Arsenal v Liverpool Preview and Line-up: Four Starting-11 Options

I know it is not elegant and even less productive to be overconfident right before the event, but as I will not play against Liverpool in the Carabao I may afford the luxury, hoping not to jinx it for the boys. Anyway, I am positive we will proceed to the quarter-finals to the Carabao Cup tonight. Why am I so confident? Because I trust Klopp and Arteta to be genuine gentlemen, and use the opportunity to give minutes to youngsters and fringe players, and our B team is simply stronger than Liverpool’s. A few months ago, we discussed that Arsenal’s backup XI is almost as strong as the A team, and while we had no chance against Liverpool’s prime at Anfield on Monday, this is time to demonstrate through an away win that we are an important factor in any cups. We prevailed 14 times from 17 games in the league cup’s 4th round, so it’s time to make it 15 out of 18.

It will not be an easy game though. Liverpool is strong in attack – but so are we – so I expect a game rich in chances and goals. In fact, Liverpool’s last 3 Carabao Cup matches have seen 24 goals scored (12-12 in both directions) with 90 shots attempted across those games. The most notable – as far as I’m concerned – was the 10-goal thriller against Arsenal, as last year we visited Anfield on the 30th of October, and played a memorable 5:5, eventually losing on penalties by 5:4. If you haven’t seen the game or the highlights, be sure to check it out:

It was a crazy game with a Mustafi own goal, a soft penalty against Arsenal, 2 Liverpool strikes from outside the 18-yard box, and a defensive calamity (Martinez stood in goal and by conceding 5 again – after the legendary 7:5 win against Reading a few years back – earned an abysmal 3.6 rating from WhoScored). We were not as fortunate as the Reds, but we had our fair share of luck, as Ozil miraculously salvaged a goal for AMN following a sloppy back pass from Milner.

Joe Willock had a memorable night – in fact I think that was his best game ever for Arsenal – with 2 key passes, plenty of defensive contribution, and a long range pile-driver that was a contender for our goal of the season. Martinelli stole the show though scoring a brace after his 2 goals against Nottingham Forest in the previous round and another brace against Standard Liége a few weeks earlier.

I am sure that with our defence improved – from both concentration and individual skills point of view – we will not concede 5 goals, but we won’t score 5 either. My prediction for Thursday night is Liverpool 2:4 Arsenal. And another fine piece of record: this will be the 16th time we face Liverpool in the league cup, making it the most played fixture in the history of the competition.

Let’s see the likely line-ups. Starting with Liverpool:

Assuming they will keep the signature 4-3-3 formation they will probably look like this





Tsimikas is injured and Robertson is resting, so I think they will call up Larouci from the U23. And I guess Matip will stay on the bench to let the youngsters form the defence.

Their attacking trident is dangerous enough on their own merit, but I hope Origi will stay on the bench, as Jota deserves to play, and Shaqiri and Minamino need the minutes more than the Belgian international. Nevertheless if Origi plays as ST we should pay special attention to him, as his MOM display sank Arsenal in the same fixture a year ago. Taking into consideration that Brewster is still with Liverpool (they are looking for a proper club to send him on loan this season) we can see how insanely strong Liverpool’s squad is in attackers.

Let’s see the possible formations for Arsenal. I share 4 options here. Starting with the U23 version:





We don’t have an U23 keeper in the senior team, so the new lad from Iceland should start, to provide competition to Leno, and I seriously hope that we will see Saliba in a competitive game for the first time. We bought him for the future, and he had time to adapt, played in a pre-season friendly, played in the U23, so there are no more excuses. Especially as Rob Holding played all games in the season already – the only player with 450 minutes under his belt.

If Guendouzi is not playing – and Arteta would want to stick to the U23 concept – then he can call up Cottrell from the U23 squad. He is doing great this year so far, even though Bould’s coaching and tactics are less value-adding than I would have liked, but this is way off-topic here…

Here is another alternative, with a lot more experience there, taking into consideration that Xhaka was substituted, so he might have the legs to play again mid-week:





Now let’s see a 4-2-3-1 line-up with no players there that started against Liverpool on Monday. This is a really attack-minded formation, probably even too offensive, like this joke on Liverpool:

St. Peter was manning the Pearly Gates when 40 Liverpool fans showed up. Never having seen anyone from Liverpool at heaven’s door, St. Peter said he would have to check with God. After hearing the news, God instructed him to admit only the 10 most virtuous from the group. A few minutes later, Saint Peter returned to God breathless and said, “They’re gone.” “What? All of the Liverpool fans are gone?” asked God.
 replied Saint Peter “The Pearly Gates!”






Finally, let me show a possible XI that I would really like to see. This is not a particularly probable one, but if I would be the manager, that would be my preferred choice – to honor Ozil and Kolasinac, who never got themselves fully over the attack on their car a year ago, and – maybe connected to that – Mesut is more of a ghost player now, and Sead is on his way out, so this could be their swan song:






While the only personal difference here between the 2 last line-ups is the Willock-Ozil swap (and starting Bellerin as Cedric may not be fully fit), this is the good old 3-4-3 formation, including an AM this time, but I think they could deal with Liverpool’s midfield trio. In fact, if Torreira wasn’t leaving he could play behind Ozil to add extra stability and to filter the counter-attacks from the Reds.

Let’s have a great game with eye-catrching attacking football, and a well deserved Arsenal win.


p.s.I.: If you need some inspiration to get into the mood:

p.s.II.: While I am a huge admirer of Klopp, I don’t mind a few jokes at the expense of the Liverpool fans. Here is another one from St. Peter:

A man arrives at the gates of heaven, where St. Peter greets him and says: “Before I can let you enter I must ask you what you have done in your life that was particularly good.”
The man racks his brains for a few minutes and then admits to St Peter that he hasn’t done anything particularly good in his life.
“Well,” says St Peter, “have you done anything particularly brave in your life?”
“Yes, I have,”
 replies the man proudly, without hesitation.
St Peter asks the man to give an account of his bravery.
So the man explains, “I was refereeing this important match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield. The score was 0-0 and there was only one more minute of play to go in the second half when I awarded a penalty against Liverpool at the Kop end.”
 responded St Peter, “I agree that was a real act of bravery. But I can’t see that anywhere in our records. Can you perhaps tell me when this took place?”
 the man replied, “about three minutes ago.”

By PBarany

83 thoughts on “Arsenal v Liverpool Preview and Line-up: Four Starting-11 Options

  • Thanks for an entertaining post, GB.

    I am assuming that the second line-up is the one you most expect us to put out tonight?





    Are Sok and Soares fit to play? If so this could well be our line-up. I will check first though.

  • states that Soares and Big Sok are back in full training so that may mean that they indeed could start tonight. But is it not much more likely that Saliba will start giving his fitness levels?

  • I expect us to field a team that can beat Pool as we are only three games away from another final, and we just don’t want to lose again tonight if we can help it. So I am going for:
    Saliba – Gabriel – Tierney
    Bellerin – Ceballos/Joe – Xhaka – Saka
    Pepe – Eddie – Nelson/Auba*

    Auba if Arteta is very keen on winning this one but Nelson will be ready for this one too.

  • Here is GN5s revised list (for your competition):

    Leeds v Manchester City
    Chelsea v Crystal Palace
    Arsenal v Sheffield United
    Manchester United v Tottenham
    Southampton v W.B.A.
    RB Leipzig v FC Schalke 04

  • My predictions:

    Leeds v Manchester City: Away
    Chelsea v Crystal Palace: Home
    Arsenal v Sheffield United: Draw
    Manchester United v Tottenham: Draw
    Southampton v W.B.A.: Home
    RB Leipzig v FC Schalke 04: Home

  • That was a good read PB not least the info on Liverpool’s possible line up, I do wonder how strong each manager will go with his selection with Monday’s game in mind and the psychological effect on either club? I know that this competition is dismissed but just take a note of the line ups yesterday, Everton was almost at full strength, Man City had a lot of their big guns out as did Man Utd who were almost full strength. This is a winnable trophy and with Liverpool being so dominant it isn’t to be sniffed at.

    And let’s not forget the prize money involved, with everyone counting the penny’s can we afford to be too picky?

  • PB, I honestly can’t see any Arsenal player who has the possibility of a move away being on the flight to John Lennon Airport. So for me I’d discount Kolasinac for sure and probably Sokratis and Guendouzi.

  • The return of Soares would be very welcome as Bellerin needs to be at home tonight with his feet up, likewise Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney as we’ll need them fresh for Sunday.

    Definite starters for me are Nelson, Pepe, Willock, Nketiah, Gabriel, Saliba, Saka, Maitland Niles and Elneny.

    Possibles would be Leno or Runarsson or Macey, Luiz, Bola and Lewis.

    From the Academy I’d take Ballard, Cottrell, Olayinka, Cirjan, Clarke and Azeez.

    The shame is that tonight would have been the perfect stage for Foloran Balogun to display his talent but it seems that contracts, finance and ego are the barrier to that sadly…

  • the voice of reason this morning, Kev. It looks like you had a deep sleep with a beautiful dream about sweet, wet and hot… cups of teas whilst taking the biscuit! 🙂

  • My money for tonight is on this line-up:


    But I would rather see Xhaka or Ozil instead of Joe, with him coming on the pitch later to turn the screw on the pressing.

  • Ha ha ha, that’s spooky TA because I did indeed have a fabulous kip last night, but I haven’t a clue what I dreamed about although I was gasping for a cuppa when I got up… 😉

    Sadly I’d run out of biscuits.

    PB that is a great line up, we won’t go far wrong with that XI

    Lewis is a speed merchant, plays down the left and if we’re winning he might be a useful weapon against a team chasing the game?

  • Congrats for the hard work, pb
    There are many ‘Pool youngsters that I don’t know, but upfront, I’d be very surprised if Origi wasn’t picked tonight. The Jones in your lineup must be the lad who scored the winner in last season’s derby – I don’t know if he can play deeper, alongside Milner. If he does, they’ll have a strong attacking side at least.
    As for us, I’ll stick to my desired 4-2-3-1:
    Leno (I’m not sure our Viking’s ready yet, and anyway, what I’ve seen of him (very little tbh) in Ligue 1 doesn’t make me look forward to it)
    Soares-Holding (Saliba)-Gabriel-MNiles
    I’d really like mick not to get stuck with his 3-4-3. In that system Dani might well turn into an “assist prince” pretty soon.
    Such a front 4-6 could/should hurt their (probably) young defense deeply: I wish Reiss could “seize the day” at last, and if Pépé should choose to wake up a little bit tonight, I wouldn’t mind.

    By the way, pb, I posted the following comment to TA’s latest player ratings – not sure you read it
    Ferencvaros back in the CL. Don’t know if the club is dear to your heart, pb. My old man was born in ’24, and he often mentioned Honvéd as the formidable team of the 1950s.
    There’s this French documentary film maker, Jean-Christophe Rosé, whose “Onze Footballeurs en Or/”Eleven Golden Footballers” deals with the 1954 “should-have-been-champions” Hungary team:
    The film is truly remarkable, has it ever been shown in Hungary?

    TA, an “anvil” is “une enclume” in French; and there’s this expression I like, to make fun of poor dancers: “avoir le cul comme une enclume”; literally “to be anvil-assed”. As much as I like him as a football player, I must admit I think of this phrase sometimes when I watch Granit play, he’s so stiff – but his pass for Laca at the start of the move ending up with our goal Monday, was a true ray of light in what had been a rather dark night so far.
    Well, TA I preferred your Schubert suggestion – you might be turning me into what’ll finally look like a civilized creature: THIS is what I listened to when I was 15 (and I still like it – a lot);

    “And if I’m acting like a king/Well, that’s cause I’m a human being/And if I want too many things/Don’t you know that I’m a human being”

  • No question about that. 🙂
    I’m looking forward to seeing Mikel accepting Klopp’s congratulations on our behalf.

  • I don’t know why you are so confident, PB. Pool will put up a strong enough team as they are also just three wins away from a final at Wembley. But if we win then you will get the plaudits too 🙂

  • That is quite Rolling Stones like, LeG. I guess those lyrics helped you to justify having more than one girlfriend at a time…. 😉

    Xhaka has to be the anvil/anchor of the team, LeG. But there is more dance in him than you give him credit. I like that description though. If the arse doesn’t swing then the body does not dance. 🙂

  • Hi Le Gall, thanks for your kind words.

    I’m not really into Hungarian domestic football nowadays. When I was younger I was rooting for Honvéd – meaning that Ferencváros was the main enemy. Therefore I’m not emotionally involved in FTC’s (Ferencváros Torna Club) reaching the CL group stage. I’m familiar with a couple of their players only, as they are part of in the Hungarian national team – everybody else are foreign players (often called mercenaries here). Yeah, Hungary could be seen as a xenophobic country, especially if football is involved, but those foreign athletes still play better than our spoiled brats.

    Thanks for the link. I have never heard of that movie. Probably it was never shown in Hungary, or maybe I didn’t come across it. Looks interesting.

  • I’m confident because we should have won the game last year (I think we would have won 8 out of 10), and while both teams are stronger since last time Liverpool mostly got stronger in attack, but we have improved in a more balanced way.
    The Saliba-Luiz-Gabriel seems like a brutal defense, and the Nelson-Nketiah-Pepe is a killer attack force at the very least on par with a Jota-Origi-Minamino trio. It is up to our midfield to filter Liverpool’s attacks and supply our offense with good balls. Of which I’m not certain to be honest (as I said before: I’m not convinced on the forward passing skills of either Elneny or Willock), but if minimum 2 out of Ceballos, Saka, Xhaka (or maybe Ozil) gets involved, than we will score 3+ goals. And I just can’t seem to fathom conceding that much.

  • Saka with his first call-up to the Senior England National Team 🙂

    Will we ever see him given a chance to play at CAM/CM at Arsenal again?!

  • Nice one, pb. 🙂

    I would expect us to go with a lighter team as Carabao Cup might be a rather useless distraction from Premier League. We need to return to winning ways ASAP and Sheffield U must not get that draw TA has been predicting. 🙂

    As for the Hungarian football, I recall one of the games Honved were involved. It was one of the first games I ever watched, back in 1989. Vojvodina (Novi Sad) were the reigning champions of Yugoslavia and played Honved in the Champions Cup. Honved won 1-0 in the first leg, Vojvodina won the second 2-1 but went out on the away goal rule and that’s was the introduction of six-year-old me with that rule. 🙂 Vojvodina had a decent side with Siniša Mihajlović and Slaviša Jokanović being the most famous ones but they still finished 11th in the 1989-90.

    (Maybe I have mentioned it before: in the season 1988-89, Yugoslavia had tried to deal with suspicious draws by inventing a rather weird yet interesting solution: after a draw, teams would take penalties to decide which side gets that one point.)

  • Cheers PB! Love the confidence and I’m right there with you predicting a win – my prediction is 3-1 to the Arsenal in a cruel twist of fate 🙂

    My line-up prediction:


    I really hope Saliba gets a chance to play tomorrow, if not at least for the rest for Holding for Sunday. Haven’t a clue as to who would start at RWB since I do think Arteta will want to play Willock, but Cedric is the more natural RWB (maybe Willock instead of Ceballos?).

  • Admir, I am hoping for a win of course, but SU are a hard nut to crack and we will be favourites, which is a position I am often uncomfortable with… against hairy-arsed Northerns..

  • Saka with his first call up to the Senior England National Team!

    Do you all think we’ll ever get a chance to see him play at CAM/CM again at Arsenal?! Thought he looked good his first game out vs. Brighton at CM last season!

  • Yes TA, meant today!

    I’m more confident than I ought to be with Arsenal. Arteta has completely changed the mood for me, though I won’t be disappointed if we lose either. Just want us to give it our all and really try and take the game to them.

  • Wow Liverpool running out a pretty strong lineup today. Might need to adjust our predictions!

    Leaked lineup: Adrian, Neco, Rhys Williams, Virg, Milner, Grujic, Jones, Shaq, Mo, Jota, Minamino

  • Not too surprised by that, HH. Some experience in all three lines. We will do the same I reckon with Luiz, Xhaka and Auba/Laca/Willian

  • Don’t think that is an easy group for Pool, Kev. But the Chavs… I’d that a UL group? Looks like Juve and Barca have been given a pass… 🤨

  • looks like 4-2-3-1 to me:
    ceballos (willock)-xhaka
    pépé-willock (ceballos)-saka
    somewhat gutted for reiss, but that’s a strong side anyway; don’t know when we’ll be given a glimpse of saliba …

  • According to the visual line-ups at LiveScore, both teams play in 4-3-3 (as Willock is considered as a CM by both TransferMarkt and LiveScore).
    It is indeed a more balanced game than I hoped as Liverpool retains the services of its 2 best player, the PL’s best defender and one of the best wingers in the world. However we are not taking this fixture lightly either as we reenlist Leno, Xhaka and Ceballos from the first team (we might even include Rob here as he is as first team as it gets in this season). Our attacking trio are 63 years old combined (average: 21y), while Liverpool attacks with 4 players totaling 104 years (average: 26), but we should be dominating midfield. I hope it will be the key tonight.

    I am also gutted for Nelson, and puzzled for Saliba not even making the match-day team.
    Let’s hope for the best. I’m still confident to proceed to the quarter-finals, but a Kolasinac-Tierney and a Willock-Nelson substitution could further improve our efficiency.

    Update: now Livescore shows both team in 4-2-3-1 formation. The surprising positions are Salah (showed as CF) and Ceballos (showed as AM).

  • 3-4-3 it looks like
    pépé real LW of days gone by – might be a good idea actually
    willock RW i think ta suggested it not long ago
    well done
    come on lads

  • eddie hesitant 6 yards from goal, would you believe it??
    but adrian played very well – as did pépé on his left wing; mick might be up to something there

  • they try to bully us from the getgo – again; i start feeling like kev about them
    i’m watching this on my computer, and the sound id turned off because my wife’s watching tv 2 feet away from my desk
    so i don’t understand what was wrong with our great FK setup, which ended up with … a goal
    can someone please explain this to me??

  • As short as we are in midfield, It bothers me that we start our 2 best midfielders Ceballos and Xhaka in the Carabao cup. Should be at least Guendouzi (or Ozil) in this competition. We have real aspirations for top 4 and Europa league, and are dicking around with this midfield situation and possible additions….

    Some are errors in people management, if a club is going to play tough and shut out 2 midfielders who are still on the books, they usually have Liverpool depth or Man City budget to have plenty of other options.

    This is much more a problem of horrible ownership. I’ll take that back gladly if we add 2 midfielders. One would be a relief, but we’ll still be lacking even decent depth. This squad is shaped like a barbell, heavy in cost and numbers in the front and back, thin in the middle.

  • bukayo offside – except the replay shows clearly he was not; adrian had done very well – again – anyway
    dangerous FK by the left edge of our box – please not a goal now
    holy … fantastic save by bernd, and minamino should have done better on the rebound
    HT – we’re like a boxer saved by the gong

  • Now forgive me for being as biased as I unashamedly am, but the goal we had disallowed for a foul, did the Liverpool player not grab the Arsenal player and then throw himself over or should I gone to Spec Savers?

  • very brave half by the lads – this is a genuine cup game
    too often, we chase after the ball; we’re like sensei myagi in karate kid trying to catch a fly with his sushi sticks, except sometimes he suceeds, while we don’t
    while the ‘pool lads – ever tried to dribble past a german shepherd? i-m-p-o-s-s-i-b-l-e
    these ‘pool guys, they look like 11 of them, they always get the ball back
    all of our lads work their socks off, we can be proud of them, but we just don’t create enough
    rob-gabe/ kola (despite a horrendous headed backpass) and … pépé are my “main men”
    joe/eddie/bukayo try very hard, but keeping up with the ‘pool pace obviously takes a toll on them

  • I’m watching Sky Sports (on my computer), but the Saka offside seemed legit to me and the commentators.
    We are trying to do everything on the left side. De middle is non-existent, and the Willock-Soares partnership isn’t working too well. Kola is playing suprisingly mature again, and Holding did some calm things under pressure too. Xhaka is not as commanding as I expect from him, and Gabriel is less effective than he demonstrated in his first couple of games in an Arsenal jersey.
    Anyway this is a balanced tie so far, with many attempts but only a few clear chances. Let’d hope for a VvD-Gomez and a Willock-Nelson sub to improve our chances.

    Now LiveScore shows both team in 4-3-3 again. But Ceballos and Xhaka sit very deep to fight for midfield domination…

  • I’m quite pleased that it’s 0-0 with still everything to play for with no need for tactical switches, Willock is doing well and LG, you’ll soon begin to dislike that mob as much as me, you know like most Le Foot fans dislike PSG.

    The co commentator is a Scouser so turning the volume down to zero is an absolute pleasure.

  • marvelous save by bernd – again
    love the smile on his face once back up on his feet, kind of “is that the best you can do?” to vandijk

  • well; looks like fort arsenalamo all over again
    i don’t mind
    the lads are as brave gooners as any fan wants them to be
    they’ll make it eventually

  • dani out; mo in
    i’d really like to see dani further up the pitch some day
    having said that, mo’s presence alongside granit might give us a breather – we need it

  • eddie out, laca in
    in lyon, laca had an excellent good penalty record, but it’s been a very long time since he last took one …

  • so:
    they can punch our guys in the face
    they have the right to handle the ball in their box
    the refs make offsides up for them
    but they still can’t even beat us
    shootout it is

  • Great performance by Leno! My MOtM.
    Our win is not fully deserved, but not undeserved either.
    I’m proud of the defense, and Pepe played really mature there.

  • Great finish.
    Thank goodness we won and Willock’s penalty went in. I’d hate to see the vitriol he and elneny would have received. Both are whipping boys as is.

    Might shut up the “We should have kept Martinez!!!” calls. Leno is first class. MotM easy.

  • Good to go through. Really disliked the cynical fouls Pool made every time we escaped the press. We did well to hang in there, and what a performance by BL.

    Loved that AMN pen

  • Everyone over Emiexit now? 😎

    This wasn’t just a League Cup match. But another bit of tinder on a rivalry that will only burn hotter– between Arteta and Klopp. Neither manager wants to give the other an inch. And their charges are going to the mat for them every time they face the other– no matter the competition.

    Intriguing– and entertaining!


  • I was laughing as Ainsley Maitland Niles strolled up to take his penalty, I almost expected to see him stifling a yawn, I’ve never seen a more composed penalty taker.

    I had no doubt that he would score and I loved the way he smiled at Adrian after sending him the wrong way. If we had a big big game and it came down to a penalty then you’d be hard pushed not to get Ainsley to take it.

    It’s the first penalty shoot out I’ve watched for years and I actually enjoyed it – I must be getting old!

    Loved the result, I will be smiling for the foreseeable future….

  • And yes, I’ll admit that I wasn’t happy about seeing Martinez leave and there’s still some aspects of Leno’s game that he could improves but he won us that game tonight and all credit to him.

  • AMN is a crazy penalty taker. He was cool as a cucumber last year (same fixture), in the community shield shootout and tonight.
    Elneny’s penalty was a disaster though. But it is as much Arteta’s fault as Mo’s, What the hell was he doing there in the first place?

  • Watch out for Mourinho because he’s like a snake in the grass, I’m so glad we didn’t get Tottenham in the next round and Ancelotti will see this competition as a great chance to win something for Everton. It’s going to be a very intriguing quarter finals.

  • Funny, Kev–
    Here I was on the edge of having to ready myself for a video consult with one of my doctors– just as regulation ended. I had to move the match from my PC to the TV to use the webcam– while pausing the TV. So– I’m logged into the doc’s virtual waiting room– while watching the pens being tallied on a web-scoreboard in text-only– and it’s at 2-2. I know the first four are makes as they’re taken before Pool takes a 3-2 advantage… and the scoreboard doesn’t register a make for Arsenal– which meant we missed. Then the scoreboard paused for a longtime again– knowing now Pool had missed– saw Arsenal had scored to go up 4-3 (when CoolHandLuke-AMN made his). Then Pool levels– and Arsenal finally get the winner.

    That? Was tense. Then I unpaused and watched it happen. What fun– again! ⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽


  • It seemed to me that Arteta played a back four with 5 in midfield and Eddie as the loan wolf up front. Of course we had plenty of runners with Saka, Pepe and Willock all getting forward as often as possible which wasn’t that often. Pepe made some really great interventions with some clever toe pokes to interrupt Liverpool attacks at source. Liverpool still had the physical edge but not by much and the referee whilst not as useless as the idiot we had Monday, still favoured the Scousers, no wonder they never lose at home…

  • Was our disallowed goal a good goal because I didn’t see a foul and should we have had a penalty? It doesn’t matter now but the Scousers seem the chosen people in football terms.

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