The first-leg of Semi-Final 2 of the EFL Cup will take place on Friday 14th January, between Arsenal and Liverpool. The fixture was rescheduled after a Covid-19 outbreak in the Liverpool camp last week. However, the Gunners now face a concern as three of their major players could miss the contest.
Mikel Arteta’s side face a major setback after getting knocked out of the FA Cup in the third round by Nottingham Forest. Several players were unavailable for the game due to multiple reasons. Hence, the current cup holders struggled to have any final output against the Championship team.
Meanwhile their fixture against Jurgen Klopp’s side is on the horizon, the absentee problems seem to worsen. Adding to the list, trio Emile Smith Rowe, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Granit Xhaka could all be unavailable, as feared by Arteta.
How can the trio’s absence affect the EFL Cup tie for Arsenal
The Gunners will have the following players leaving for their respective AFCON duties: Nicolas Pepe, Mohamed Elneny, Thomas Partey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Now the exclusion of the new trio is likely to hamper Mikel Arteta’s winning hopes.
Emile Smith Rowe is currently facing a recurring groin injury. The Englishman has evolved massively this season and has become a great asset for the Gunners. The midfielder’s numbers are a proof of his output, where in 18 Premier League appearances this season, he has 8 goals and 2 assists. (stats via TRANSFERMARKT)
The team’s first choice right-back Tomiyasu, is currently dealing with a calf problem. The Japan international has been vital in the North London outfit’s season comeback. Even though he does not pack a huge stat pad, he still averages 1.8 tackles per game and makes 80.5% of his attempted passes. (stats via WHOSCORED)
Speaking in a press conference about the various injuries, Arteta said:
“Again, it depends how they evolve. They were injured. We have to see in the next few days how they are.”
As for Granit Xhaka, the Switzerland international is positive for Covid-19. The CDM has been a great support in the centre for Arteta’s team on both ends of the pitch. His physical style of play provides a pivot for the defence, while his passing precision helps in connecting players in each direction. However, his partnership with Partey will be highly missed, as both players remain unavailable.
With so many players doubtful, the manager has a real task at hand. A lack of squad depth could prove to be troublesome as the North London derby will take place just two days after this fixture.
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