For the second time in four days, reigning Premier League champions Liverpool will host Arsenal at Anfield on Thursday night with a place in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup up for grabs.
Liverpool dominated Monday’s Premier League tie which they eventually won 3-1 after falling behind.
Arsenal have undoubtedly made progress and appear to be on the right path under Mikel Arteta, but Monday’s trip to Anfield was a reality check of sorts as Liverpool dominated throughout.
The Reds boasted 66% possession and had 21 shots, taking their overall tally for their three Premier League games so far to 61 efforts at goal – at least 17 more than any other side.
Arteta himself admitted that Liverpool are still “superior in many aspects”, yet there were also plenty of positives for the Gunners to take; they caught Liverpool’s back line out on a couple of occasions during rare forays forward and, on another day, may have pinched a point from the game.
Both teams met at the same stage of the competition also at Anfield last season with regulation time ending 5-5.
The encounter was eventually decided on penalties as Liverpool progressed, only to be knocked out in the next round while fielding their youth team against Aston Villa.
In the third round of this season’s campaign, Liverpool were in free-scoring form as they hammered Lincoln City 7-2 last week.
For Arsenal they recorded a 2-0 away win against Leicester City to set a date with Liverpool.
The Gunners have every reason to be confident of a different result against what is sure to be a much-changed Liverpool side on Thursday, having beaten the Reds twice in the last two months too.
Liverpool may point to the fact that neither last season’s Premier League meeting nor the Community Shield were high up their priority list, but they added to Arteta’s impressive and growing collection of big scalps he has already claimed as manager nonetheless.
The Spaniard looks well set to fare better in these games against fellow ‘big six’ opponents than Arsenal have done in the past, having already beaten Liverpool (twice), Manchester City and Chelsea since taking over.
Arsenal have not won this particular trophy since 1992-93, though, and have only lifted it twice in their entire history – the same number as Norwich City, Birmingham City and Wolverhampton Wanderers and fewer than Leicester City and Nottingham Forest.
New Liverpool signing Thiago Alcantara had been expected to make his full debut for the club in the league meeting between these two sides on Monday, but the reason for his absence has now been confirmed as a positive coronavirus test.
The midfielder will therefore not be back until after the international break, ruling him out of the second leg of their double-header too.
Youngsters such as Neco Williams, Rhys Williams, Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott all started in the previous round against Lincoln and will be hoping for another run-out here, while Sepp van den Berg is also in contention.
New signing Diogo Jota will be hoping that his goalscoring cameo off the bench on Monday is enough to earn him a starting spot, but fellow forwards Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino were both on the scoresheet against Lincoln and will expect to keep their places from the previous round.
A fit-again Xherdan Shaqiri and forgotten man Marko Grujic may also be handed starts again after both scored in the third round too.
The game is likely to come too soon for captain Jordan Henderson, while Joel Matip and former Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are still sidelined by injury.
Arteta surprised many by recalling David Luiz to the starting XI on Monday in place of Gabriel Magalhaes, who may be given the chance to continue his impressive start to life at the club in this game instead.
Arsenal’s ability to rotate at the back is affected by injury troubles, though, with Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers, Cedric Soares and Sokratis Papastathopoulos all struggling – although the latter duo could feature in some capacity here.
There could also be a debut for new goalkeeper Runar Alex Runarsson with Bukayo Saka, Nicolas Pepe, Eddie Nketiah, Sead Kolasinac and Dani Ceballos among the other players who could come into the side.
In addition to their defensive absentees, Arsenal are also still without Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe.