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Arsenal vs Liverpool final score: Diogo Jota double sends Reds to final vs Chelsea

Joe Prince-Wright, Nick Mendola and Andy Edwards diagnose every Big Six team's biggest need during the January transfer window.

Arsenal vs Liverpool: The Reds reached the final of the 2021-22 League Cup, where they will face fellow top-three Premier League side Chelsea, by beating the Gunners 2-0 (same on aggregate) in the two sides’ semifinal second leg at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday.

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The second semifinal tie was level at 0-0 following last week’s scoreless first leg at Anfield.

The Gunners enjoyed firm control of the first 15 minutes, as they dominated possession and worked the ball into hugely uncomfortable areas inside the Reds’ defensive third. Arsenal managed just one scoring chance during their strong spell, though, and they were made to pay rather quickly.

Alexandre Lacazette went inches from grabbing the game’s opening goal in the 5th minute, when he deftly lifted the ball over the wall on a free kick 20 yards out. With precious little time to get the ball up and down, Lacazette’s job was made even more difficult by the slightest helping touch onto the crossbar from Caoimhin Kelleher.

The balance of play began to shift with Liverpool’s first scoring chance in the 13th minute, as Joel Matip turned the ball home after Fabinho headed it goal-ward from a corner kick. Matip was, however, in an offside position when the ball came of Fabinho’s head.

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Six minutes later, Jota gave Liverpool the lead as he cut inside from the left wing — in place of Sadio Mane (international duty) — beating two defenders before dragging a shot back across his body mis-hitting a slow roller against Aaron Ramsdale’s momentum.

Liverpool looked like they had created the golden chance to go 2-0 up just five minutes into the second half, as Jota streaked toward the end line before cutting the ball back toward the penalty spot for 17-year-old Kaide Gordon. Ramsdale was going to find it difficult to scramble back across the face of goal, but Gordon skied his first-time effort in a massive let-off for the Gunners.

The clinching goal came in the 77th minute, and it was Jota once again. Though, this time the Portuguese star looked like a true center forward, timing his run into acres of space ever so perfectly for Trent Alexander-Arnold to curl an otherworldly ball into his path before lifting the ball over the on-rushing Ramsdale in one swift motion from midfield to the back of the net and, ultimately, Wembley Stadium on Feb. 27.

Even without Mane and Mohamed Salah in the team, Liverpool were thoroughly dominant for the vast majority of the second half. They ebbed and flowed between soaking up light pressure at one end of the field, and probing along the flanks to get Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson behind the Arsenal defense with time and space to cross the ball.

Despite trailing 1-0 in the second leg of a cup semifinal, at home, Arsenal were out-shot 8-5 in the second half (11-7 over 90 minutes) in Arsenal vs Liverpool.

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