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Arsenal’s surprise FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest on Sunday means that their eggs are now firmly placed in the League Cup basket in terms of bringing silverware back to North London. The Gunners had been slowly building momentum at the end of December, winning their last five games of 2021 and scoring 19 goals in the process.
Liverpool v Arsenal: Carabao Cup semi-final, first leg
Thursday, January 13 7.45pm
Sky Sports Football & Main Event
However, that momentum has ground to a halt with two defeats in their two games since the turn of the year, although they did perform admirably in a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City on New Year’s Day. Liverpool recovered from going behind to see off Shrewsbury last weekend and had been in patchy form before that one, losing at Leicester before being held 2-2 at Chelsea.
But who will come out on top when these two meet for the re-arranged first-leg at Anfield. Let’s pick our Bet Builder…
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Arsenal’s losing start to 2022 could easily continue on Thursday night against a Liverpool side that they have not beaten at Anfield in 10 years. This is the third time in the last three seasons that Liverpool and Arsenal have faced each other at Anfield in the League Cup, with both previous ties going to penalties.
Arsenal prevailed last season after a drab 0-0 draw with Liverpool’s reserves, while Liverpool had the bragging rights a season earlier after the two sides shared 10 goals in a thrill-a-minute encounter.
Liverpool are unlikely to field such a weakened side on Thursday night, however, and Arsenal are more likely to come against the kind of team that has dominated the rivalry in the league, winning the last six meetings at Anfield and scoring 22 goals in the process.
Liverpool have struggled to reach the defensive levels that they reached during their peak between 2018 and 2020, especially over the last month.
The Reds have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last six games in all competitions, including that home FA Cup tie against Shrewsbury that saw them field a centre-half pairing of Virgil Van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate.
Van Dijk’s return has not improved Liverpool’s defence as much as Liverpool fans would have hoped and they are likely to concede against an Arsenal side that had scored in nine games in a row before drawing a blank against Forest.
There is little chance that the Reds will fail to score against an Arsenal side that has shipped 13 goals in four games against the top three teams in the league this season.
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Death, taxes, and a bucketload of goals in games between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield. There have been four goals or more in each of the last nine league meetings between the sides in Liverpool, while last season’s drab 0-0 draw was the only game in the last 11 in all competitions to witness fewer than four goals.
Liverpool have scored three goals or more in their last seven home league games against Arsenal and there is little reason to believe that they won’t do it again on Thursday, even in the absence of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.
Mikel Arteta’s side have improved significantly at the back since the start of the season but still seem to struggle against the top sides, conceding nine goals in three games against Liverpool and both Manchester clubs over the last month.
Thursday night’s first leg should follow the recent trend between the two sides at Anfield.
Liverpool’s Greek full-back has emerged as a capable deputy for Andy Robertson this season and has started regularly during Liverpool’s run to the League Cup semi-final. Tsimikas has proved one of Liverpool’s most creative players in the competition, averaging 3.3 crosses 2.7 key passes per game.
He has registered one assist in the competition – in Liverpool’s 3-0 win at Norwich – and could flourish against an Arsenal defence that leaks goals and chances against superior opposition. Given Jurgen Klopp’s tendency to start him during the League Cup, he is also likely to earn a starting berth on Thursday night.
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