Arsenal came into the game looking for a response to their 5-1 drubbing the last time they face Liverpool, and Liverpool were looking for a similar impact the the blistering pace set in the first 20 minutes at Anfield.
Arsene Wenger made seven changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Manchester United - Fabianski, Monreal, Jenkinson, Flamini, Chamberlain, Podolski and Sanogo all coming into the side. French under-21 striker Yaya Sanogo made his full debut for the Gunners.
Brendan Rodgers named a mostly unchanged side with no midweek game to worry about - Brad Jones and Joe Allen the two changes.
Liverpool got off to a good start with a good save from Lukasz Fabianski denying Daniel Sturridge a goal within three minutes. Another chance was wasted minutes later when Sturridge was played in and could only hit the side netting.
But Arsenal grew into the game in the first half, with a few promising moves and set pieces putting the Liverpool defence under pressure. And it was through one of these set pieces that Arsenal found their breakthrough. A free kick from the Arsenal left from Mikel Arteta was cleared to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain whose ball in was met by debutant Yaya Sanogo. His shot was deflected off Steven Gerrard back to Oxlade-Chamberlain who made no mistake from seven yards.
Arsenal were looking much sharper and quicker to the ball than the game at Anfield. Flamini and Arteta were snapping into tackles, and Oxlade-Chamberlain’s energy gave them impetus in both directions. But Liverpool were still finding space on the counter, and more than once the pair of Sturridge and Suarez tested the Arsenal defence in the first half. The Arsenal defence were not found wanting.
HT - Arsenal 1-0 Liverpool
Liverpool came out of the blocks after half time with another early chance - Suarez was found at the edge of the box, and his low shot drew a good save from Arsenal goalkeeper Fabianski.
But moments later, Arsenal doubled their advantage. An excellent ball from Ozil through to Oxlade-Chamberlain behind the defence was pulled back for Lukas Podolski to slot home under Brad Jones. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s pace and energy was proving difficult to deal with for Liverpool, with a number of good moves going through the England man.
Liverpool’s defence was making a number of errors as well, nearly gifting the ball to Yaya Sanogo on more than one occasion. The Arsenal forwards were doing a very good job of allowing them little time on the ball.
Luis Suarez, who had failed to score against Arsenal in their last two meetings, had a number of shots fly wide of the mark.
Liverpool were awarded a penalty on the 60th minute when Luis Suarez was tapped on the ankles by Lukas Podolski. Steven Gerrard stepped up and slotted the ball into the left corner.
After the penalty was given, Brendan Rodgers took off left back Aly Cissokho for Jordan Henderson, moving John Flanagan to the left of defence, giving Liverpool the advantage in midfield. A one-on-one was saved excellently by Lukasz Fabianski from Daniel Sturridge as the game moved up a gear.
A number of feisty challenges and contentious decisions worked up the players and the crowd in the packed Emirates stadium. Liverpool could’ve been awarded another penalty after Oxlade-Chamberlain body-checked Luis Suarez after a free kick. Lukas Podolski was also involved with a number of incidents with Suarez, whose influence on the game was growing.
Arsenal brought on Kieran Gibbs for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to shore up Raheem Sterling’s right side. Five minutes from the end, Daniel Agger had an excellent chance to level the score four minutes from full time when a Steven Gerrard free kick was lofted into the box, and unlike his performance for the rest of the game, Fabianski made a mistake and missed his punch. Agger could only head wide.
FT Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool
Ultimately, Arsenal’s defensive solidity and clinical finishing was the difference, although Liverpool had chances of their own falling to Sturridge and Suarez. Gerrard could have had a second yellow for a foul on Oxlade-Chamberlain, but equally Liverpool could have had a second penalty. Arsenal progress to a quarter final match at the Emirates against Everton.
Goals: Oxlade-Chamberlain, Podolski, Gerrard
Booked: Monreal, Flanagan, Coutinho, Flamini, Gerrard
Arsenal: Fabianski; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscileny, Monreal; Arteta, Flamini; Chamberlain, Ozil, Podolski; Sanogo
Subs: Sagna, Wilshere, Giroud, Cazorla, Gibbs, Gnabry, Viviano
Liverpool: Jones; Flanagan Skrtel Agger Cissokho; Gerrard Allen; Coutinho; Sterling Suarez Sturridge.
Subs: Mignolet, Toure, Moses, Henderson, Kelly, Aspas, Teixeira.
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