Preparation for the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg has already been troublesome for Arsenal, with two defeats to kick the year off the least of their concerns.
Whatever happens with that move, however, won’t be of any help to them on Thursday night against Jurgen Klopp’s side, who successfully saw the originally scheduled first leg postponed due to a highly questionable number of ‘false positive’ Covid tests.
Having only one senior midfielder to select from in the 1-0 FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest, the positive news for Arsenal is that Granit Xhaka has recovered from Covid in time to be available for this huge clash.
Arsenal handed triple injury nightmare vs Liverpool with Martin Odegaard, Takehiro Tomiyasu & Emile Smith Rowe all unavailable for Carabao Cup
As per Goal, that’s where the good news stops.
Arsenal were already sweating on the availability of Emile Smith Rowe and Takehiro Tomiyasu, and neither of the pair has been passed fit in time to travel to Anfield. But to makes matters even worse, there will be no Martin Odegaard either.
The Norway captain was ‘unable to report for training’ at London Colney in the build up to the match and was therefore not part of the squad which set off the Merseyside. It’s not explained what the issue is, but in the current age one can expect it is likely Covid related. If so, that will rule him out of the North London Derby.
It’s not even known whether or not the injured pair will be back for that huge Premier League clash. This is descending into a selection nightmare.
As for Thursday, it throws a spanner in the works with Arteta not able to call upon either of his recognised No. 10’s. There could be a change of shape to manage the absences, or Bukayo Saka could be moved centrally with Gabriel Martinelli out on the right and, perhaps, Eddie Nketiah out on the left.
Already set to be up against it with the previous absences, as well as Liverpool conveniently getting all their players back in time for this one after the previous postponement, the latest news comes as a hammer blow to the Gunners’ chances of reaching Wembley.
Fortunately it is over two legs, so the hope at this stage may turn to just ensuring Arsenal aren’t well out of the tie come the return leg.