A place in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals will be on the line when Liverpool welcome Arsenal to Anfield on Wednesday night.
Wednesday will be a night of two heavyweight clashes in the Carabao Cup, as teams continue to fight for the remaining places in the quarter-finals. One such fixture will see Liverpool play hosts to Arsenal at Anfield, looking to continue their unbeaten run in domestic football.
The first three months of the season have been a case of relentless pursuit of the Premier League title for Liverpool. Showing a lot of grit and desire, the Reds have grabbed a healthy lead atop the table, which they preserved with a 2-1 win over Tottenham this past weekend. The focus now turns to the Carabao Cup fourth round, where they reached thanks to a 2-0 win over MK Dons.
Arsenal, on the other hand, qualified for the Last 16 stage courtesy a 5-0 rout of Nottingham Forest. Elsewhere in domestic football, however, the Gunners have been struggling to string together a run of results, having managed to win just two of their last eight Premier League games.
Liverpool and Arsenal have already faced each other once this season, with the Merseyside club cruising to a 3-1 win back in August. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the Carabao Cup encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Jurgen Klopp does not have any fresh injury concerns to contend with ahead of the visit of Arsenal. On Wednesday, the Liverpool boss will continue to remain without three first-team players, with the absence of Joel Matip being particularly concerning.
The Cameroonian defender was initially thought to be a short-term absentee due to a knock. But, the latest reports suggest that Matip might be unavailable for the foreseeable future. Apart from the central defender, Nathaniel Clyne (knee) and Xherdan Shaqiri (calf) are also sidelined, while Mohamed Salah will be fully rested following an injury scare late on against Tottenham.
Klopp, meanwhile, is likely to ring in the changes when Arsenal take on his side. Adrian ought to return between the posts, allowing Alisson Becker a rare rest. The defensive line might be in for a complete shuffle as well. With Matip out injured, Dejan Lovren is likely to become Virgil van Dijk’s regular partner until the Cameroonian returns.
As a result, it is likely that Lovren could be rested on Wednesday, with Sepp van den Berg starting alongside Joe Gomez at the heart of the Liverpool defence. Ki-Jana Hoever is unavailable due to his duties with the Dutch Under-17 side, meaning Neco Williams could make his senior Reds debut as their right-back, with James Milner starting on the opposite flank.
The experience factor comes in midfield, with Adam Lallana being deployed as the holding midfielder, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita will reprise the no. 8 roles, leaving Pedro Chirivella and Herbie Kane as possible backup options.
Divock Origi will be the senior figure in attack, with Rhian Brewster leading the line for Liverpool. The final spot in the side will be contested between Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones, with the latter likely to get the nod against Arsenal.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Adrian; Williams, Gomez, van den Berg, Milner; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana, Keita; Jones, Brewster, Origi
Reiss Nelson is the only player who will not be available to make the trip to Liverpool. Unai Emery, though, is expected to make wholesale changes to the side that started against Crystal Palace, just like his Liverpool counterpart.
Emiliano Martinez is the designated goalkeeper for cup competitions and the 27-year-old should come into the side in place of Bernd Leno. Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney and Rob Holding will continue to regain sharpness post recoveries from their respective injuries. Holding will likely have Shkodran Mustafi as his partner at the heart of the Arsenal defence.
Up ahead in midfield, Granit Xhaka is unlikely to take the field as Emery continues to control the damage from the controversial incident during the game against Crystal Palace, when the Arsenal captain reacted inappropriately. Matteo Guendouzi might make way as well, with Lucas Torreira and Joe Willock expected to come into the side.
Mesut Ozil last featured for Arsenal in the Carabao Cup win over Nottingham Forest last month. But, the German playmaker is unlikely to come into the side against Liverpool, with Emile Smith Rowe expected to reprise the No. 10 role. Bukayo Saka and Ainsley Maitland-Niles will be the two wide men, while Gabriel Martinelli will be Arsenal’s central striker.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Martinez; Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Tierney; Torreira, Willock; Maitland-Niles, Smith Rowe, Saka; Martinelli
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last nine matches against Arsenal in all competitions (W5 D4). The Reds last enjoyed a longer such run in February 2000 (14 games).
- However, in the League Cup, Arsenal have an upper hand against Liverpool in recent record. In their last three games against Liverpool in the competition, Arsenal have won 2 and lost one.
- Liverpool have lost four of their last five matches in the Carabao Cup (W1), with their only success coming in the third round against MK Dons.
- Jurgen Klopp has led Liverpool in 13 games against Arsenal, winning 6 and drawing 4, while losing 3.
- Jurgen Klopp also edges his head-to-head record against Unai Emery, having won two of the four games in which he has come up versus the Spaniard’s sides (D1 L1).
Player to Watch
It has been a difficult season for Torreira, who has lost his place as a regular in the Arsenal first-team setup. Matteo Guendouzi and Granit Xhaka have been preferred to the Uruguayan midfielder, who has been reduced to a bit-part role so far this season.
But, in the wake of Xhaka’s controversial actions this past weekend, an opportunity might present itself to Torreira. A strong performance against Liverpool, irrespective of the final result, might just go a long way in winning Unai Emery over, with the pressure mounting on the Arsenal manager to strip Xhaka of the club captaincy. A big game beckons.
Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal
Both sides are expected to be heavily rotated for their Carabao Cup third round tie. As a result, the game could be quite an open affair, with chances coming aplenty. Arsenal might have a bit more experience in their side than Liverpool.
But, Jurgen Klopp has been rigorously imbibing a winning mentality in his squad, something that is sorely missing from the Gunners’ unit. And, that is a quality that might be what it takes to tip the scales in favour of Liverpool on Wednesday. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for the Reds, a result that mounts the pressure further on Unai Emery.