Leno : Man of the Match, that’s it really, but it was Bernd at his best, getting down low to push shots around the post, stretching to push a goal bound lob over the bar, his instinctive save that led to Minamino volleying the rebound against the bar a bit of luck that he earned. If I recall rightly, he made at least four saves that should have been almost certain goals among his repertoire of impressive saves; and then he made the two saves that won us the penalty shoot-out.
Soares : After another lay off with injury it was a tough call to drop him straight back into a difficult Cup tie, but that’s his job and he did ok given his rustiness; he also scored one of our penalties. We’ve not really seen enough of him due to a series of circumstances and opinions on him from the fan base are a bit mixed, but he didn’t make any major errors and got stuck in which is necessary against a Liverpool side who are always physical in the challenge.
Kolasinac : Very surprised to see him starting with his return to the Bundesliga pending, but to his credit he had a decent 90 minutes, maybe the German scouts were watching? Made a couple of poor passes but that’s par for the course, the rest of his play was tidy and he won most of his 50/50 duels. If this is to be his farewell performance in an Arsenal shirt then it was a decent one.
Holding : It seemed to me as if Arsenal were playing a back four and matching Liverpool in midfield so the pressure was on our centre backs and I think they gave a good account of themselves. Rob was central to most of our best defending I thought and really should have scored during a rare period of Arsenal pressure in the 2nd half.
Gave only one sloppy pass out of play and played some nice stuff under intense pressure.
Gabriel : A tough Cup tie baptism but not many players play their first game at Anfield for the opposition and come away with the win. A sturdy no nonsense performance and he dealt with the intense Liverpool press with a quiet composure. He really looks the type of centre back we’ve wanted for years and he’ll only get better and better.
Willock : He put in a good shift, got forward a lot and put in some good challenges. Generally he coped well with the press but the unfamiliarity of the position and having Soares as his partner made it difficult, not least because of the pressure he was under, but he played the entire 90 minutes and scored the winning, albeit scruffy penalty.
Xhaka : Was under constant and intense pressure as Liverpool did their best to shut him down, but Granit didn’t hide even after a few misplaced passes and Arteta kept him on. Not one of his best games but possibly one of his bravest as the red shirts swarmed around him as he tried to keep calm whilst building our attacks, such as they were.
Ceballos : Not one of his best games but he grafted as he always does, not his evening to be the hero but he also didn’t hide or fold under the pressure from the red horde.
I like Dani and he’s going to have many better days for us, but he did look miserable when he came off to be replaced.
Saka : Was my Man of the Match before the penalty shoot-out, yes I thought he was fantastic tonight he never stopped working in defence, grafting in midfield and running in the attack, he’s an absolute gem and he looked totally knackered when he came off late in the game with cramp. He was our most creative player and linked up really well with Pepe. Was the recipient of some really nasty fouls from the Scousers but he’s as tough as old boots, very much in the mould of Rocky Rocastle.
Pepe : Best game of the season from Old Nick and arguably one of his best for the club, played along the left flank and drifted into the middle in a similar fashion to Aubameyang, caused the Liverpool defenders all kinds of problems and got a load of kicks for his trouble. No protection from the referee but he just got on with it, was our most dangerous attacker and most likely scorer in normal time but fed on scraps.
Scored a very casual penalty in the shoot-out.
Nketiah : Eddie made a few really good runs but the service from the midfield was slow and lacked the vision to spot him as he worked very hard for very little reward, he’ll do half as much running and chasing in other games and score a hat trick. Liverpool play a very tight and well-disciplined off side which stifled many of our attacks so it wasn’t a game where strikers will flourish.
Elneny : Replaced Ceballos and immediately brought some calm to proceedings, Liverpool had taken off Van Dyke, Jota and Salah so Liverpool possibly lost some edge anyway but Mo recycled confidently and got forward to press as the game swung towards Arsenal for a spell. Took a terrible penalty in the shoot-out but it didn’t matter in the end.
Lacazette : Replaced Eddie late in the game and injected some energy into our attack and scored his penalty in the shoot-out.
Maitland Niles : Was the final change as the cramp finished off Saka’s nights work.
His energy on the left was very welcome as Liverpool looked for a late winner.
His penalty in the shoot-out was hilarious. He just ambled up to the penalty spot, took his stumbling run up and completely sent the goalkeeper the wrong way before firing Adrian a big beaming grin. I should have been on edge watching it, but I was laughing, I knew he’d score, nobody takes penalties like Ainsley, I’m surprised that he didn’t have a nap in the middle of his run up.