It’s been a long wait, but Arsenal’s wait for the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final against Liverpool is finally over.
The two sides will square off on Thursday after a Covid-19 outbreak – now discovered to be full of false positives – saw the initial tie postponed.
Mikel Arteta is without a handful of first-team regulars because of a combination of illness, injury and AFCON duty, but he will still expect a response following Arsenal’s humiliating exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Nottingham Forest.
Here’s how he could set up.
Bernd Leno (GK) – Since losing his first-choice role to Aaron Ramsdale, Leno has completed each of Arsenal’s previous three EFL Cup fixtures, and should continue here.
Takehiro Tomiyasu (RB) – He’s been dealing with a minor calf problem but Arteta will be desperate to have Tomiyasu back after his impressive start to the season.
Ben White (CB) – Started the Forest defeat but will demand more of himself here.
Gabriel Magalhaes (CB) – His suspension is now over so Gabriel should return at centre-back.
Kieran Tierney (LB) – With Nuno Tavares in a bit of a slump, starting Tierney is a no-brainer.
Albert Sambi Lokonga (DM) – Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny are away at AFCON and Granit Xhaka has been out with Covid-19, so Lokonga could be the ‘experienced’ one in midfield.
Charlie Patino (DM) – You can see why Arteta is so desperate for another senior midfielder. Nevertheless, it’s a good chance for Patino to justify the hype.
Bukayo Saka (RM) – Saka’s red-hot form hit a bump against Forest but he more than deserves the chance to get it going again.
Martin Odegaard (AM) – Emile Smith Rowe isn’t fully fit so Arteta shouldn’t have too much of a debate over this spot.
Gabriel Martinelli (LM) – Excellent against Man City but underwhelming against Forest, Martinelli also needs to get things back on track.
Alexandre Lacazette (ST) – With a lot of speculation around Eddie Nketiah’s future, Arteta would be wise to turn to Lacazette’s experience here.
You can read 90min’s Liverpool vs Arsenal preview here.