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.
The October edition of the monthly (original) Gooner podcast can be listened to and downloaded here
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