Arsenal 2.35/4 v Liverpool 3.412/5; The Draw 3.65
Thursday 6 January, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports Football
Positives for Arsenal despite defeat
Arsenal will be looking to bounce back against Liverpool on Thursday, after a five match winning streak came to an end on New Year’s Day.
The Gunners were beaten 2-1 at home by Manchester City in their last outing. They were ahead by half-time through a goal by Bukayo Saka, but the game changed quickly in the second-half, when Manchester City converted a penalty and then Gabriel Magalhaes was sent off for two rapid-fire bookings, just two minutes later. It looked as if Arsenal were going to hold on for a point, only for City to score the winner in the 93rd minute.
As heartbreaking as that result was, the performance was encouraging. Fourth placed Arsenal had been outplayed when they previously met the three teams above them in the Premier League this season, but on this occasion, they came very close to getting a result.
Mikel Arteta was watching that game at home having tested positive for Covid-19, as was Calum Chambers. The manager is set to return to the dugout in this EFL Cup semi-final. Arteta will be without Mohamed Elneny, Thomas Partey, Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who are all at the African Cup of Nations. Sead Kolasinac is injured.
Liverpool without key players
Liverpool are also set to be impacted by a loss of key players who have departed for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Naby Keita, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah have all gone to play in the tournament, leaving Liverpool short of attacking options. At a time when Liverpool are fighting to remain in the title race, it could prove to be a fatal blow.
After their 2-2 draw with Chelsea on Sunday, third placed Liverpool are eleven points behind the Premier League leaders Manchester City, albeit with a game in hand. Cup competitions could be Liverpool’s most realistic hope of honours this season, though Jurgen Klopp’s hasn’t always taken the EFL Cup and FA Cup particularly seriously.
With Liverpool facing Shrewsbury in the FA Cup at the weekend, Klopp can afford to pick his strongest available side here, though he has a lot of players missing. Along with the AFCON absentees, Liverpool will be without the injured Nat Phillips, Harvey Elliott, Thiago Alcantara, Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi. Alisson, Joel Matip and Roberto Firmino were all unavailable against Chelsea, having tested positive for Covid-19.
Gunners can take first-leg advantage
Arsenal are the favourites at 2.35/4, with Liverpool at 3.412/5 and the draw at 3.65.
With home advantage and Liverpool missing so many players, it’s perhaps no surprise to see that the hosts are the favourites in this first-leg. Arsenal are not the overall favourites to progress though, with Liverpool at 1.728/11 in the To Qualify market, ahead of Arsenal at 2.3611/8.
Liverpool will be light in attack, but can still put out a strong defence and midfield. If Arsenal win, it will be a tight victory, so consider the 1.75/7 for them in the Draw No Bet market.
Low scoring game likely
Arsenal’s last five games in the Premier League has seen them concede just three goals and keep three clean sheets. With Arsenal defending better and Liverpool perhaps lacking a cutting edge, this should be a low scoring game.