MIKEL ARTETA saluted Arsenal’s band of brothers as his ten-man team pulled off an Anfield shut-out in their Carabao Cup semi-final.
Granit Xhaka’s first-half red card for a foul on Diogo Jota left the Gunners to play with a man down for 66 minutes.
But they still restricted Liverpool to just one shot on target all night to leave next Thursday’s return leg on a knife edge.
Arteta said: “The players revelled in the situation and showed great fight, determination, attitude and brotherhood.
“You could see the emotion they were playing with and they never gave up. To survive here that long with ten men is extremely difficult against this opponent.
“I said to them before the game that you need a certain attitude to play here because in difficult moments you have to act rather than react because then it becomes really complicated.
“We played the game we had to play which isn’t our game but we do not have any midfielders in the squad so whatever we did was not going to be natural.
“We played with a midfield three of Martinelli, Lonkonga and Saka and they have never played in that formation in their lives.
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“But it doesn’t matter about the formation. Tonight was all about the attitude of the player and the quality of their decision making.”
Man of the match Ben White admitted: “It wasn’t ideal to have that red card so early but Granit is looking at the ball and he doesn’t know where the man is.
“It’s hard enough to come here with 11 men but there is so much fight in this team and we showed that tonight. We dug deep and got the result we needed.”
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp claimed that the absence of star strikers Mo Salah and Sadio Mane as well as a number of players returning from false positive Covid tests had affected his team.
He said: “It’s strange because even without the symptoms the boys who came back were not exactly the same.
“It’s not an explanation but we have to consider that.
“I would have preferred to score the goal instead of them getting the red card because after that we had to change the system to be more creative and we couldn’t do that because we’re used to some movements that we don’t have right now.
The players revelled in the situation and showed great fight, determination, attitude and brotherhood.
“But it doesn’t mean that we cannot solve this issue and that’s exactly what we will do.
“This tie is only at half-time and I cannot remember any time in my life when I was sitting with 0-0 and thinking we have no chance any more.”
Now weary Arsenal have to pick themselves up for Sunday’s crucial North London derby and Arteta admitted that he is struggling to name a team after Cedric Soares and Calum Chambers were added to his lengthy injury list.
Asked whether the match could be called off, he said: “I don’t know. It’s a possibility in every game because of the amount of issues that everyone is having every week.
“But we always prepare for games thinking we are going to play and if something happens along the way, it is what it is.”