Liverpool v Arsenal: Hosts can edge rearranged first-leg

Dan Fitch thinks that Liverpool will have enough quality to make home advantage count against Arsenal, as he previews the first-leg of the EFL Cup semi-final.

Liverpool back in action

The first-leg of this EFL Cup semi-final, now sees Liverpool enjoying home advantage.

Arsenal were meant to be hosting the first-leg at the Emirates last week, but Liverpool asked for the game to be postponed, due to a lack of players. Liverpool have subsequently played an FA Cup tie at the weekend against Shrewsbury, winning 4-1.

Against lower league opposition, Jurgen Klopp only started with a handful of senior players and gave lots of opportunities to youngsters. He will need to select a much stronger side against Arsenal and the good news for Klopp is that he does have some key players returning, even though it will be some time before he can pick anything like his best lineup.

Alisson should return in goal, while Jordan Henderson, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino could all be given starts. Liverpool are still without Naby Keita, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah who are all away on international duty. Trent Alexander-Arnold has Covid, while Nat Phillips, Thiago Alcantara, Harvey Elliott and Divock Origi are all injured.

Gunners knocked out of FA Cup

Arsenal need to bounce back after suffering cup disappointment over the weekend.

The Gunners were knocked out of the FA Cup in the third round, with a surprise 1-0 defeat at Championship outfit Nottingham Forest. It was a disappointing result for Arsenal, as though Mikel Arteta rotated a little, he still put out a pretty strong side that included a number of first-choice players.

It was the second successive defeat for Arsenal, following their home loss to Manchester City in the Premier League. Arsenal received praise for their performance against the Premier League champions, but the loss to Nottingham Forest shows that there is plenty of improvement still needed from the fourth placed club, especially in terms of squad depth.

Arteta will surely be looking to put out a full strength side for this one, though he has plenty of absentees to deal with himself. Mohamed Elneny, Thomas Partey, Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are all at the African Cup of Nations. Granit Xhaka and Folarin Balogun have Covid, while Takehiro Tomiyasu and Emile Smith-Rowe are doubts with injuries.

Liverpool can edge low scoring match

Liverpool are the favourites at 2.1, with Arsenal at 3.55 and the draw at 3.8.

The hosts will be able to put out a stronger side than would have been the case had the original first-leg gone ahead. Liverpool are perhaps a little shorter than they should be, in what looks likely to be an even contest, but with home advantage they are the worthy favourites.

Liverpool's defence and midfield will be stronger than their attack, so backing a low scoring win for the hosts, seems the best way to boost their price. A home win and under 3.5 goals is 3.25.

Jota big price to add to tally

Under 2.5 goals is the outsider at 2.28 which looks a little big with Liverpool missing Mane and Salah. A Liverpool win and under 2.5 goals is 5.7.

That's not to say that Liverpool are completely without firepower. Salah's exploits this season have rather overshadowed the achievements of Jota, who is having a fine campaign for the club. The Portuguese forward has found the net 12 times in 23 appearances this season and with Jota needing to step up with Mane and Salah out, odds of 2.75 for him to score look big.

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