Arsenal 3.711/4 v Liverpool 2.1211/10; The Draw 3.814/5
Thursday 20 January, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports Football
Arsenal selection problems continue
Arsenal’s first job as they look to reach the final of the EFL Cup is to raise a team for this match.
Over the weekend Arsenal successfully applied to postpone the North London derby against arch rivals Spurs. This drew a lot of criticism, not least because Arsenal chose to loan out Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Folarin Balogun last week, with Pablo Mari also said to be close to a loan move to Udinese.
There have been rumours that this match will also be postponed. It was originally intended to be the first-leg of this tie, only for Liverpool to successfully request for the game to be delayed. Instead, the match at Anfield became the first-leg, with Arsenal doing very well to emerge with a 0-0 draw, having been reduced to ten men when Granit Xhaka was sent off after only 24 minutes.
Xhaka is one of the players unavailable, as he serves his suspension. Mohamed Elneny, Thomas Partey and Nicolas Pepe are at AFCON and though Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has returned from international duty, concerns over his health ensure that he will not play. Martin Odegaard missed the first-leg with Covid, while Cedric Soares, Sean Kolasinac, Calum Chambers, Emile Smith-Rowe and Bukayo Saka are all doubts with injuries.
Liverpool find goals at the weekend
Though Liverpool will have been disappointed to have drawn at Anfield, it creates a situation where they know exactly what they have to do in this second-leg.
With away goals not counting double, Liverpool need to win at the Emirates to progress to the final. A draw after 90 minutes would see the tie decided by extra time and then penalties, if needed.
Though Liverpool couldn’t find a breakthrough in the first-leg, there was reason to be encouraged by their performance over the weekend. Liverpool beat Brentford 3-0 at home, with Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Takumi Minamino all getting on the scoresheet.
It’s important that players step up in the absence of regular goalscorers Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, who are both away on AFCON duty along with Naby Keita. Nat Phillips, Harvey Elliott and Divock Origi are all definitely out with injury, while Oxlade-Chamberlain is a doubt after he picked up an ankle injury in the win over Brentford.
Cautiously back Liverpool
Liverpool are the favourites to win in 90 minutes at 2.1211/10, with Arsenal at 3.711/4 and the draw at 3.814/5.
That looks like a fair enough price for Liverpool, who seem likely to be able to field a stronger side than Arsenal will. They waited till too late in the first-leg to really put the pressure on and make their numerical supremacy count. With this essentially a one-off match now, there will be no time for such patience.
If you want to back the visitors in a more cautious fashion, Liverpool are 1.684/6 in the To Qualify market, with Arsenal at 2.3411/8.
Gunners can keep defence tight again
While Arsenal have a lot of players out, they should be able to field a strong defence. They defended brilliantly in the first-leg and will Liverpool lacking the cutting edge of Mane and Salah, there’s every reason to think that this will be another low scoring game.