Both Liverpool and Arsenal are likely to make an abundance of changes when the pair meet in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup at Anfield on Wednesday night.
A place in the quarter-finals of the competition is at stake for Jurgen Klopp and Unai Emery with the managers facing contrasting fortunes in the Premier League currently.
The Gunners capitulated on Sunday at home to Crystal Palace, folding after being 2-0 up after ten minutes, eventually drawing 2-2.
Granit Xhaka’s response to the crowd reaction to his substitution has poured kerosene onto the raging fire burning at the Emirates.
This followed a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Sheffield United at Bramall Lane last Monday, with a performance and result that has become an unwanted trademark of this Arsenal side.
However, the mood and atmosphere couldn’t be any more different up in Merseyside after Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend.
Xhaka DISGRACE Means He MUST Be Stipped of Captaincy | Arsenal 2-2 Crystal Palace
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The Reds are yet to lose a league game this campaign and sit six points ahead of champions Manchester City after Sunday’s win.
It’s well beyond realisation that the Carabao Cup is way down the food chain when it comes to the priorities of the Premier League’s bigger clubs, and with both these sides having European commitments next week then we can expect two mix-and-match line-ups on Wednesday.
Liverpool will be expected to give former Arsenal man Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a start after hit two goals in the 4-1 Champions League win over Genk last week, while youngsters Harvey Elliott and Rhian Brewster will also be likely to feature.
Brazilian youngster Gabriel Martinelli will attract most of the attention in Arsenal’s starting 11, with the 18-year-old set to start up front.
Martinelli has been a revelation since his £6 million move from Brazilian Serie C side Ituano Futebol Clube, where former Middlesbrough player Juninho now resides as President.
The youngster has hit the ground running in North London, netting three times in his two appearances in the Europa League while also bagging a brace last time out in this competition – at home to Nottingham Forest.
CUP COULD BE EMERY’S SAVING GRACE
Unai Emery could do with a break at the moment.
Two poor results in the Premier League and an abstract display in the Europa League at home to Vitoria Guimaraes which was only saved by two wonder strikes from Nicolas Pepe have shone the spotlight on the Spaniard.
However, winning the League Cup, a trophy that eluded Arsene Wenger throughout his whole career, could give Emery a platform that allows him to save his job and then begin to flourish.
Emery’s record in cup competitions is impressive, having won the French equivalent of the FA and League cup twice each in two seasons as PSG manager.
His domination of the Europa League also cannot be ignored, having appeared as a manager in four out of the last six finals, winning three of them while in charge of Sevilla.
Arsenal’s situation in the league is far from precarious with the quest to finish in the top four and get back into the Champions League still within grasp, but if the first ten games are anything to go by then consistency may well be in short supply this season.
Obtaining a trophy in February could give Emery some breathing space, which is wise to suggest that perhaps Arsenal should take this competition seriously.
BAPTISTA STUNS ANFIELD
Liverpool and Arsenal have met in the League Cup at Anfield before and the last time this fixture graced this competition produced a spectacular result.
Julio Baptista joined an elusive club of players that have scored four goals for an opposing side at Anfield in 2007, setting the scene for Andrey Arshavin to put a dent in Liverpool’s title aspirations by doing the exact same thing for Arsenal two years later.
It was one of the only occasions that Brazilian striker Baptista showed his true quality in an Arsenal shirt as he stole the show to ensure the Gunners did a double over their hosts, who they knocked out of the FA Cup with a 3-1 victory at Anfield three days earlier.
Goals from Jeremie Aliadiere and Alex Song sealed what was an absolutely astounding result for Arsene Wenger’s side.
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