Arsenal face Liverpool in the League Cup on Wednesday, looking to put a Crystal Palace draw behind them with an unexpected victory at Anfield.
In the Premier League, it seems unlikely Arsenal would have much of a chance against Jurgen Klopp’s side right now. Liverpool are brushing aside everyone in their path whilst Unai Emery’s team struggle past Vitoria and drop points to Sheffield United and Palace.
The one hope for the Gunners is that Liverpool’s focus on the league and last Sunday’s game against Spurs might force them to rotate, particularly with more league and Champions League fixtures coming up on Saturday and Tuesday.
Rotation would benefit Arsenal far more than their opponents, as their cup/Europa League side have actually been the more impressive of the two so far.
Let’s have a look at our predicted lineup for the clash.
Emi Martinez has been taking the cup and Europa League games so far, but this is certainly set to be a bigger test than any he’s had to this point. Nonetheless, we expect him to start.
Matt Macey was on the bench for the last round, but given this is a trip to Anfield, Bernd Leno will probably take his place this time.
Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding and Shkodran Mustafi will presumably all come into the team, after being left out over the weekend. David Luiz, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Calum Chambers will drop out after playing 90 minutes against Palace.
The left-back spot could go either way. Kieran Tierney started over the weekend, but he didn’t play the full 90 minutes.
Still, it does seem like he might have become the first-choice left-back at this point, meaning he’ll be saved for the weekend with Sead Kolasinac starting against Liverpool.
With Granit Xhaka’s situation, plus Matteo Guendouzi and Dani Ceballos running themselves into the ground at the weekend, Emery will need to rotate in midfield.
Lucas Torreira is an obvious choice to come in, and Emile Smith Rowe should join him after a strong performance against Vitoria.
Joe Willock had a couple of off games last week, but there really aren’t many alternatives if Emery plays three in midfield, and a midfield two of Torreira and Smith Rowe seems a bit open if they’re supported by the likes of Bukayo Saka and Nicolas Pepe.
Mesut Özil is in the squad again, at last, but we’re not going to bet on him starting.
Alexandre Lacazette has returned from injury to start two games in a few days, so he should probably be rested here. Meanwhile, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been ruled out of the squad.
As a result, Gabriel Martinelli will start. Perhaps we might even see Tyreece John-Jules involved on the bench. The 18-year-old has scored at Anfield before, albeit in the FA Youth Cup.
Saka will start on the left after only making a brief substitute appearance at the weekend, whilst Pepe will likely keep his place on the right.
Emery will want to include some of his big-name players for a trip to Anfield, and the only real alternative to Pepe on the right is Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who underperformed against Vitoria.
As mentioned previously, it’s possible Emery plays a 4-4-2, which would likely mean Martinelli and Lacazette together.
The issue is how open that could leave the team defensively, with a midfield of Saka, Pepe, Torreira and Willock/Smith Rowe. Emery will probably opt for a more cautious approach.