Paul Merson feels Aaron Ramsdale was ‘gambling’ with where Diogo Jota would shoot for Liverpool’s first goal in their 2-0 win at Arsenal in the Carabao Cup semi-final second-leg.
The Gunners bowed out of the EFL Cup on Thursday night after two goals from Jota at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal have not reached the final of the competition since finishing as runners-up to Manchester City in 2017/18. While Liverpool are in their first since 2015/16.
Arsenal had managed to hold Liverpool to a goalless draw with 10-men in the first-leg at Anfield last week. But Jota ensured Jurgen Klopp was not lacking any attacking intent while star forwards Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are competing at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Jota snuck his first – albeit with a slightly scuffed shot – into the net after the Liverpool ace deceived Arsenal’s Ramsdale. The Portuguese drifted in off the wing as he tormented right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu, before shaping to find the far corner but instead cut the ball low.
Ramsdale positioned himself to dive for the post if Jota had targeted his left-hand corner. But by doing so, was flat-footed and could not scramble his feet in time to get down low.
Merson criticises Ramsdale role in first Jota, Liverpool goal vs Arsenal
Merson claimed on Sky Sports (20/01, 21:59) Ramsdale could have done more to stop Jota scoring Liverpool’s first at Arsenal on Thursday night. Instead, the £30m summer signing from Sheffield United took a big risk by guessing where the Portuguese wanted to target.
“I personally think he can [do better], I think he’s gambling,” Merson said. “I think he thinks Jota’s going to put it in the left-hand corner, and he’s cut back the other way. It’s not that far beside him, he’s just wrong-footed. It’s a hard one because he’s been brilliant.”
Jota’s run off the wing to waltz into Arsenal’s box before beating Ramsdale highlighted the Liverpool forward’s threat. But the Gunners failed to respond, and he would score a second following the break by lobbing Ramsdale after an inch-perfect Trent Alexander-Arnold pass.