Another ‘step forward’ for evolving Gunners and Arteta

Another ‘step forward’ for evolving Gunners and Arteta

LONDON • Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta believes that his team are on the “right path” after squeezing past Liverpool 5-4 on penalties on Thursday to advance to the League Cup quarter-finals after a goal-less 90 minutes.

With the Premier League champions making several changes to the team that beat Arsenal 3-1 in the top flight on Monday and their opponents also rotating, it was always unlikely to be a high-class encounter.

But Arteta was pleased with his side’s efforts at Anfield.

“We still have lots to learn but we’re on the right path,” the Spaniard, just 10 months into the job, said. “It’s the third time in eight weeks we have played against the best team in Europe, in my opinion, and it is a step forward for my team.

“We want to treat every competition as an opportunity to win a trophy, we have to do that for the club we represent and we will do that.”

Liverpool had the better chances and should have been awarded a 44th-minute penalty when Diogo Jota was brought down in the box.

The resulting free kick eventually led to Takumi Minamino finding space and smashing his close-range shot onto the crossbar.

Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno made two consecutive saves to stop Jota and Marko Grujic, and the visitors responded with a chance of their own as Rob Holding’s header was punched away by Adrian in the 70th minute.

The Gunners also appealed for a penalty in stoppage time when James Milner fell and handled the ball in the box.

Referee Kevin Friend, however, did not point to the spot and there is no video assistant referee technology used in the competition.

But Arsenal celebrated in the end, prevailing in the shoot-out when Joe Willock’s spot kick crept under Adrian to send them through, after Leno had saved from Divock Origi and Harry Wilson.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp told Sky Sports: “If there would have been a winner in 90 minutes, it should have been us but we are not in dreamland, you have to score.

“I liked a lot of parts of the game, we mixed it up a lot and I saw a proper performance, a lot of things we like on the pitch when you wear this wonderful shirt.

“A penalty shoot-out is tricky, everyone knows.”