Match preview ahead of Liverpool v Arsenal in the League Cup semi final first leg at Anfield, with false positives opening up possibilities…
WELL, I didn’t think I’d be writing this piece at half-time against Leicester after a grim half of Foxes-dominated football.
Yet here I am – nice one, Taki.
An incredibly intense Carabao Cup quarter final for those on and off the pitch finally produced its climax as Diogo Jota slotted home from the penalty spot, taking Liverpool to their first domestic semi final since 2017. The victory tasted rather sweet, I have to admit – especially after those chants from portions of the away end.
We discovered shortly after that we’d face Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal over two legs, and it hasn’t all been plain sailing for either side since their progression to this stage. Liverpool do come into the week in good spirits after a 4-1 win against League One Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup, with a team featuring a number of Academy graduates.
Arsenal, on the other hand, are looking to reclaim a bit of dignity after a shock 1-0 defeat away to Nottingham Forest on Sunday evening. They will be desperately searching for a win to give themselves a chance of silverware, knowing that failing to do so could see their strong season quickly unravel.
Tonight’s game at Anfield was of course initially supposed to be the second leg, before a Covid outbreak ravaged Jurgen Klopp’s side and forcing the club to apply for a postponement. Fortunately most cases have now been confirmed as false positives, except for Trent Alexander-Arnold – though the boss did confirm he has just returned to training. So Liverpool lose their home advantage for the second leg, which makes this game even more crucial.
“Of course it makes a difference especially with power Anfield can produce,” said Klopp in his pre-match press conference. “But we cannot change that. We couldn’t play last Thursday, that’s why we have to take it like it is.”
After the various false positive cases at Liverpool’s Kirkby HQ, Klopp now appears to have more of a pool to pick from. Ibrahima Konate, Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, Andy Robertson and Kostas Tsimikas all either featured or were among the substitutes against Shrewsbury Town last weekend, and will give the manager a bit of a selection headache. Will he go with the rhythm of Konate and Robertson or look to change it?
He also has decisions to make around the goalkeeper and how we balances his midfield and attack. Will he go as strong as possible with Alisson Becker over Caoimhin Kelleher? Will he opt to play one of Curtis Jones or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the front three to prevent crowbarring in three central forwards upfront? It all remains to be seen and the possibilities are exciting.
On the whole, it should be a fascinating contest under the floodlights at Anfield. It’s a spectacle that The Reds will no doubt want to embrace as they set their sights on lifting this trophy.
Two steps to Wembley.
Predicted 11: Alisson; Trent, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Jones; Chamberlain, Firmino, Jota
“I’m expecting Klopp to go as strong as possible and excited to see what he does with the forwards. There’s no reason why we won’t be able to put out a side strong enough to beat Arsenal”— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) January 13, 2022
1️⃣ Download our app
2️⃣ Enjoy FREE tokens
3️⃣ Access this podcast
👉 https://t.co/yTcwWTZN7t pic.twitter.com/cBPTYFr8zo