21 League Cup action drew to a close on Thursday evening.

The final tie of the round pitted Liverpool against fellow Premier League outfit, Arsenal.

This would be the fourth time the duo have faced off in the space of a few months, with the Gunners actually coming out on top in two of the previous three meetings.

However, Jurgen Klopp’s outfit showed earlier this week that when firing on all cylinders, they are almost impossible to stop.

Both sides would make a number of changes from the clash at Anfield earlier this week.

And after making a number of big changes, Liverpool were unable to recreate the same magic they produced at Anfield earlier in the week.

Minamino misses a sitter

With many changes made by both sides, Thursday’s tie, unsurprisingly, took some time before either side really found their rhythm.

It would be the visitors who carved out the first chance of the evening through Nicolas Pepe.

The Ivorian, operating from the left flank, cut inside and found Joe Willock, the midfielder then got the ball to Eddie Nketiah who really should have done a lot better with his chance which was easily dealt with by Adrian.

Liverpool’s first half-chance of the evening then fell to Marko Grujic after some lovely work from Diogo Jota and Curtis Jones. However, the midfielder hit his effort wide of Bernd Leno’s post just after the 10-minute mark.

The ball then ended up in Adrian’s net a few minutes later after a well-worked free-kick by Arsenal, but play was brought back for a foul in the build-up.

The game settled into something of a lull after that chance, though, with both sides looking fairly scrappy.

Dani Ceballos’ speculative shot from distance 41 minutes in was the only real point of note for Arsenal in the latter stages of the first half.

The Spaniard then fouled Jota right on the edge of the Arsenal box minutes later, but the free-kick came to nothing.

Takumi Minamino then really should have put Liverpool into the lead on the stroke of half-tim. But the forward hit his effort off the crossbar despite basically having an open goal.

The first 45 drew to a close with Arteta probably the happier of the two managers.

The north Londoners had looked the better of the two outfits in the first half, with Liverpool struggling to break down a well-drilled Arsenal backline for large parts of the tie.

Leno the hero

The second half started much the same way the first did, with neither side looking anywhere near their best.

Virgil van Dijk would come closes to scoring early on, forcing a solid reaction save from Leno.

Jota then came close for Liverpool moments later, with the Reds this time denied by a deflection.

Grujic headed wide from the resulting corner as Liverpool began to pile the pressure on the visitors. The recently returned midfielder continued to shine for Liverpool, this time seeing a long-range effort tipped wide by Leno.

Despite seeming to gain the upper hand in the tie, Klopp opted to take off Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah for Joe Gomez and Divock Origi on the hour-mark.

Despite losing two of their key men, however, Liverpool kept piling the pressure on Leno, with the Arsenal no.1 forced to make some quality saves to deny Jota and then Grujic within a few minutes.

With Liverpool hammering on Arsenal’s door, Arteta opted to bring on Mohamed Elneny for Ceballos.

Said change did seem to have a positive impact with a superb last-ditch tackle from Neco Williams the only thing preventing Saka from being through on goal a few moments later.

Adrian then made a great save to deny Rob Holding after the centre-back connected with a lovely cross from Pepe.

Alexandre Lacazette was thrown on for the final 10 minutes of the tie as Arsenal looked to push for a late winner.

But neither side was able to break the deadlock, forcing the game to be decided by penalties.

And after Leno saved penalties from both Origi and Harry Wilson, Willock was able to step up and fire Arsenal through to the last eight.

In truth, very few players from either side stood out this evening. But there should be no doubts that Bernd Leno was the hero on the night.

As well as saving two penalties, the German kept Arsenal in the tie in the second 45 with a number of quality saves.

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Liverpool vs Arsenal The 4th round of 2020/21 League Cup action drew to a close on Thursday evening. The final tie of the round pitted Liverpool against fellow Premier League outfit, Arsenal. This would be the fourth time the duo have faced off in the space of a few months, with the Gunners actually comingFootball (soccer) greatest goals and highlights | 101 Great Goals – Feed

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