After a postponement, because of a COVID-19 outbreak in the Liverpool squad, Arsenal’s League Cup first leg semi-final is due to be played this week.
Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp said most of the positive coronavirus tests that led to the original fixture being rescheduled were false positives, and that was met with skepticism by Arsenal fans. The EFL still decided that it would not investigate the incident however, and that Liverpool had no case to answer.
Arsenal had a horrid time in the last time out. Pundits slammed the Gunners across the board for their terrible showing against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup. A haphazard performance saw them eliminated in the third round, with a 1-0 score line.
Liverpool vs Arsenal FYIs:
Kick-off time: 7:45 PM GMT, 13th January 2022
Starting XI Predictions: Arsenal Liverpool
Team News: Arsenal Liverpool
Premier League Podcast: go here
Form Guide (All Competitions): Liverpool (DWLDW) Arsenal (WWWLL)
Let’s look at the team news for the Gunners as they head into this one.
Arsenal is one of the hardest-hit sides by the African Cup of Nations. No less than four of their players have headed to Cameroon searching for international glory. Mohamed Elneny, Nicolas Pepe, Thomas Partey and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang are amongst these players.
The latter reportedly tested positive for COVID upon his arrival in Cameroon.
Granit Xhaka and Folarin Balogun both had question marks over their fitness following a bout of COVID-19. Xhaka is currently being assessed to deem whether he is fit enough to take part, whilst Balogun has sealed a move to Middleborough for the second half of the season.
Emile Smith-Rowe was a surprise omission from the FA Cup squad and it was later revealed he was suffering from a minor groin complaint. He will have his fitness assessed and is no guarantee to take part in this match. Takehiro Tomiyasu is much the same story.
They rate the Japanese international a 50/50 chance to play after a calf injury kept him out of the FA Cup loss to Forest.
Let’s finish with some good news for all you Gunners fans. Center back Gabriel will return from suspension and I expect him to take part at Anfield. The Brazilian was originally supposed to miss the first leg of the semi-final after two yellow cards against Manchester City.
Because of the rescheduling of this match, however, he served his suspension in the FA Cup, freeing him up for selection here. I think Arsenal will hit back with an away victory here and put Liverpool on the back foot for the second leg.
Prediction: 1-0 to the Gunners.
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