Arsenal Try To Move On From Xhaka Controversy

Preview of the Carabao Cup 4th Round visit to Liverpool

Arsenal Try To Move On From Xhaka Controversy

From one controversial captain to another?

The usual five talking points ahead of this evening’s visit to Liverpool in the Carabao Cup.

Likely to face a good Liverpool side
There was a time when Jurgen Klopp would put out pretty much an under 23 side in the earlier rounds of the domestic cups, and seemed perfectly content to accept the consequences of elimination. However, at home… against Arsenal? During the half-time of Sunday’s match against Crystal Palace, I took a look on my phone at the Liverpool bench v Tottenham with a thought as to who Klopp might start this evening. Here is the list of those seven players, who I predict we will see in the eleven at kick off: Adrian (keeper), Joe Gomez, Naby Keita, Lallana, Milner, Origi and Oxlade-Chamberlain. Whether or not the other four will be from Sunday’s starters or lesser-used squad members we will have to wait and see. But this is not going to be an easy evening for the visitors.

100% rotation for Emery
Arsenal’s head coach normally rings the changes right through the starting eleven with very occasional exceptions (Tierney played both last Thursday and Sunday), but if he is to start a different set of players, you can get close to predicting the eleven. My guess is Martinez, Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Kolasinac, Torreira, Willock, Ozil, Maitland-Niles, Saka and Martinelli. Assuming Ozil does start, it’s most likely that Emile Smith Rowe will drop to the bench whilst Reiss Nelson is injured. Unai Emery will be hoping the man who comes in from the cold can tip the tie the Gunners' way, because...

Yes, Mesut’s finally back!
If there is one player who has come out of the recent mixed bag of performances with an enhanced reputation it’s Mesut Ozil. Now Emery hasn’t said the German playmaker will actually start this evening, and he could cite match fitness as a reason to introduce him from the bench, but it that’s such an issue, then start him and take him off (good idea to tell him this plan before the game starts after past Ozil strops at seeing the subs’ board). Ironic that the number 10 makes his comeback on a chilly midweek evening ‘oop north. Reckon Emery is trying to make a point? If Ozil does start, it's between him and Bellerin as to who wears the captain's armband.

VAR wasn’t used in the Carabao Cup until the semi-final stage last season, and as far as I am aware, won’t be in effect tonight. What’s the betting that Arsenal could actually benefit from it for once…

Mixed memories of Liverpool in the League Cup
There have been a good number of memorable clashes between the two teams in this competition over the years. Here’s the full rundown, so let's see what memories are stirred…
15th Oct 1968 – Arsenal 2 Liverpool 1
7th Feb 1978 – Liverpool 2 Arsenal 1 (Semi 1st Leg)
14th Feb 1978 – Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0 (Semi 2nd Leg)
1st Dec 1981 – Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0
8th Dec 1981 –Liverpool 3 Arsenal 0 (replay)
5th April 1987 – Arsenal 2 Liverpool 1 (Final)
2nd Nov 1988 – Liverpool 1 Arsenal 1
9th Nov 1988 – Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0 (1st replay)
23rd Nov 1988 – Liverpool 2 Arsenal 1 (2nd replay – Villa Park)
25th Oct 1989 – Arsenal 1 Liverpool 0
11th Jan 1995 – Liverpool 1 Arsenal 0
27th Nov 1996 – Liverpool 4 Arsenal 2
9th Jan 2007 – Liverpool 3 Arsenal 6
28th Oct 2009 – Arsenal 2 Liverpool 1
A good few memories there for those of us who were born in the 1960s or before, and interesting to note the 10 year gaps between games from 1968 to 1978, and from 2009 to today’s game. The luck of the draw and all that. History does tell us though that in this competition, Arsenal wins at Anfield are rare (one in seven), although those who witnessed the 1988 draw saw the Gunners match Kenny Dalglish’s team at the peak of their powers, and gain confidence for a certain First Division fixture at the same venue some six months later.

The story will be the return of Mesut Ozil, just at the same time as the club now have to find a solution to the Granit Xhaka / captaincy issue. It feels like one drama after another right now, but it does at least give Ozil the opportunity to make his case on the pitch, something he has not had the opportunity to do for a while now. If he fails, and is subbed, let’s just hope he gets off the field sharpish, eh? My prediction – a very loud ‘We've got Ozil chant’ in the opening 3 minutes, and sadly, a Liverpool win. Sorry people, I have to call it as I see it. The shadow team didn't look too great last Thursday, and this is surely a tougher ask.


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  1. itsRonagain2

    Oct 30, 2019, 23:08 #115317

    My old mates who still go have a go at me when I say Arsenal are in the worst state now since the middle 60s. They won’t have it but there you go! McKechnie in goal tonight. MacGill. Ure Brown all looked ropey as ever. Baker marauding up front to compensate for those bash street kids at the back. Strong supporting him. As for Billy Wright on the touchline? Looked as bemused as he ever did. At 2-4 lead, they were rocking and looked likely to collapse totally ...........Gunners I mean, not Liverpool. Yeats looked off colour for them. But Roger Hunt had a good game for Liverpool. Anyway, I’m turning in. I’ve got my Tiger and Hurricane to read and my Charles Buchan footie monthly. Nite lads!

  2. markymark

    Oct 30, 2019, 22:44 #115316

    Looking towards the future I’m glad it was a Ceballos miss. Each young Arsenal lad who is likely to stay put it in the net. Emery needs to go!

  3. mbg

    Oct 30, 2019, 22:22 #115315

    John F, your dead right mate I said to the wife, just wait we'll fook it up, how many times has that happened now, to numerous to count.

  4. mbg

    Oct 30, 2019, 22:18 #115314

    After all this time there is still nobody at our club who can teach/coach the team/players how to hold onto and defend a lead ? ff's sake, defending aside it would have been a great result for the young lads, defeat from the jaws of victory yet again.

  5. Pauljames

    Oct 30, 2019, 22:07 #115313

    Think it’s the supporters that should be offered counselling after enduring yet another master class in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Seriously this lot have got masters degrees in shooting themselves in the foot, mentally weak just doesn’t cover it.

  6. mad max

    Oct 30, 2019, 22:00 #115312

    Emery has to be removed, how can you be 4 up at anfield and still get knocked out, mindless substitutions, take off our best 2 players. this guy is clueless, only arsenal could throw that away, martinez looked hopeless, why is mustafi still at the club?, xhaka being offered counselling the circus continues are you sure wenger has left it's gonna be another groundhog season again the good thing is we've got some real talent in the squad a top coach like Brendan rogers or Mourinho would work wonders given the chance but this spineless board wont do the right thing

  7. John F

    Oct 30, 2019, 21:47 #115311

    Lets face it that with just a couple of minutes on the clock to go none of us was confident of holding on.

  8. Paulo75

    Oct 30, 2019, 21:45 #115310

    The torment continues..... how on earth did we lose that?

  9. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Oct 30, 2019, 21:41 #115309

    Quite amazing, only Arsenal could encapsulate the last 13 years in one game.

  10. markymark

    Oct 30, 2019, 20:12 #115308

    Whatever the final score Martinelli needs to be tied down to a serious buy out clause. A brace at Anfield is serious business!

  11. Dick Dastardly

    Oct 30, 2019, 18:19 #115307

    We were there for the 87 SF replay and the final too, the 87 replay must be up there with one of the greatest nights in the club's history. The rebirth of our club started right there at the Lane. Happy memories.

  12. Pauljames

    Oct 30, 2019, 17:05 #115306

    The 87 final one of my happiest teen age memories , and the beginning of a wonderful 6 or 7 years for the club under George.As for tonight when you look at the predicted line ups we should have a chance, but it’s still so hard to fancy an away win, wouldn’t be surprised if the Ox comes back to haunt us .

  13. Exiled in Pt

    Oct 30, 2019, 16:47 #115305

    Ron , 1-0 and it was my last home game believe it or not. Not been to Ashburton grove since Chelsea and Anderlecht last 2 away games in 2014 . Saw the game in Lisbon last season but have to say the buzz was no longer really there was more a case of seeing old friends again ......

  14. RobG

    Oct 30, 2019, 16:01 #115304

    5th April 1987 - that was the one. Remember it like yesterday. Didn't we beat Spurs in that epic Semi. ? Will be disappointed if Smith Rowe doesn't get to play, as I think he can play himself into this team with game time. I'd certainly rather see him, than Ozil.

  15. itsRonagain2

    Oct 30, 2019, 14:03 #115302

    PS We may have won that derby match thinking about it, 1-0? You can detect the impact it had matey!! Its was the year the Spuds had bought about 6 players in the Summer and none were much good or lasted very long as i recall.

  16. itsRonagain2

    Oct 30, 2019, 14:00 #115301

    Exiled yes, 2013 was last home game. It was the derby match that Season 2013/14 i think (might have been yr before though - unsure). An awful 1-1 drab fest, though in fairness the derby games this last 12 years have been pretty good haven't they, apart from that day. Even the players on both sides seemed bored to death. The only thing any good that day was the weather! Been to about 7 or 8 away games since then, the last one being at Leics in 2017. As far as away games go, the 5-1 white flag job at Liverpool and Ozils performance was the one that broke the camels back for me. Ive not travelled any distance since that day.

  17. Exiled in Pt

    Oct 30, 2019, 13:41 #115300

    Ron , i think we pretty much stopped going to games the same year 2014 . Agree Ox is a cert to score after a bit of stick from our support , it always happens ! Would like to see Dick go with Bellerin , Holding , Chambers and Tierney at the back tonight and see how they work together but i dont suppose that will happen ... First 15 minutes and it could all be over, lets hope not..

  18. Colonel Blimp

    Oct 30, 2019, 13:19 #115299

    With Rob Admin here, I'm afraid the only interesting thing about tonight is how many the Bin Dippers will score. I'll go for 3-0.

  19. Rob Admin

    Oct 30, 2019, 12:53 #115298

    For me the question is will they score 3, 4 or 5 in reply to our consolation goal?

  20. itsRonagain2

    Oct 30, 2019, 12:16 #115297

    Exiled - yes. Good away fan pub mate. Great times in there in the past as you say. Not been in myself for some 5 years now though. Its is better stadium than it was. The area is being gradually cleared as well. Foreboding ground though for visiting teams. Its all in their minds really i guess. Beaten before they start, many of them. It ll be strange games i think. Lots of kids and youngsters on both sides and CC games can go either way. Ox bound to score! Likely defeat though as you suggest.

  21. Exiled in Pt

    Oct 30, 2019, 11:56 #115296

    Ron - you cannot beat the cheery old girl behind the bar in the Arkles , mind she has probably retired by now ..Or cutting through Stanley park on a dark dank night up North . Always a nightmare ground still lot more pleasant now than it used to be ..have had the pleasure of the restricted view... As for the football i think we may get hammered tonight but fingers crossed for a bit of commitment and fight from the youngsters .

  22. itsRonagain2

    Oct 30, 2019, 11:13 #115295

    Hi Kev - in all fairness, is there a club who have any sort of decent post early 1960s record there? We are rubbish there generally in both league and cups bot so is everybody else i seems to me. Some thing about that place. Never quite worked it out and at night its far harder. Awful area, terrible away section for most of the fans (have you ever been in what they call the 'restricted view' seats? - good grief!) . Noisy home fans ( but only when they're winning ) closed in, oppressive ground. Usually cold damp and wet. Awkward place to get to. Parking nearly non existent and wondering whether yr car will be sprayed a different colour or set fire while yr away from it. Lots of factors, yet strangly its one of the better away trips, if only because of all the negatives!! Perverse really.

  23. Paulo75

    Oct 30, 2019, 10:27 #115294

    That the likely return of Ozil is being heralded in some quarters as the returning messiah probably says it all about where we are just now. All being equal we should have a fighting chance tonight with Liverpool resting a few of their regulars but just not sure this group have the strong mentality required to produce such a response.