<strong>ARSENAL (2)</strong> vs <strong>LIVERPOOL (1)</strong><br /><br />ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger cited Fran Merida as the perfect example of his club’s philosophy after the young midfielder propelled the Gunners into the Carling Cup last eight.<br /><br />The skilful Spanish 19-year-old set the home side on their way with his first senior goal, a rasping strike that beat Diego Cavalieri at his near post. And although Emiliano Insua’s dipping volley brought Liverpool level, the scheming Merida was a constant threat as Nicklas Bendtner settled an end-to-end thriller in Arsenal’s favour.<br /><br />“He is a quality player and he comes from a very good school,” said Wenger. “We had some top quality on the pitch in midfield and in that kind of game that’s very important. He came to Arsenal at a very young age but our school is in line with the way he was educated and he shows perfectly the way we want to play football.”<br /><br />Both sides fielded youthful sides peppered with senior players. Wenger made 11 changes but included first-teamers Bendtner, Eduardo and fit-again Samir Nasri, making his first start of the season. Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez, meanwhile, employed Dirk Kuyt, Ryan Babel and David Ngog alongside the less familiar Jay Spearing.<br /><br />Ngog, who scored in Sunday’s momentous win over Manchester United, made an early impact, back-heeling Philipp Degen in to shoot just wide. But it was the Gunners who broke the deadlock on 18 minutes, youngster Craig Eastmond’s tackle falling for Merida to lash home from the edge of the area.<br /><br />The celebrations were shortlived, however, as left-back Insua pounced on a loose ball 30 yards out, strode towards the penalty box and unleashed a ferocious dipping volley that whipped over the jack-knifing Lukasz Fabianski.<br /><br />Merida was unlucky not to reply before half-time after a dazzling counter-attack that swept from right-back to left wing ended in his chip over Cavalieri, which Martin Skrtel headed away from goal.<br /><br />But five minutes after the interval Arsenal did regain the advantage, another breakaway finding Bendtner, who stumbled past Skrtel before rifling into the roof of the net.<br /><br />Benitez threw on £20m summer buy Alberto Aquilani for his injury-delayed debut, and Babel was inches away from meeting Kuyt’s goalmouth cross as the visitors chased, but the Gunners held on to go into Saturday’s quarter-final draw.