Our EFL tie against Liverpool feels a little Groundhog Day-ish.
It was only three days ago we played them at Anfield and yet here we are, thanks to a fixture list crammed with games, we see ourselves playing the same team at the same venue, just three days apart.
Monday’s Premier League game saw us fall 3-1 to an impressive Liverpool side. Full of pressing, energy and running, they constantly created options on the ball and for the most part, kept possession too.
We improved after the break, but looking back at the game, it reminds us of the scale of Arteta’s job and what he’s trying to achieve – essentially reach Liverpool’s level and contend once again.
This knockout tie gives us a good opportunity to rotate the squad and progress in a Cup we haven’t won since 1993 too – as well as remind Liverpool we can be a threat. We have got a decent track record in ties against Klopp’s men. We beat them in the recent Community Shield and we squeezed out a 2-1 win late last season, so we can certainly go into this game with optimism. We would have learned a lot from Monday too. Not to play so compact and to take the game to the Reds. If we don’t and we invite them onto us, at least have the capacity to spring a quick counter – something we didn’t have until Ceballos came on for the last ten minutes.
Arteta will switch his side up for this and perhaps give some players the chance to stake a claim.
Who gets in the eleven?
Nicolas Pepe, Bukayo Saka and Reiss Nelson will all be in with a great shout of starting this game and what a chance they have to remind Arteta of their quality. Aubameyang and Lacazette will most likely be rested again, so Eddie gets another go up top.
In midfield, Ceballos may well come back into the side, but he could be saved for our Premier League game this weekend versus Sheffield United. That could mean either Torreira, Emile Smith-Rowe or Joe Willock gets a spot.
In defence, Tierney has only just returned from his minor injury and will most likely be rested. David Luiz and Rob Holding played on Monday too, so Gabriel Magalhaes and William Saliba could come into the eleven. Bernd Leno may well keep his place, but perhaps new boy Alex Runarsson may make his debut? Cedric is still expected to miss out even though he is fully fit, so AMN could come in at right back, with Kolasinac maybe making his last Arsenal appearance before an expected move to Bayer Leverkusen – as well as Sokratis.
Player to Watch
The former Wolves man came on late in our 3-1 loss and he got himself into promising positions on a few occasions. Jota ghosts into the box innocuously and is hard to pick up. The elusive frontman has good aerial ability too and will hurt us if we don’t remain in our shape or fail to track his runs. A very wily attacker, Jota could make the difference.
How this game could go
This game should pan out differently from Monday. Firstly, the personnel on show will be changed. Klopp will also have this weekend’s fixtures in mind, and he has a plentiful squad that can cope with rotation. So there may be a few youngsters in there, interspersed with genuine class. They too will want to prove to Klopp that they’re worthy of a start, so there should be plenty of thunder on the pitch as both teams go at it.
Whoever wins midfield wins this game though. We certainly gave way on Monday, the first half anyway, and we need to be much smarter when it comes to playing out of Liverpool’s press. If we can bypass their first wave, we can spring some dangerous situations. If we don’t, then this could be over quickly.
Predicted lineup – Leno, AMN, Magalhaes, Luiz, Saliba, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Willock, Saka, Pepe, Nketiah
Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Gunners
Try and predict our team for this tie here.