Liverpool will be without manager Jürgen Klopp for its EFL Cup semi-final clash with Arsenal on Thursday after he tested positive for COVID-19. Can they still beat the Gunners? Which is the right team for our soccer picks?
Arsenal FC vs. Liverpool FC
Thursday, January 06, 2022 – 02:45 PM EST at Emirates Stadium
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta missed his team’s Premier League game against Manchester City at the weekend after he returned a positive test. The Gunners’ six-game winning streak came to an end against City, but they still put in an impressive performance, and they were unlucky to lose after suffering some poor refereeing decisions.
Arteta will now be back in the dugout after he tested negative, but opposite number Klopp will miss out after he and three of his assistants tested positive.
That could hand Arsenal a significant boost in this game. The Gunners have taken this competition seriously, fielding strong teams in the previous rounds, and they will be keen to book a place in the final.
Liverpool Squad Looks Depleted
Liverpool blew a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Chelsea in a heavyweight Premier League clash on Sunday. That left the Reds 11 points behind runaway league leader Man City, although they do have a game in hand.
Their chances of winning the Premier League are fading, but Klopp will not give up, and he is unlikely to prioritize this competition. He has fielded a reserve team in every previous round, with teenagers Billy Koumetio, Conor Bradley, Harvey Blair, Tyler Morton, and Kaide Gordon all featuring.
After the 2-2 draw with Chelsea, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, and Naby Keïta all left to represent their countries in the Africa Cup of Nations. Goalkeeper Alisson, defender Joel Matip and striker Roberto Firmino all tested positive for COVID before the Chelsea match, while Andy Robertson is suspended, and Thiago Alcántara and Divock Origi are injured, so Liverpool’s squad looks ravaged.
The club may try to convince the EFL to postpone this game, but the rules state that games can only be postponed if a team cannot submit 13 outfield players and one goalkeeper, and Liverpool are unlikely to qualify, so the game should go ahead.
Arsenal Will Miss Thomas Partey
Arsenal suffered a painful 4-0 defeat to Liverpool when the teams met in the Premier League a couple of months ago. The Gunners were totally outclassed in that game, but they may fare better against a Liverpool reserve team in the EFL Cup.
Arteta has also taken the opportunity to rest important players for previous EFL Cup games, but young striker Eddie Nketiah has flourished in the competition, and a healthy smattering of first-team stars carried Arsenal to a string of comfortable wins.
It eased to a 5-1 home win against Sunderland in the quarter-finals, and it should put in another strong performance if Arteta packs his team with regular starters. He will be without Thomas Partey, Nicolas Pépé, and Mohamed Elneny, who have gone to the AFCON, but Arsenal is not dealing with the sort of injury crisis that Liverpool is facing, and it will have its manager prowling the touchline.
Liverpool managed to draw 3-3 with Leicester in the last round, despite fielding a reserve team, but it may struggle to repeat the feat against Arsenal at the Emirates. Take the Gunners at the top-rated sportsbooks.
Soccer Pick: Arsenal to win (-105) at DraftKings
Soccer Pick: Both Teams to Score and Over 2.5 Goals (+100) at Bet365
Soccer Pick: Eddie Nketiah to Score (+200) at Unibet