Arteta told his re-jigged team to stay in the game and they were rewarded.
They followed the plan, closing spaces with a good defensive performance – resilient, stubborn and well organised. It was un-Arsenal-like – particularly at Anfield, where Liverpool score frequently against the Londoners.
Liverpool’s eight reserves and three first teamers didn’t have enough to break down the Londoners’ shield.
The win provided a timely tonic. Two defeats in the north west in four days would have been damaging.
Arsenal fashioned a good chance in the first ten. Xhaka passed to Pepe who sent it to Willock who found Nketiah – but he wanted more space and time and Adrian got to the ball.
Arsenal were getting everybody back when Liverpool attacked.
Williams pulled back Saka – but like the other night – no foul was given when it seemed obvious.
Pepe went on a good run. Curtis Jones had a shot saved by Leno. Jota elicited a foul off Ceballos just on the edge of the area.
From the cleared free kick, the ball in was met Jota’s head and Leno dived to parry with one hand. It fell invitingly to Minimino whose instant shot hit the cross bar – the nearest Liverpool came to scoring.
Liverpool were on top at the start of the second and looked sharper and more dangerous. A corner was headed on by Grujic and Van Dyke hit it goalwards – but Leno dived and saved.
Pepe drove in the middle – but finished with a tame shot.
Jota drove forward and his shot was deflected for a corner. Grujic shot from outside the area – and Leno saved. Jota beat Kolasinac – but Leno saved – again. Grujic won several headers in the Arsenal area.
At the other end, a cross was stopped by Saka – taken off him by Williams; another cross came in and Holding headed straight at Adrian. Willock ran and crossed but Nketiah headed wide. And then Milner fell and touched the ball in the Liverpool area – but ref Kevin Friend deemed it no penalty.
On the penalties: Milner went to Leno’s left and gave an Arsenal player the finger. Lacazette went right. Wijnaldum went very high to Leno’s left. Soares went to Adrian’s left and just failed to reach it. Minamino went high to Leno’s left as well. Elneny hit it more or less straight at Adrian, who saved. But then Origi hit it straight at Leno. Maitland Niles waited for Adrian to dive and lobbed it down the middle – cool and came back all smiles. Jones hit it into the corner. Pepe sent Adrian the wrong way. Wilson’s penalty was saved low down by Leno. Willock ‘s shot was blocked but crept over the line – giving Arsenal victory.
Bernd Leno said: “It was a very tough game. We made same changes. We wanted to go through to try and win another trophy.
“It is not easy to come to same place with the disappointment. We analysed the game and aimed to keep our heads up.
On his situation, he said: “The club gave me the feeling I am the Number One and will be the Number One and it is up to me to prove it.” He certainly did that.
Jurgen Klopp said: “If there would have been a winner in 90 minutes, it should have been us. I liked other parts of game. It was a proper performance but was lacking goals.
“We mixed it up in decisive positions. There were some really good performance but we lacked the last pass. The teams did a lot of hard work closing each other down.”
Mikel Arteta said: “I am really happy with the performance. We corrected a few things from Monday. Controlled more things. We competed better, the level of aggression we had. We pressed them really high and it was exceptional.
“I really have belief in Bernd. I know him really well and what he can give us. We didn’t want Emiliano Martínez to go but it was probably the right thing for both parties to do.
“To come here and play with the determination and courage is a big step forward for the team. They are on the right path.
“The gap towards Liverpool is still big. We will keep improving to try and reach their level.”
Liverpool: Adrián, Williams, Williams, van Dijk, Milner, Jones, Grujic, H Wilson, Salah, Minamino (Booked at 15) Jota
Substitutes: Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Gomez, Robertson, Origi, Kelleher, Elliott
Arsenal: Leno, Cédric Soares, Holding, Magalhães, Kolasinac, Ceballos, Xhaka, Saka, Willock, Nketiah, Pépé
Substitutes: Tierney, Lacazette, Rúnarsson, Maitland-Niles, David Luiz, Nelson, Elneny