Liverpool v Arsenal | Oppo Insight | BIG Names Missing For Arsenal!

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By Daniel Ghorbal

The success of the club in Europe’s elite competitions in recent seasons has meant that Liverpool have tended to give the Carabao Cup a backseat, but with a two-legged semi final on the horizon with a potential trip to Wembley to face Chelsea in the final, the reds will see this as an opportunity for some much needed domestic silverware.

After the original first leg at the Emirates was postponed last week due to COVID cases in the Liverpool squad, tonight’s match is the first-leg. Originally when the fixtures were planned, the schedule was immensely crowded but because of the circumstances, Klopp undoubtedly has the license to go full strength against what is a depleted Arsenal side.

Obviously Salah, Mane and Keita are missing due to AFCON, but the expectation is that the likes of Alisson, Van Dijk, Fabinho etc. will make rare league cup appearances.

Arsenal’s FA cup defeat at Nottingham Forest on Sunday puts pressure on the Gunners to ensure that they don’t crash out of two cups within succession.

Despite an immensely positive few months whereby an identity has been found, Arsenal are suddenly in a situation where fighting for top 4 could be the only option. Ahead of this first leg, Martin Odegaard, Emile Smith Rowe and Takehiro Tomiyasu are all absent, as well as international call-ups of their own though Pepe, Elneny, Partey and Aubameyang.

Suddenly the options are limited and Arteta is going to have his hand forced at Anfield. The foundation of his success has been a settled eleven to choose, with chemistry and morale on the field seemingly as high as it has been under the Spaniards reign.

The aim for him tonight will simply be to stay in the tie and ensure Liverpool don’t inflict heavy defeat upon their London opposition. The Emirates is bound to a cauldron on noise Thursday for the return leg, especially if the club are able to pick up a positive result at Anfield.

In this exact fixture in the Premier League, it played out as a perfect epitome of what Arsenal are about at stages. They began the game very well and showed their qualities on the ball, but a lapse of control from Arteta on the sidelines completely and that reflected onto the players as they were comprehensively beaten 4-0.

Without some key attacking players, Arsenal will need to be disciplined tonight and remain concentrated. Although the current brand of football is for them to be expansive and dominant, in games of this mould it is imperative to appreciate the opposition and alter the style of performance.

Liverpool will look to gain control of the ball and inflict a high tempo upon the game, especially at home. Some defensive nous and tactical precision from Arsenal could make it difficult for Liverpool, and with the pace and trickery of Martinelli and Saka going forwards, the outlet is always there.

Despite the absentees, Arsenal’s team will still be relatively strong and is more than capable of picking up a positive result, which in this case but even be a narrow defeat. With no away goals in play, the attacking intent might not be as prevalent as usual, but Arteta will be hoping the cue for a fiery Emirates second leg is set.

Predicted XI: Ramsdale, White, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney, Xhaka, Lokonga, Saka, Martinelli, Lacazette, Nketiah (4-2-3-1, Lacazette as a number 10)

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