Controversy has blanketed the postponement of the EFL Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Liverpool last week, with the battle at the Emirates pushed back by the COVID-19 outbreak in the Liverpool squad.
After it was revealed that the Reds had dealt with a number of mistakes, the first leg will take place on Thursday at Anfield when the Red Devils and Gunners will finally take the field. Aside from the departures for the Africa Cup of Nations, both managers have relatively suitable squads for the match.
A spot at Wembley will be ranked over the course of 180 minutes, as both sides look to take advantage of their return to London for next week’s final. Chelsea have been confirmed as the first finalist, so the winner of this two-leg tie will advance to face the Blues.
Arsenal and Liverpool have been dead even throughout their history in this competition, with both sides having six wins plus four draws on the books, so bragging rights are on the way too. Liverpool dominated the last meeting between the two sides, a 4-0 Premier League win at the end of November.
** Sporting News will follow the event live and provide score updates, commentary and highlights as they happen.
Live score Liverpool vs. Arsenal
(All Eastern Ages)
2:10 pm: Arsenal may want to try shooting more in the match against Liverpool this time. Also limited shot helps. This is your expert analysis of the day.
Recent meetings between Arsenal and Liverpool – total shots
5v 19# LIVARS
– Orbinho (@Orbinho) January 13, 2022
1:45 pm: Prefer a score predictor (less scientific)? We won 3-3, that would make for a great 90 minutes for the neutrals.
1:35 pm: The squad is in place, and it was even stronger than expected for Liverpool when Trent Alexander-Arnold made a surprise return from his COVID-19 isolation. Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino are both named in the squad, suggesting that Jurgen Klopp could use a 4-4-2, unless one of them plays wide.
Meanwhile, Arsenal will see one of Bukayo Saka, Alexandre Lacazette or Gabriel Martinelli kick in as No 10 in a 4-2-3-1 formation with both Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe absent. The Gunners bench is ugly to read, this is a really thin squad at the moment.
Subs tonight: Leno, Holding, Mari, Chambers, Tavares, Patino, Salah-Eddine, Hutchinson, Biereth.
– Charles Watts (@charles_watts) January 13, 2022
1:29 pm: Another reason to take over tonight’s game: Jurgen Klopp would love to face Arsenal. Full betting tips below.
43 – Under Jürgen Klopp, Liverpool have scored more goals against Arsenal in all competitions (43 goals) than any other opponent. Guess. pic.twitter.com/Vg36lnQkV3
– OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 13, 2022
1:23 pm: They are handing out flags to the home fans. The Kop is sure to shake.
A semi-final under the lights at Anfield tonight. We’ll need help with the flags, if everyone can get down to the Kop/Kemlyn corner under the scoreboard from 19:15.
We also have smaller flags for kids or those who haven’t waved before. As always, anyone on The Kop is welcome.
– Spion Kop 1906 (@ SpionKop1906) January 13, 2022
1:08 pm: The calm before the storm.
12:45 pm: Ahead of this game, let’s take a look back at the meeting between Liverpool and Leicester City in the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup that saw the Reds reach this stage of the competition.
Liverpool vs. Arsenal
Note about Liverpool squad
It is thought that Trent Alexander-Arnold is the only Liverpool player still in COVID-19 isolation, but he was included in the starting lineup after a quick return from COVID-19 protocols, meaning the Devils Red is back with a virus-free lineup. Goalkeeper Alisson is among the returnees, having missed the previous time with a positive COVID-19 test.
However, players such as Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita are all on AFCON 2021 service, and the injury group Harvey Elliott, Divock Origi, Thiago and Nat Phillips joins the list of absentees. So the Red Devils are not really healthy even though the COVID-19 cases have disappeared. That means young players like Curtis Jones and Kaide Gordon have been benched and they could come on depending on the flow of the game.
Interestingly, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino were included in the starting line-up, suggesting that Liverpool could more than form a 4-4-2, unless either one is deployed wide.
Expected starting lineup for Liverpool (4-4-2): Alisson (GK) – Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson – Fabinho, Henderson, Milner, Minamino – Jota, Firmino.
Liverpool reserve (9): Kelleher (GK), Konate, Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Tsimikas, Gordon, Morton, Williams.
Notes on Arsenal’s squad
Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny are both on AFCON 2022, which means Arenal’s midfield is extremely thin. That could lead to times spent with Charlie Patino and Albert Lokonga in the midfield. The Gunners also appear to be dealing with COVID-19 issues, but Granit Xhaka has proven itself to be a good fit, a big boost. Takehiro Tomiyasu is said to be still sidelined with a calf injury, meaning Cedric Soares has stepped into right-back again.
Both Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe are out, with Smith Rowe failing to recover from a groin injury that kept him out of last weekend’s FA Cup match, and Odegaard being a recent addition to the roster after tested positive for COVID-19. That leaves Arsenal without a number 10, with either Gabriel Martinelli or Alexandre Lacazette moving in focus to take their place.
Another question for Mikel Arteta is who will start as a striker. Eddie Nketiah has been an unmissable pick in recent Nations Cup games, but he underperformed in the FA Cup loss to Nottingham Forest. However, with thin attacking options, Nkeitah started despite recent performances.
Expected Arsenal starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale (GK) – Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tierney – Lokonga, Xhaka – Saka, Lacazette, Martinelli – Nketiah.
Arsenal reserves: Leno (GK), Holding, Mari, Chambers, Tavares, Patino, Salah-Eddine, Hutchinson, Biereth.
How to watch Liverpool vs. Arsenal
- Day: Thursday, January 13
- Time: 2:45 p.m. ET
- Streaming online: ESPN+ (subscribers only)
Thursday’s first leg match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield in the EFL Cup semi-final will be broadcast exclusively on ESPN+ in the United States.
Pre-match betting line, selection and prediction
Pick: Liverpool win and more than 1.5 goals (+130)
Guess: Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal
- Cash flow: Liverpool +100 / Draw +275 / Arsenal +260
- Spread (Asia Handicap): Liverpool -0.5 (+100) / Arsenal +0.5 (-115)
- Total goals is O/U 2.5: Above -140 / Below +120
- Both teams scored: Yes -165/No +125