A place in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup will be on the line when Liverpool welcome Arsenal to Anfield in a fourth round tie on Thursday.
We are nearly at the end of the latest stage of the Carabao Cup, with three matches on show on Thursday, when the curtains fall on round four. The marquee fixture in this round will be played at Anfield, where Liverpool will be playing hosts to Arsenal for a second time this week.
Liverpool were off to a sluggish start this season after they beat Leeds United by the skin of their teeth in the opening match of their 2020/21 Premier League campaign. Since then, though, the Reds have made massive improvements, comfortably beating both Chelsea and Arsenal in the league while also handing a 7-2 mauling to Lincoln City in the last round of the Carabao Cup.
Arsenal, on the other hand, have been largely convincing at the onset of the 2020/21 season. The Gunners came into their Premier League campaign on the back of an impressive win over Liverpool in the FA Community Shield. Mikel Arteta’s men have impressed with fairly solid victories against Fulham, West Ham United and Leicester City (Carabao Cup).
Liverpool and Arsenal have already locked horns this term, with the Reds coming from behind to beat the Gunners 3-1 in the Premier League. 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 has a number of fresh roster issues hampering his preparations ahead of his sides’s latest fixture. Against Arsenal on Thursday, the Liverpool manager will be without as many as five first-team players.
It is expected that Liverpool will ring in the changes against Arsenal, although Joel Matip and Kostas Tsimikas are both facing a spell on the sidelines. Midfield will also give big selection headaches, with Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out injured, while Thiago Alcantara is recovering from COVID-19.
The formation should closely resemble the one picked last weekend, with Liverpool reverting to a 4-2-3-1. Adrian should start between the sticks in place of Alisson Becker. In front of him, Neco Williams and James Milner ought to be the two full-backs, with the latter coming in to replace Tsimikas.
Williams, in particular, will be out to prove a point after being subjected to slurs following the win over Lincoln City last game mein. At the heart of the Liverpool defence, Virgil van Dijk could start again, with Billy Koumetio coming into the team to make his Reds’ debut.
Up ahead in midfield, Curtis Jones and Marko Grujic will pair up in the double pivot, with Takumi Minamino, who is seemingly on the up at Liverpool, reprising the no. 10 role. Minamino will play off Divock Origi, who leads the line against Arsenal. Finally, Xherdan Shaqiri and Diogo Jota ought to be the two wide men for the hosts.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Adrian; Williams, Koumetio, van Dijk, Milner; Jones, Grujic; Shaqiri, Minamino, Jota; Origi
Much like his counterpart in the Liverpool dugout, Mikel Arteta has a raft of injury concerns to deal with ahead of his side’s latest fixture. On Thursday, the Arsenal manager could be without as many as seven first-team players due to various fitness issue.
Gabriel Martinelli is the only Arsenal player in the treatment room at the moment, as per the official team news from the Gunners. Apart from the Brazilian, the likes of Sokratis, Cedric Soares, Shkodran Mustafi, Pablo Mari, Calum Chambers and Emile Smith Rowe have resumed some form of training, but none of them is likely to be fit enough to feature.
Arteta should make wholesale changes to the side that started against Liverpool earlier this week, with hardly any player expected to be retained. Gabriel Magalhaes was omitted from the starting lineup but should return for the Carabao Cup tie, with William Saliba and Sead Kolasinac being his partners in the back-three.
In goal, Alex Runarsson is in line to make his Arsenal debut, with Bernd Leno given a breather. Up ahead, Dani Ceballos will return to the starting lineup, with the Spaniard tasked with pulling the strings from the middle. Ceballos will likely be partnered by Joe Willock in midfield, with Bukayo Saka and Ainsley Maitland-Niles being the wing-backs for the Gunners.
Finally, in attack, Eddie Nketiah will be given the chance to lead the line for Arsenal against Liverpool, with Alexandre Lacazette being given a rest. Reiss Nelson and Nicolas Pepe should be the two wide men, with Pepe, in particular, having a point to prove against Liverpool.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Runarsson; Saliba, Gabriel, Kolasinac; Maitland-Niles, Willock, Ceballos, Saka; Pepe, Nketiah, Nelson
- This is the second consecutive season that Liverpool will be taking on Arsenal in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup. The Reds progressed to the quarter-finals, winning the penalty shootout after the game ended in a 5-5 draw.
- Thursday’s game will see Liverpool take on Arsenal in the Carabao Cup for the 16th time, making it the most played fixture in the competition’s history.
- Arsenal have progressed to the next stage from 14 of their previous 17 Carabao Cup fourth round ties.
- Liverpool’s last three Carabao Cup matches have seen 24 goals scored (12 both for and against), with 90 shots attempted across three games.
- Divock Origi has scored nine goals in his last seven starts in the Carabao Cup, including a brace against Arsenal in last season’s fourth round.
Player to Watch
For quite some time now, Divock Origi has had his Liverpool future up in the air, with rumours of a possible summer exit doing the rounds for a long while. A transfer, though, is not yet sealed and if the Belgian is indeed set for a departure, he would like to bow out in style.
Origi has been extremely consistent in the Carabao Cup, scoring nine goals in seven starts in the competition. If he can turn up for the umpteenth time for Liverpool in a crunch situation, the Reds could be on their way to the quarter-finals again.
Liverpool 1-2 Arsenal
This is a game that should have some really fine margins. With neither team playing their strongest eleven, this one should be a more closely-contested affair, unlike the match earlier this week. But, with Nicolas Pepe and Eddie Nketiah desperate to get their places back as regulars, Arsenal might just have the slightest of edges over Liverpool.
That Mikel Arteta has also made Arsenal a fearsome prospect in cup competitions works in favour of the visitors. Liverpool, on the other hand, should be in the game all throughout, making it difficult for their visitors to impose themselves at any point in the game. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for the Gunners.