It’s probably unwise to draw any firm conclusions from a game that open, unpredictable and madcap but both Jurgen Klopp and Unai Emery learned something about their players after making 11 changes to their starting XIs.
Tonight’s match at Anfield was a contest for a place in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup, and yet it felt like a playground match of next goal wins in which every participant was desperate to impress and one-up each other.
Aside from the 10 goals, penalty shoot-out and general shock and awe, there were some takeaways from one of the most entertaining matches in recent memory.
No way back for Mustafi
By the end of the shoot-out it felt like an age ago, but Emery should not forget the way his side fell behind in the sixth minute.
Shkodran Mustafi has long been on the outside looking in at the Gunners’ first-team plans and his performance was confirmation it should stay that way.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain did well to charge in down the right channel and deliver a dangerous cross, but Mustafi did not need to go to ground and did not need to use his opposite foot to try and clear. His own-goal was not unfortunate.
Although he managed to avoid any other major mishaps, the German’s Arsenal career is on the permanent decline.
The prognosis is less dramatic for Naby Keita, but it’s fair to say a player who arrived for £52m and with a great deal of hype back in July 2018 is still yet to live up to it.
The 24-year-old midfielder was substituted in the 55th minute having contributed nothing apart from several instances of giving the ball away.
Despite playing alongside several youth team graduates it was he who looked out of his depth and way off the pace.
Ozil still classy
He was one of few players who didn’t manage to get his name on the score-sheet, but despite defeat, he is the main thing weighing on Emery’s mind.
Mesut Ozil had been frozen out, without an appearance in over a month, and yet managed to ooze class when plonked back in the line-up.
He coolly picked out Bukayo Saka before Lucas Torreira’s goal, sent the winger on his way for the in-form Gabriel Martinelli’s first and casually flicked the ball back in play for Ainsley Maitland-Niles to make it 4-2.
Emery said before kick-off that the game was “important for him”. Now the manager has a decision to make.
Origi stands up
Divock Origi was poor in the first half and yet came out in the second and scored not one but two equalisers to send Liverpool into the penalty shoot-out.
His spin and blast past Emiliano Martinez from Curtis Jones’s pass and 94th-minute volley from Neco Williams’ cross showed his unique ability to score when it matters.
While his consistency can be questioned, having scored twice in the Champions League semi-final and once in the final last season his temperament is not.
Arsenal let it slip
This match meant more for Emery. While Klopp is concentrated on other fronts, the Arsenal manager needed a performance to ease pressure.
He got some positives, and yet he will be gutted they didn’t hang on and defend their lead.
The Gunners boss may reflect on quality strikes – Oxlade-Chamberlain’s long-range, swerving half-volley in particular – and suspect goalkeeping from Martinez, but really his more experienced team should have shut up shop.
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