Liverpool missed plenty of chances but still did enough to guarantee them a spot in the quarter-finals of the English League Cup, beating Tottenham Hotpsur 2-1 at Anfield. Daniel Sturridge scored both the goals for the Reds, who were wasteful in front of goals and could have won by a much bigger margin had they showed more imagination in the final third.
Rafael Benitez's Newcastle United flattened 10-man Preston North End during their 6-0 win at St. James' Park. Leeds United, also booked their place in the final eight after beating Norwich City 3-2 in a penalty shootout. Meanwhile, at the Emirates, Arsenal strolled past Reading courtesy of an Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain brace.
Liverpool win battle of experimental sides
Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino fielded several rank newcomers in their side, and it perhaps took the sheen off the contest even before a ball was kicked at Anfield. These are two sides with ambitions for the League title. Think about the possibility of Pep Guardiola fielding Tosin Adarabiyo or Jose Mourinho handing out a debut to Axel Tuanzebe in the Manchester derby tomorrow.
In this contest, it was a case of a handful of big players compensating for the lack of top level exposure elsewhere on the pitch. Giorginio Wijnaldum and Daniel Sturridge showed a telepathic understanding on the pitch with the latter accounting for both the goals his side scored. Tottenham Hotspur were simply overwhelmed at the back and the Reds tirelessly raided the opposition box, but were woeful with their finishing. Vincent Janssen got one back for Tottenham Hotspur from the penalty spot late in the game but Klopp's side held on to their lead.
Chamberlain's alive and kicking
Four years ago, Arsenal came back from 0-4 down to win 7-5 against Reading in the same competition. This game was far from that epic battle but Arsene Wenger got a statement from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has suffered from a lack of first-team opportunities in recent times.
The Arsenal winger scored two well taken goals to help his side progress to the last eight. Chamberlain's second goal was the highlight, shooting from 25 yards out into the bottom. Manchester United legend Jaap Stam's side's defence were nervy and decisive. Predictably, Arsene Wenger handed out starts to several young hopefuls such as Rob Holding, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, and goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez. Summer purchase Lucas Perez also took part but an injury robbed him of the last 18 minutes of the game, and was replaced by academy graduate Chris Willock.
Liverpool 2 (Daniel Sturridge x 2) beat Tottenham Hotspur 1 (Vincent Janssen)
Arsenal 2 (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain X 2) beat Reading
Newcastle United 6 (Aleksandar Mitrovic x 2, Mohamed Diame x 2, Matt Ritchie, Ayoze Perez) beat Preston North End 0
Bristol City 1 (Lee Tomlin) lose to Hull City 2 (Harry Maguire, Michael Dawson)
Leeds United 2 (Marcus Antonsson, Chris Wood) beat Norwich City 2 (Alex Pritchard, Nelson Oliviera), win 3-2 on penalties