Diogo's new song, a return to Anfield South and an LFC first

Talking pointsDiogo's new song, a return to Anfield South and an LFC first

Published 21st January 2022
By Chris Shaw

Liverpool booked a return to ‘Anfield South’ next month with a memorable 2-0 win at Arsenal in the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg.

Diogo Jota’s wonderfully taken brace at Emirates Stadium on Thursday night sent the Reds through to the competition’s showpiece against Chelsea on February 27.

Extended highlights: Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool

Here are five talking points from a special evening in the capital…

A night to remember

Held to a goalless draw in the first leg last week after playing against 10 men for more than an hour, Jürgen Klopp’s team knew they would have to overcome Arsenal’s home advantage if they were to reach Wembley.

The Gunners burst out of the blocks as they sought to capitalise on the crowd, too, but the visitors held them at bay and then steadily worked through the gears to take control of the tie and make it an occasion to remember.

Jota’s first strike of a classy double finally provided a change to the tie’s scoresheet; his second – a sumptuous chest control and dinked finish over Aaron Ramsdale – effectively clinched victory and achieved the evening’s objective.

“We really put a lot of effort in this competition and we really wanted to go through,” said Klopp, who will now take Liverpool to a seventh cup final of his tenure.

The squad’s delight at accomplishing their mission was evident in the celebrations that greeted Jota’s second goal and the final whistle, with those scenes soundtracked by the joy of around 5,200 travelling supporters inside.

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Wembley, here we come

And so after a tight, 180-minute battle with Mikel Arteta’s men, Liverpool can begin looking forward to a first Wembley cup final appearance for six years.

It was in this competition that the Reds last featured in such a showpiece at the national stadium, losing on penalties to Manchester City during Klopp’s first season at the helm.

Chelsea will be their opponents for the trophy on this occasion, in a game that will be played on Sunday February 27 with a 4.30pm GMT kick-off.

Liverpool are targeting a record ninth success in the League Cup and their first for exactly a decade as they prepare for a familiar journey back to ‘Anfield South’.

‘Ohhh, his name is Diogooo!’

Jota scoring against the Gunners has been a recurring theme ever since the Portugal international joined Liverpool in September 2020.

He netted his first goal for the Reds versus the Gunners at Anfield shortly after signing, helped himself to two more in a 3-0 triumph at Emirates Stadium last season, and slalomed through to strike superbly in their Premier League meeting earlier this term.

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And the forward added two more vital goals to that collection here.

For the opener he scooped up Trent Alexander-Arnold’s angled pass to the left channel, darted into the centre and hooked a low effort past the grasp of Ramsdale from the edge of the box.

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It was a slick, efficient passage of football – initially accelerated by a deft Roberto Firmino flick to Alexander-Arnold – but one matched, if not bettered, by Jota’s second on 77 minutes.

The right-back again provided the assist, sending a diagonal ball to his teammate, who exquisitely did the rest with a chest control followed by a delicate clip over the goalkeeper.

A VAR review confirmed a 14th goal of 2021-22 for the No.20, surpassing his tally for last season.

Little wonder a new fan song in his honour was being bellowed out at Emirates Stadium – expect to hear that one even more frequently in the future.

Robbo’s double century

On a night when Klopp ‘saw so many outstanding performances’ Andy Robertson certainly did not disappoint to mark his 200th Liverpool appearance in all competitions.

A Premier League, Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup winner since arriving from Hull City in 2017, the left-back will now have a crack at lifting the League Cup for the first time.

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There was hefty praise for Robertson when the boss was asked post-match if the Scotland captain is the best in his position in Europe: “For me, absolutely.

“Outstanding player and, again, the mix of his skillset and his mentality, that makes him so special. You see the situations when he has the ball that he is a good footballer but the desire in each game when he really wants to defend with all he has, I think that’s the biggest improvement since he arrived.

“That was a little bit the issue in the early stages when he came from Hull to us; he was already a massive talent but defending-wise we were not over the moon. But he improved a lot and is now the full package, which is really helpful.”

What a signing.

A Liverpool FC first

The Reds had never previously won a League Cup tie at the home of Arsenal, experiencing three draws and three defeats before their latest trip on Thursday.

In fact, they had only mustered two goals in those half-dozen contests.

But Klopp’s charges put a timely end to that statistic with their victory in the semi-final second leg, while also achieving back-to-back wins away at the Gunners for the first time since 1997.

Now they’ll hope eliminating the Londoners can be an omen; twice before they have done so and then gone on to lift the trophy (1981-82 and 1994-95).

Published 21st January 2022