Preview: Arsenal vs. Liverpool 

Preview: Arsenal vs. Liverpool 

Arsenal and Liverpool will renew acquaintances at the Emirates Stadium when they lock horns for the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final on Thursday night.

After a goalless draw was played out in last week’s first leg, the tie is now nicely poised with both sides vying for a place in the final against Chelsea.

Many Arsenal supporters would have felt that their side were to face an uphill battle away at Anfield in the first leg, after another moment of madness from Granit Xhaka saw the Swiss midfielder dismissed before the half-hour mark.

However, a resilient defensive performance from Mikel Arteta’s 10 men ensured the Gunners held on for the draw, leaving the second leg on a knife edge with all to play for in front of their own fans on Thursday.

Since the first leg, Arsenal’s coronavirus troubles have worsened while Arteta is also having to deal with injuries, suspensions and AFCON absentees. As a result, Sunday’s eagerly-anticipated North London derby was postponed at the Gunners’ request.

It remains to be seen whether their second-leg tie with Liverpool is to go ahead, but for now Arteta and his remaining available players will continue to prepare for the challenging contest that awaits.

While the Gunners have never lost a home fixture in the EFL Cup against Liverpool – winning and drawing three games each – they have won only one of their last 17 meetings against the Reds across all competitions, and have failed to score in their last four in succession.

Another impressive defensive display will be required on Thursday if they are to keep Liverpool’s attackers at bay, who were certainly missing a cutting edge last week in the absence of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

Nevertheless, Jurgen Klopp will be confident that his available options can find their form in front of goal, particularly against a Gunners side who they have scored more goals against across all competitions (43) than any other opponent under the German’s tutelage.

After picking up just two Premier League points from a possible nine available in encounters with Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City and Chelsea, Liverpool returned to winning ways with a comfortable 3-0 victory against Brentford on Sunday.

Fabinho’s first-half header was followed by second-half goals from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Takumi Minamino, which helped the Reds leapfrog Chelsea into second place in the table.

Klopp would have been hoping that the Blues could do them a favour over the weekend in their contest with league leaders Manchester City; however, Pep Guardiola’s side extended their impressive winning streak which leaves Liverpool 11 points behind the current holders with a game in hand.

For the first time in five years, Liverpool are preparing for a semi-final second-leg clash in a domestic cup competition. The Reds have been known over the years for their successes in both the FA Cup and the EFL Cup, particularly the latter. However, Klopp is yet to win either as a manager so the German will be keen to add at least one of these pieces of silverware to his CV this term, considering his side remain in both cup competitions at this stage.

Liverpool have reached more EFL Cup finals than any other side in the competition’s history. Having said that, the Reds have only reached the showpiece event twice in the last 16 years, with their last triumph in 2011-12 against Cardiff City.

With hopes of claiming another Premier League title seemingly slipping away, reaching the first cup final of 2022 would be welcomed by Liverpool supporters, who will be hoping that their team can avoid another frustrating affair against the Gunners on Thursday.

Arsenal EFL Cup form:
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Arsenal form (all competitions):
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Liverpool EFL Cup form:
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Liverpool form (all competitions):
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We say: Arsenal 1-2 Liverpool
While Liverpool have several absentees of their own, Arsenal are extremely thin on the ground, particularly in midfield, which could see them exposed by Klopp’s men, should this tie go ahead.

Three strikes at the weekend will give the Reds confidence that they can breach the Gunners’ backline at the second time of asking in midweek, and they may just do enough to edge past the hosts into next month’s EFL Cup final.

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