Sat. Jan 29th, 2022

Mikel Arteta admits Arsenal were ready “to go to war” with Liverpool after they took control of their Carabao Cup semi-final.

The Gunners held on for a comfortable goalless draw in their first leg at Anfield on Thursday despite playing most of the game with 10 men.

Granit Xhaka was dismissed after 24 minutes for a foul on Diogo Jota when the Liverpool forward was clear on goal.

And Arteta believes his team – who were missing a host of players – deserved their result, which came just four days after losing meekly in the FA Cup at Nottingham Forest.

“When you come to a stadium like this you have to pick players who want to go to war,” said the Arsenal boss.

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“You are going to have a fight and have moments where you are going to suffer.

“If you are willing to help your team and accept you might not be able to play the game you want, then good things are going to happen.

“If you do that, in the end you get rewarded and I think we did that today. It showed how much we want it and how much we want to get into the final.”

Arsenal will go into next Thursday’s second leg at the Emirates as marginal favourites to progress to next month’s Wembley final against Chelsea.

“We are at half-time,” said Arteta. “It is an extraordinary opponent and we got a result that in the circumstances we have to consider is a positive.

“But we are going to need everybody back and create a great atmosphere at the Emirates and the fans that travelled today provided incredible noise and gave us incredible energy.”

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Arteta added: “I am really proud of what the boys did today in an extremely difficult stadium against a great opponent and playing 70 minutes with 10 men.

“It was about a fight, the spirit, the quality they showed to play a game that is not our strength, it’s not what we trained but it’s what was necessary.

“I want to see a team that plays here with emotion and transmits everything we speak about into their game and I saw it today and I’m really happy.

“We came here missing nine of 10 players already. We don’t know what to expect the next day. We can’t be looking at that. We can’t use it as an excuse. We have to play games and we know our job and it can change.”

Arsenal forward Bukayo Saka was forced off during the closing moments with what appeared an injury, casting instant doubt over his availability for the second leg.

But Arteta said: “He felt something in the last minute and he was really fatigued. He’s a young boy and he’ll recover quickly but he’s played a lot of minutes in the last few weeks.”

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