BrotherCoach Mikel Arteta was proud when Arsenal drew Liverpool 0-0 at Anfield in the semi-final first leg of the English League Cup on January 13, despite losing people in the middle of the first half.
“The players were enthusiastic in every ball, showing great attitude, fighting spirit, and great teamwork,” Arteta said at the post-match press conference. “You can see the emotions of the players playing, and they don’t give up. Fighting with 10 men, against a strong opponent like Liverpool, is extremely difficult. Before the game, I told the players. That said, they need to show the highest determination to be able to play at Anfield.”
Xhaka received a direct red card for kicking Diogo Jota in the stomach in the 24th minute. Playing without people for more than half an hour at Anfield, Arsenal died and saved the net successfully. The two teams will play the second leg at Emirates at 2:45 am on January 21, Hanoi time.
When asked about the situation where Xhaka was sent off, Arteta succinctly said: “I haven’t watched the ball, so I can’t comment.” Meanwhile, center-back Ben White – the player who received the award of the match – defended his teammates: “It is not ideal for Arsenal to receive a red card so early. But Xhaka was busy looking at the ball and did not know where Jota was. . Playing with 11 people against Liverpool is already difficult. And today, we fought together, and got the results we wanted.”
After Xhaka was sent off, Arteta had to replace striker Edward Nketiah with midfielder Rob Holding to strengthen the defense. The Spain coach has only 18-year-old midfielder Charlie Patino left on the bench, when Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny are absent for national service in the 2021 CAN African Championship.
“Arsenal can’t play the way the team wants. We also don’t have a midfielder, so what we do is relatively passive,” emphasized Arteta. “Arsenal has to play with a three-man midfield, consisting of Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka, Sambi Lokonga, and they have never played in such a system. But it doesn’t matter what formation. Today, the players showed. competitive spirit, and quality in decision making”.
Yesterday’s red card also caused Xhaka to be suspended during his trip to Tottenham in round 22 of the Premier League on January 16. In addition, the injury of the duo Cedric Soares and Calum Chambers caused Arteta to have a headache with the Arsenal force.
Asked if he wanted to postpone the London derby, the Spaniard replied: “I don’t know. It’s possible game by game, because of the problems that teams face every week. But they are. I always prepare, practice with the thought of going to the field to compete, and accept all decisions of the organizers.”
Hong Duy (follow Sun)