A goal from World Cup hopeful Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain helped Arsenal gain revenge on a hard-working Liverpool by defeating them 2-1 at the Emirates.
Arsenal, who lost 5-1 at the hands of Brendan Rodgers’ rampant Reds last week, are through to the quarter-finals where they will face fellow Merseyside side Everton. Liverpool will feel unlucky not to add to Steven Gerrard’s consolation goal after referee Howard Webb wrongfully turned down a penalty appeal in the second half.
Oxlade-Chamberlain scored one and assisted another when he crossed for Lukas Podolski to fire home, giving the Gunners full confidence ahead of Wednesday night’s showdown with Bayern Munich. However, the game could have been so different if Liverpool took one of their many early chances.
Daniel Sturridge had two major opportunities in the first five minutes of the game, but failed to beat Lukasz Fabianski with his first effort, and wastefully hit the side netting with his second. Arsenal were hardly in the game at this point, but would go up the other end and shock the away side.
Debutant Yaya Sanogo chested down a free-kick in Liverpool’s penalty area but his shot was blocked brilliantly by Gerrard. Unfortunately for the Liverpool skipper, the rebound fell happily into the path of the eager Oxlade-Chamberlain who steered past Brad Jones to put the 2005 FA Cup winners ahead in the 16th minute.
Liverpool then continued their attacking dominance with Fabianksi impressive when keeping out Premier League top scorer Luis Suarez either side of the half-time whistle. Frustration crept in for Rodgers’s side and it went from bad to worse two minutes after the interval.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was consistently a threat on the counter attack, raced past Daniel Agger on the right-wing, before he cut-back for the German Podolski to double Arsenal’s lead.
Podolski would go from hero to villain though, when he clumsily brought down Suarez in the Arsenal box, and Gerrard took the opportunity to fire Liverpool back into the cup-tie with his eighth goal of the season.
That goal reinvigorated the Reds, and they threw everything at the Arsenal goal in the final half hour of the game. Fabianksi denied Sturridge once again with his legs after Philippe Coutinho’s sublime through ball gave the England striker a chance.
Coutinho himself was denied by the Polish keeper as a drive from an angle was kept out. Fabianksi would flap at a Gerrard free-kick, and caught Agger in the process, who couldn’t direct the header on target.
Arsenal did hold on, and go into Wednesday’s game with the Champions League holders in full confidence, while Liverpool now turn their focus to the race for the top four.
Report by Kyle Dixon.