Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has described knocking Premier League champions Liverpool out of the Carabao Cup as a ‘big step’ forward that puts the Gunners on the ‘right path’ with regard to eventually closing the gap between the two clubs.
Arsenal finished 43 points behind Liverpool in the final Premier League table last season, yet it is the Gunners who have prevailed in three of the last four meetings between the two, including two penalty shootout victories this season alone.
Arteta’s side won 5-4 on penalties at Anfield to book a place in the quarter finals of the Carabao Cup, with goalkeeper Bernd Leno a hero for saving two Liverpool spot-kicks.
It was a rotated Liverpool side from the one that won 3-1 at Anfield when the sides met at Anfield in a Premier League fixture at the start of the week, but Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk were both still in the starting lineup. It was also a rotated Arsenal XI, with starts for Joe Willock, Cedric, Nicolas Pepe and Eddie Nketiah, and no Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
“It is the third time that we’ve played against the best team in Europe in the last eight weeks and to come to Anfield and play with the determination and courage that we’ve done is a big step for the team,” Arteta told Sky Sports after the contest.
“I told them after Monday that we made a big step forward. We have a lot of things to learn from an exceptional team, but we are on the right path, I think.
“I keep saying the gap to them is big, but the players believe that we can beat them every time we play against them and we keep improving to try and reach that level.”
Arsenal are proving to be cup experts under Arteta, having won the FA Cup against the odds last season, and their reward is a last eight tie against Manchester City in December.
Source : 90min