Liverpool vs Arsenal preview: Reds hoping to cash in on Carabao Cup switch

Jurgen Klopp’s side have some big-name absentees but they can still beat the Gunners in their rescheduled semi-final, first leg at Anfield on Thursday.

The first leg of this Carabao Cup semi-final was originally due to take place at the Emirates before being cancelled due to a reported Covid outbreak in the Liverpool camp.

Controversially, a big batch of those cases proved to be false positives, news that hasn't gone down at all well with Gunners fans.

That game at the Emirates is now due to be played on January 20 and will ultimately decide who plays Chelsea or Tottenham in February's final at Wembley.

When: Thursday, January 13, 19:45 GMT

Where: Anfield

Follow this game via our score centre

Mixed fortunes for sides in the FA Cup

It's certainly a bone of contention that the original tie was called off as Liverpool now have players back who wouldn't have been available.

If there is an upside for Arsenal, it's that they now get to play the second leg at home: something usually seen as an advantage.

The duo go into the game on the back of very different FA Cup experiences.

A Liverpool team featuring four teenage starters fell behind against Shrewsbury before recovering to win 4-1 at Anfield.

One of the youngsters, 17-year-old Kaide Gordon, became the Reds' youngest scorer in the FA Cup by slotting home a lovely equaliser.

Brazilian duo Fabinho (2) and Roberto Firmino added the others to seal an ultimately comfortable win.

Arsenal headed to Nottingham Forest having lost just a single third-round tie in the last 25 years.

Mikel Arteta suffered defeat at the City Ground

But that became two in 26 (both to Forest!) after a limp display and 1-0 defeat at the City Ground.

Forest took the lead in the second half and the response from the Gunners was non-existent. It was hard to argue with the final scoreline.

It came on the back of an impressive performance against Manchester City - even though they lost that match 2-1 - so surprised many who thought Arsenal were a team very much on the up.

Last three meetings

Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal (November 20, 2021)

The fast-improving Gunners had the chance to climb above Liverpool with victory at Anfield but the hosts brushed them aside in convincing fashion.

Sadio Mane broke the deadlock in the 39th minute when heading home Trent Alexander-Arnold's free-kick and Diogo Jota added a second on 52 following an Arsenal error.

Liverpool put the game out of sight with a third from Mo Salah on 73 and a fourth a few minutes later from substitute Takumi Minamino with his first touch of the ball.

Arsenal 0-3 Liverpool (April 3, 2021)

The wobbling Reds had lost six of their last 10 games coming into this one but shot down the Gunners with comparative ease.

Goalless at the break, Liverpool hit the gas in the second half and moved into a 2-0 lead via strikes from Jota (64) and Salah (68).

Jota helped himself to another eight minutes from time, leaving Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta to admit he was "in shock" at how poorly his side had played.

Liverpool 0-0 Arsenal (October 1, 2020)

Most games between this pair feature plenty of goals and the previous seasons in this same competition they played out an incredible 5-5 draw before Liverpool won in a shootout.

This last-16 clash at Anfield was the polar opposite: no goals and Arsenal winning 5-4 on spot-kicks.

With both sides much changed, it was a stop-start affair and Arsenal goalkeeper and after no goals in 90 minutes, Bernd Leno proved the hero in the shootout as he saved from Divock Origi and Harry Wilson

Past 10 meetings

Liverpool wins: 5

Draws: 4

Arsenal wins: 1

Liverpool scored: 26

Arsenal scored: 12

Changes aplenty but Liverpool should have the edge

While the early rounds of the Carabao Cup are an ideal chance to give squad players a run out, when it gets to the semis the outlook often changes. Managers can eye a Wembley final and go stronger.

That was likely the intention for both teams here but such plans have been compromised.

Liverpool are without Salah, Mane and Naby Keita after the trio headed off to the African Cup of Nations.

Naby Keita, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are all absent

In addition, possible starters Thiago and Divock Origi are also set to be missing with injury while Alexander-Arnold registered a genuine Covid positive.

Arsenal have similar holes to plug due to AFCON duty: Thomas Partey, Nicolas Pepe, Mohamed Elneny and, if he'd been picked, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are all not available.

There are also injury concerns over Emile Smith Rowe and Takehiro Tomiyasu.

That's plenty of big names out and makes it a harder one to assess had all the stars been on show.

Arsenal haven't scored against Liverpool in the last three meetings so that's significant as Klopp's system (whatever the players) clearly troubles them.

It's also worth noting how well mix-and-match Liverpool teams have performed this season.

They've reached this stage with mash-ups of regulars, squad players and youngsters and that combination also helped them beat Shrewsbury.

In addition, under-strength Liverpool line-ups still managed to win their final two Champions League games when the group had already been wrapped up.

Takumi Minamino in action for Liverpool

Overall, Liverpool seem more able to get by when the big stars are absent.

Where the goals might come from in Liverpool vs Arsenal

Takumi Minamino has four Carabao Cup goals for Liverpool this season while his one Premier League strike came against the Gunners.

He made his return from injury in the FA Cup tie at the weekend, coming on for the second half, and Klopp has a lot of faith in him.

Brazilian Fabinho slotted home a spot-kick against Shrewsbury and even scored from open play.

Fabinho could be huge value

First-choice taker Salah is away so if usual stand-in James Milner doesn't start, Fabinho will likely be given the job again.

Milner could play but there's a chance Klopp goes with Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and fit-again Curtis Jones as his middle three.

For Arsenal, Eddie Nketiah is the leading scorer in this competition having netted five goals in his three appearances.

That includes a hat-trick against Sunderland last time.

But it's a step up to score against a strong Liverpool defence and he fluffed his one big chance against Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

His poor display there could see him make way in the Gunners attack.

READ MORE: January 2022 Premier League transfer window ins, outs and latest signings

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