Liverpool v Arsenal
Thursday 13 January, 19:45 kick-off
Live on Sky Sports
After the postponement last week, Anfield now hosts the first leg of this Carabao Cup semi-final with Liverpool hosting Arsenal for a place at Wembley.
Covid saw the legs switched around, but there is still plenty of injury, illness and AFCON absences to make this a complicated tie to pick the bones out of.
But we’ll try and cover the big issues in our Game of the Day feature while also providing you with a couple of OddsBoost selections that YOU can have boosted by the Betfair traders.
And choose wisely, as we’ve already had 11/2, 13/2 and 7/1 winners in the last week….
Klopp’s Reds on rare cup run
The League Cup final was Jurgen Klopp’s first major game at Liverpool just four months after he joined Anfield, but he’s usually played second-string sides in the domestic competitions due to a small squad and bigger priorities in the league and Champions League.
With Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane away on international duty, Klopp will have to turn to the likes of Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi (if fit) in any case even if he was planning on naming a stronger line-up than usual.
And this may now be a bigger target given how far Man City are in front in the title race, so you can expect some of the big guns to get a run out, as if there’s one minor criticism Klopp comes in for it’s that he hasn’t actually landed too many trophies in his time – even though he’s grabbed the big two.
Jurgen Klopp on winning silverware:
“We are here to win trophies and that’s a trophy. We are actually quite determined to get through this.” pic.twitter.com/PyU1jTWI2B
? Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) January 12, 2022
There’s also just a little wobble in form that Liverpool would like to get over, following 2-2 draws with Chelsea and Spurs and a head-scratching defeat at Leicester in their last three league games causing them to just fall off City’s relentless pace.
It’s usually the throwaway competition for Klopp, but right now it feels like it could be a whole lot bigger for him and his season.
Arteta out to prove a point
Mikel Arteta was an angry man after his Arsenal side’s dreadful display against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup, and he’ll want to see a big response from his side as they make the trip to one of their least favoured away grounds.
Although it was Liverpool who had the first leg postponed, it may have done Arsenal a favour as they’ll now get the play the crucial second leg at the Emirates – they just need to get back to north London with something to play for.
? Liverpool FC News (@LivEchoLFC) January 12, 2022
As they’ve got a shocking record at Anfield against Liverpool’s first team, albeit with some success in the League Cup in visits in the last two years.
Arteta won the FA Cup within months of taking the job, and adding a second trophy would just keep the momentum ticking along nicely as he looks to get the Gunners back on the top table in the Premier League.
In a way it’s an ideal test – and a two-legged victory over one of the league’s big guns would go a lot further in terms of confidence around the entire club than merely bagging a place in the final.
Head-to-head stats to know
This is the most played fixture in League Cup history and it’s finely balanced with each side winning six of the previous 12 encounters – so who will make it lucky 13?
It’s also the third straight year that they’ve been drawn together in this and although each side has a penalty victory the two games were poles apart – the first being a 5-5 thriller and the second a 0-0 draw.
The last time two top-flight sides met three years running in the League Cup was in 1991 when Nottingham Forest drew Coventry for the third time.
Excluding pens, Liverpool have lost just one of the eight home League Cup games they’ve had against the Gunners, which came in 2007 when Julio Baptista scored four in a 6-3 victory. The Reds have had four wins and three draws in the other seven.
In terms of League Cup semi-finals, Liverpool have been in a whopping 17 and have gone through 12 times with just five defeats – although two of those have come in their last three appearances, against Chelsea in 2015 and Southampton two years later.
The Gunners have lost a joint-record seven League Cup semi-final ties, but they’ve been experts at getting through more recently as they’ve made the final in three of the last four contests.
Best bets and OddsBoost
Liverpool have scored more goals against Arsenal (43) than any other side under Jurgen Klopp’s tenure, and there should be more goals here again given the last five League Cup ties between the two have seen 28 goals – and that’s including a 0-0!
Arsenal are also top scorers in this season’s competition with 16 so all things being considered you’d be quite comfortable taking 15/8 to go over 3.5 goals in the contest – especially if you throw in a few changes to the teams here and there.
Last season’s League Cup blank is the only clean sheet Arsenal have kept at Anfield in the last 11 visits – but they’ve also scored in nine of those 11 matches so you need to tag on ‘both teams to score’ to almost any bet you’re having here.
? Carabao Cup (@Carabao_Cup) January 9, 2022
For the record, Liverpool to win and both teams to score is 5/2 and the favoured wager in the outright markets.
It’s also 5/2 for Liverpool to score three goals or more and there’s certainly enough statistical evidence to back that up – as you’d have collected in nine of the last 11 times Arsenal have played at Anfield.
Gunners striker Eddie Nketiah didn’t impress at Forest but with five goals he’s top scorer in the competition and has 10 in nine League Cup appearances, so should be a threat if selected.
Nketiah is an 11/5 chance to score at Anfield, with only Alexandre Lacazette ahead of him in the betting for an Arsenal goal at 2/1.
We’re still in the guessing game phase for line-ups given the Covid situation, but if Roberto Firmino plays he has a fine record for scoring against Arsenal and is 8/5 to add another.
If Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scores against his former side at 4/1 then Liverpool will be a great bet to win as the Reds have won all 14 games in which he’s scored in.
Diogo Jota is also in line for a game and with four goals for Liverpool in four games against Arsenal he’ll be a popular 7/5 anytime scorer shout and a leading fancy for first goal at 7/2.
With Divock Origi out injured, Takumi Minamino should get some game time and if he starts he’s another one worth looking at to score at 5/2 given his numbers. He’s got six goals in five League Cup games with a goal every 75 minutes on average.
He also scored against Arsenal in the league in November and is a 6/1 shot to get the first goal.
But it’s Jota who gets the nod in one of our two selected Bet Builders that YOU can vote to have enhanced by the Betfair traders, so keep your eyes peeled on social media.