Liverpool vs Arsenal
| Wednesday, October 30th |
Carabao Cup | Anfield
7:30PM BST / 3:30PM EST
Tomorrow marks the halfway point of the current fixture sprint between international breaks, and Liverpool have done well, picking up two wins and a draw from their three matches so far, maintaining their position at the top of the Premier League table and putting themselves in an excellent spot to advance from their Champions League group.
It will be quite a different task on Wednesday night, however, in a number of ways; the relative status of the Carabao Cup means that Jürgen Klopp is likely to seize the opportunity to rotate his squad, and the same is likely true of his opposite number, increasing the potential variance of the fixture.
Arsenal may be struggling in the league — fans of the fifth-placed side booed the club captain off the pitch with half an hour to go during Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace — but they made it to the fourth round of the EFL Cup by smashing Nottingham Forest 5-0 back in September, and Unai emery will be bullish about his second string’s chances against Liverpool’s youths.
As always in the early rounds of these second-tier competitions, it is difficult to make predictions, but it appears likely that Mesut Özil will captain a side consisting largely of talented youngsters such as Gabriel Martinelli, Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock, all of whom scored in the previous round of the cup.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Kelleher; Milner, Gomez, van den Berg, Lewis; Lallana, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Keïta; Origi, Brewster, Elliott
For the Reds, Xherdan Shaqiri, Joël Matip and Mohamed Salah are all in various states of recovery, but only the former would have been a candidate to start tomorrow anyway. Ki-Jana Hoever’s absence through international duty ensures that the backline will be picked from only a handful of potential candidates, and there is a good chance Sepp van den berg will make his full debut in red. James Milner at either fullback position seems a near certainty.
Adam Lallana deputised at the six against MK Dons in the last round and could reprise the role, while continued match practice for at least one of Naby Keïta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain seems likely. Curtis Jones could also be involved from the start.
Up top, the impressive Harvey Elliott seems certain to get another start, as does Rhian Brewster, while Champions League hero Divock Origi could be set for only his fourth start of the campaign.
A win here would be fun, but there is no need to pretend Klopp doesn’t have at least one and a half eye on next weekend’s trip to Aston Villa — consistently sending Pep Lijnders to appear at press conferences for the competition — and that the Carabao Cup largely functions as a way to give playing time to youngsters and fringe players. Every win provides new opportunities for that exact thing, however, and as such, has value.
Up the five front fighting Reds!
What the Managers Said
Pep Lijnders: “I think our squad is not big but it doesn’t make sense and it would really not be intelligent to make it even smaller by not using its strength, and one of its strengths in my opinion is the power of the youth with experience. That mixture can bring amazing processes.”
Unai Emery: “Each match in this competition can be different, and tomorrow is one very good opportunity for us. We will be thinking that the Carabao Cup is important and it’s an opportunity for us to recover confidence and our way.”
Referee: Andre Marriner
Assistant referees: Dan Cook, Sian Massey-Ellis
Fourth official: Kevin Friend
Kickoff is set for 7:30PM GMT/3:30PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it’s released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.