Date:5th January 2022 at 2:00pm
Written by:

Arsenal host Liverpool on Thursday in the second of the Carabao Cup semi-final first legs, with Chelsea v Tottenham taking place on Wednesday evening. 

The Merseysiders will be hoping to make the final of the cup for the first time since 2016, while Arsenal lost to Manchester City in the final the following year.

Both sides will be keen to add silverware to their respective trophy cabinets, with next month’s final offering the first major trophy of the English domestic season.

With Covid-19 isolation and the African Cup of Nations both causing havoc among Premier League squads, Liverpool look likely to be without manager Jurgen Klopp, while Arsenal will also be missing a number of stars.

Below, we predict the XI that Jurgen Klopp will choose to face the Gunners on Thursday;

Goalkeepers 

With Alisson still unavailable after returning a positive Covid-19 test before the Reds’ game against Chelsea on Sunday, youngster Caoimhin Kelleher will likely be called upon once more. Spaniard Adrian may feel unlucky not to be given a rare start, but his Irish teammate has impressed whenever given the opportunity so far for the senior side and could be chosen once more.

Defence

At right-back, Neco Williams will expect to start in order to give first-choice Trent Alexander-Arnold a well-deserved break. The youngster has started just four games so far this season across all competitions, but will be hopeful of being given a run out against a depleted Arsenal frontline.

At centre-back, Joe Gomez will likely make a rare start alongside Ibrahima Konate. The former has fallen down the pecking order at Anfield this season with Joel Matip also ahead of him, although the Cameroonian is sidelined with Covid-19 and Virgil van Dijk will be given a rest having started 18 of the Reds’ league games so far. Gomez is yet to start a league game in 2021/22, and has been heavily linked with a move away from Merseyside in search of more regular football.

Gomez has been omitted from Klopp’s squad for the majority of this season

On the left, Andy Robertson missed the game on Sunday due to injury ad Klopp may decide against rushing him back for a Carabao Cup tie. In his absence, Kostas Tsimikas will start having played against Chelsea.

Midfield

Liverpool are also depleted in midfield, with Thiago Alcantara out injured along with Harvey Elliot. Captain Jordan Henderson will likely start and anchor the Reds’ midfield, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and youngster Tyler Morton the most likely candidates to flank him on either side.

Oxlade-Chamberlain was a second-half substitute against Chelsea on Sunday

Morton has slowly been integrated into the first team fold this season and has played in all three rounds of the competition so far, while Oxlade-Chamberlain has struggled to maintain a place in Klopp’s side and will be looking to grasp the opportunity to impress.

Forwards

Liverpool’s biggest selection problems undoubtedly concern the front line, with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane having both travelled to Cameroon to take part in the AFCON. The pair both scored at Stamford Bridge on Sunday and have a combined tally of 34 goal involvements in the league alone so far this term. While their presence will be missed, Takumi Minamino will relish the opportunity to deputise and has scored four goals in three Carabao Cup games this season.

Minamino will be hoping to continue his fine goal scoring form in the Carabao Cup

On the other side, Curtins Jones will expect to start with Klopp’s attacking options limited. The 20-year-old has been an established member of the first team squad for two seasons now, but hasn’t played regularly of late due to an eye injury.

Through the middle, Roberto Firmino, who would likely have started having often warmed the bench in the league of late, is ruled out having tested positive for Covid over the weekend. The Brazilian has seen his playing time reduce quite dramatically since the arrival of Diogo Jota last year, and the Portuguese will likely lead the line with Divock Origi also sidelined through injury.

Despite both sides having a number of absentees, Thursday’s game between two of the Premier League’s biggest clubs will undoubtedly be an intriguing encounter, especially with the opportunity to take a huge step towards the final on offer.

 
Brought to you by Shoot!