Crazy, chaotic and remarkable but youngsters can go all the way after Arsenal win
Liverpool verdict - Crazy, chaotic and remarkable but youngsters can go all the way after Arsenal win
Paul Gorst watches a remarkable game at Anfield as Liverpool's youngsters book their place in the Carabao Cup quarter finals with a penalty shootout victory
By Paul Gorst Liverpool FC correspondent
22:26, 30 OCT 2019
So, just who exactly, said the Carabao Cup doesn't matter? It certainly wasn't any Liverpool player involved in this. Not one of the near 50,000 who turned up on a cold midweek night at Anfield, either.
Certainly not Curtis Jones, who tucked away the decisive penalty with trademark confidence to send the Reds through to the last eight . And most definitely not Jurgen Klopp who celebrated on the pitch with his charges after the wildest game this old stadium has witnessed for many a year.
A crazy, chaotic 5-5 draw in normal time showcased everything great about English football's secondary competition. Played at night with no disruption to Premier League schedules and the opportunity for fans to view players on the fringe, as well as ones for the future, there is a lot to be said for the Carabao Cup. Particularly when it serves up drama like this.
In fact, far from disappearing way down the pecking order of Anfield priorities, Liverpool 's youngsters played this game like a final of their own , scratching and clawing until the final kick of a truly remarkable football match that featured 10, yes, ten goals.
The Gunners' record against the Reds has been poor over the last five years. The north Londoners have won just one in the last 10 and have been soundly beaten on each of their last four visits to L4. Their wait will go on after this breathless finish to an enthralling evening.
Rotation has been the buzzword for Liverpool so far in this competition, with Klopp prepared to name three teenagers and a 20-year-old goalkeeper in the previous round at Stadium MK. The trend has even spread into the press room where Pep Lijnders has filled in for Klopp in the pre-match meetings with the media, impressing all while In situ in the process.
Once more, the fledglings were handed the chance to impress at Anfield as the Gunners made the trip to a ground that as seen them ship 15 goals in just four games. Make that 20 in five.
In-keeping with the theme of the Carabao Cup, Klopp once more named a string of debutants as five of his starting lineup made their first forays onto Anfield as first-team players with Neco Williams making his senior debut at right-back. Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana were named in the midfield and handed their own chance to build on creditable displays against Manchester United and Genk recently, while teenage summer signing Sepp van den Berg was picked at the centre of defence with Joe Gomez.
It didn't take long for the new-look Reds to break the deadlock as Oxlade-Chamberlain once more showed what he can bring to the attacking endeavours of Klopp's midfield. Breaking through down the right, his centre caused Shkodran Mustafi to panic and his slide tackle ended up going past Emiliano Martinez with Rhian Brewster lurking.
Divock Origi, Joe Gomez, Neco Williams, Harvey Elliott, James Milner and Rhian Brewster celebrate victory after Curtis Jones scores during the penalty shoot out during the Carabao Cup Round of 16 match between Liverpool and Arsenal (Image: Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Arsenal restored parity through Lucas Torreira who netted his second goal of the season at Anfield from close range after Kelleher had denied Saka who found a few yards of space inside the penalty area. Replays showed the Uruguayan to be in an offside position but with no VAR in place , the goal stood.
Emery's side then took the lead before the half-hour mark when Gabriel Martinelli hammered square into the roof of the net with Kelleher on the floor after a smart initial save. The young Irishman's luck was out early on after he was beaten twice from rebounds.
Martinelli then grabbed his second of the night when he was left with acres of space inside the area to pick his spot. He duly obliged to put the visitors 3-1 to the good with around 10 minutes of the first half left to play. The home side were ragged as passes became loose and energy levels dropped. The Arsenal supporters serenaded their players as Klopp's players struggled to get a foothold
They eventually found one, however, through Harvey Elliott as he went down under a challenge inside the area. Andre Marriner pointed to the spot before James Milner stuck it away to make it 2-3 before the half-time whistle. These two teams played out a frantic match in this competition in 2007 as Arsenal won here 6-3 , but this one will be talked about for much longer on the Kop, rest assured. A modern-day classic.
With Klopp choosing a whole heap of inexperience in his side, it was the old head of Milner who was forced into the rarest of mistakes as his short back-pass allowed Ainsley Maitland-Niles to convert after Mesut Ozil had rescued the ball.
Any feeling that this young Liverpool team were done for quickly evaporated, however, as Oxlade-Chamberlain fired in his third goal of the week to drag his team kicking and screaming back into the contest. Liverpool simply refused to go quietly and minutes later, level pegging was restored thanks to Origi.
It was substitute Curtis Jones who fed Origi on the edge of the box and the Belgian's swivel with his back to goal found the perfect finish to match as he rifled it home for a remarkable 4-4 leveller. And there was still a half-hour to play.
There was to another twist in the tale, though, as Joe Willock smashed one past Kelleher from all of 30 yards to make it 5-4 on the night to the visitors.
Liverpool brought on Chirivella for Oxlade-Chamberlain as the Reds chased a scarcely believable fifth to level the game. It eventually arrived, though. Of course it did.
Williams, who, to his immense credit, stuck to his task all night on a debut he will never, ever forget, pinged in a hopeful cross that was met by Origi. The Belgium's international over-head kick of sorts crept by Martinez to send the game to spot-kicks.
Penalties would be the order of the day and it was Jones who nonchalantly slotted from 12 yards to send the Reds through 5-4 after Kelleher had denied Dani Ceballos.
On Liverpool march, into the last eight and Klopp and his young guns will have serious designs on winning the whole thing. Try telling them this one doesn't matter.
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