As we head into the second leg of the EFL Cup semifinals, the tie between Liverpool and Arsenal, the major match storyline revolves around postponements and rescheduling. There has been a lot of criticism aimed at Arsenal, whether that’s fair or not, and Gunners boss Mikel Arteta used his press conference on Wednesday to address that.
After the North London Derby was cancelled, Tottenham boss Antonio Conte made his feelings known, with rather strong opinions, as he hit out at the Premier League.
Conte also said he didn’t understand why Arsenal may have gotten a pass from the league.
Carabao Cup Liverpool FC at Arsenal FYIs
Semifinal Leg 2/2 Aggregate 0-0
Kickoff: Jan 20, 7:45pm Emirates Stadium
Team News: Arsenal Liverpool
Obviously, this was a trigger for Arteta. “We will defend our club with teeth and nails,” the Spaniard responded.
“We are not going to get anybody damaging our name, or trying to lie about things that haven’t occurred. We will make mistakes, and we will put our hands up, but we will defend our club in a really strong way.
“I think more than hate, there is a lot of respect for Arsenal, and that’s something that comes from the history of this club. How it has always acted, and how it has always behaved, and how it’s always conducted itself in many different moments. In high moments, and in low moments, and we need to keep doing that.
“We know we did the right thing, and we worked together with the Premier League and The FA to make that decision and to explain the reasons why.
“I think if anything, we have been very, very honest at least.
“We didn’t have the players necessary to put a squad available to compete in a Premier League match, that is 100% guaranteed.”
Arsenal Team News
Like we hinted at in the open, we don’t have any major team news updates here, as there have not been any significant changes in player status from last week.
Arsenal will continue on in this one without the services of the four players who are away at Africa Cup of Nations: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mohamed Elneny, Thomas Partey and Nicolas Pepe. Elsewhere Granit Xhaka remains suspended from his red card in the first leg.
Meanwhile midfielder Martin Odegaard remains out with COVID, and Pablo Mari is expected to make a loan move to Udinese official before too long. With the potential for a cup final on the line, expect Arteta to go with the best XI he can pick.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”