In this postponed first-leg encounter, what will happen when these two titans of English football finally collide, in Liverpool on Thursday night?
Amid controversy around a batch of false-positive coronavirus tests, Liverpool welcome Arsenal to Merseyside for the rescheduled first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final on Thursday evening at Anfield.
Liverpool could supposedly face an investigation into their recent batch of COVID-19 false positives. Such a high number is considered almost impossible! However, a mixture of youth and experience did their talking on the pitch, as Shrewsbury Town fell to a 4-1 defeat in the FA Cup against the Reds at the weekend.
Arteta’s side have enjoyed a smooth cruise into the semis. They have scored a total of 16 goals in four victories against West Bromwich Albion, Wimbledon, Leeds United, and Sunderland. There is now a sense in north London that Arsenal could go on to win their first EFL Cup since the 1992/93 season.
In squad news, Liverpool should welcome Alisson Becker back from COVID-19 this week, while Trent Alexander-Arnold is now the only confirmed positive case in boss, Jürgen Klopp’s ranks.
With the likes of Sadio Mané, Mohamed Salah, and Naby Keïta, all away at AFCON, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Jordan Henderson, Diogo Jota, and Kaide Gordon returning to the first XI this week.
As for Arsenal, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mohamed Elneny, Thomas Partey, and Nicolas Pépé remain either sidelined, or at AFCON, but Gabriel Magalhaes makes a well-timed return from suspension.
Granit Xhaka and Folarin Balogun are expected to miss out owing to positive COVID-19 tests, and if Emile Smith Rowe and Takehiro Tomiyasu are doubtful through injury.
Eddie Nketiah is in free-scoring form in the EFL Cup, but the 22-year-old’s disappointing performances in the FA Cup may lead Arteta to consider recalling Alexandre Lacazette to lead the line.
In a match between two depleted teams, we expect a 1-1 draw on Merseyside. We are predicting both goals to come in the second half, with Klopp’s men breaking the deadlock.
Liverpool possible starting XI:
Alisson; Bradley, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Henderson, Fabinho, Jones; Gordon, Jota, Minamino
Arsenal possible starting XI:
Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney; Lokonga, Patino; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Lacazette