A goal in each half from Diogo Jota were enough to send us crashing out of the Carabao Cup on a hugely disappointing night at the Emirates.
Having worked so hard at Anfield last week in the first leg of this semi-final to keep the tie in the balance at 0-0, we were unable to make the most of home advantage, and didn't create enough against well organised Liverpool side.
A bright opening quarter of an hour was just about as good as it got for us on the night.
We started on the front with Gabriel Martinelli heavily involved on the left wing. He won two corners in the opening five minutes with his industry and persistence, but it was another set piece that gave us our first opportunity.
Bukayo Saka was fouled just outside the area in a central position, and captain Alexandre Lacazette curled his free-kick against the bar.
We had made all the early running, only for Liverpool to have the ball in the net after 13 minutes. However the vociferous Emirates crowd were relieved to see the offside flag raised against Joel Matip as he scored from close range following a corner.
Seven minutes later though, they had one that did count. Jota ran at Takehiro Tomiyasu on the counter attack, capitalised on a slip from the Japanese full back, then mishit a shot that squirmed into the net from outside the box.
It was very much against the run of play, but after falling behind, we struggled to regain our fluency. The visitors started to enjoy more of the ball, and we failed to threaten as the first half drew to a close.
The second half began with a fine pass over the top from Sambi Lokonga, into the path of Lacazette, but the striker fired over.
Liverpool also blazed a shot over the bar moments later, from an even better position. Kaide Gordon the guilty party from close range after good work again by Jota to outstrip Ben White.
Liverpool came even closer from a corner, when substitute Ibrahima Konate's header thumped against the post.
The game was beginning to get stretched as we went in search of the all-important goal, and we were living on our nerves at times. Martinelli was in the right place in his own box to block a Takumi Minamino shot.
At the other end of the pitch the livewire Brazilian had a rising effort saved at the near post.
Mikel Arteta sent on Thomas Partey and Eddie Nketiah for the final 15 minutes, but it was Liverpool who struck the killer blow.
Jota was the goalscorer again, narrowly beating the offside trap before lifting the ball over the advancing Aaron Ramsdale.
The mountain we now had to climb proved insurmountable, and there was a further blow late on when Partey was sent off for a second bookable offence.
We were able to welcome back Martin Odegaard after he missed the first leg through Covid, while Emile Smith Rowe recovered from a thigh injury to take his place in the starting XI as well. Takehiro Tomiyasu was the other change from the side that started the goalless draw at Anfield last Thursday, replacing Cedric at right back.
Thomas Partey was included on the bench after his Ghana side were knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday, meaning he missed just two games for us while at the tournament in Cameroon.
Eighteen-year-old right back Ryan Alebiosu also took his place among the substitutes.
WHAT IT MEANS
There will be no trip to Wembley for us this season, and all our efforts must now be concentrated on qualifying for European competition through our Premier League placing.
After three successive cup matches, we're back in Premier League action for the first time since New Year's Day, when we host Burnley on Sunday, January 23. Football resumes for us after the winter break with a trip to Wolves on Thursday, February 10.
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