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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at Emirates Stadium

Lack of cutting edge hurts Arsenal again as Liverpool end their interest in the FA Cup

FA Cup Third Round

Arsenal (0) 0

Liverpool (0) 2 Kiwior og 80, Diaz 90+5

A game straining at the leash to reach the status of a classic fell just short as far as Arsenal were concerned, as their recent profligacy in front of goal again came back to bite them.

It was a game that looked increasingly destined to end 0-0 and send both teams to Anfield for an unwanted replay, but there was a late twist when Trent Alexander-Arnold's angled free-kick glanced off the head of Jakub Kiwior past a helpless Aaron Ramsdale. Luis Diaz added some icing on Liverpool's cake with an injury time goal from a breakaway to rub it in.

The colours on display were unfamiliar, but the red-blooded passion was anything but. Arsenal in an anti-knife crime all white kit against the purple of Liverpool. A raucous atmosphere testified to this feeling like the tie of the round.

The teams recently played out a thrilling 1-1 draw up north and are due to meet again at the Emirates next month in another instalment of an intense title battle. Arsenal will need to rediscover some prowess in front of goal if that one is not to go the same was as this one.

The Whites were the ones creating the better chances in a frenzied opening half - Martin Odegaard blasting against the crossbar from 12 yards, Ben White's rising shot almost beating Alisson. Kai Havertz shot straight at the Liverpool keeper when he should have done better.

Alexander-Arnold responded with a rasper which also rattled Ramsdale's crossbar.

It was a game no doubt earning the approval of Sunday night TV watchers almost as much as those packed into the Emirates. For Mikel Arteta, though, it will have felt like a script which he is desperate to change. The lack of a cutting edge was again hurting his side and denying them reward for some smart build-up play.

Bukayo Saka hooked over after a quick free-kick ushered Havertz to the byline for a chip up into the six-yard box.

At times, maybe Jurgen Klopp was thinking the same about an inability to make the most of great openings. The enigmatic force that is Darwin Nunez cut in from the left and drilled a cross-shot that missed the netting by not very much.

Late on, Ramsdale did superbly to keep out a Diaz strike that was heading for the bottom corner. Diogo Jota hit the bar with a header from the resulting corner as the missed-chance count kept rising.

In the end, though, it was Arsenal left counting the cost. Even without a Mo Salah on Africa Cup of Nations duty, there are goals in that Reds team.

That's just the five goals now in their past seven games for the Gunners. Their fans are not having a lot of fun at the moment. On a day when Ivan Toney hit three in a behind-closed doors friendly, the need for an out-and-out striker has never felt greater.

Gunners: (4-3-3) Ramsdale - White, Saliba, Gabriel, Kiwior (Trossard 89) - Odegaard, Jorginho Nketiah 80), Rice - Saka, Havertz (Smith Rowe 89), Nelson (Martinelli 62)

Reds: (4-3-3) Alisson - Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Quansah, Gomez - Elliott (Bradley 76), Mac Allister (Gravenberch 59), Jones (Clark 76) - Gakpo (Jota 59), Nunez, Diaz


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