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Carabao Cup: Depleted Liverpool Host Arsenal

Both Liverpool and Arsenal will be missing key players for the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita are at the Africa Cup of Nations, as are Arsenal quartet Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe, Mohamed Elneny and Thomas Partey.

Thiago Alcantara (hip) and Divock Origi (knee) remain absent for Liverpool.

Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka (Covid-19) will be assessed, as will Emile Smith Rowe (groin) and Takehiro Tomiyasu (calf).

Regarding his club’s selection problems before Thursday’s game at Anfield, Gunners boss Mikel Arteta said: “It is extremely volatile and uncertain. In the last week or so we lost so many players for different reasons and we’re trying to adapt to that.

“There are some injuries, Covid and players that have to be away for the Africa Cup of Nations.

“It can change in 10 seconds when the doctor gives you bad news, but our willingness is always to play.”

Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold and goalkeeper Alisson have returned to training after Covid absences, while left-back Andy Robertson has overcome a knock sustained at the weekend.

‘A false positive is a positive test’

The match at Anfield was originally scheduled to be the second leg, but last week’s tie at Emirates Stadium was rearranged after Liverpool had to close their training complex following a number of Covid cases, although some of them turned out to be false positives.

The EFL has said it will not be investigating the postponement and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said the matter was not of their own making.

“A false positive is a positive test,” he said. “You get a test result back positive and, when you are able to do a retest a day, a day and a half later, you get a result that makes it look like a false positive because this test was a negative.

“It doesn’t change anything for your quarantine but you need to prove it is wrong or right so you have to do a third test and between the first and second and second and third tests you cannot use the players.”

Liverpool have now lost home advantage for the second leg, which will be played in London on 20 January and Arteta has refused to criticise the decision to postpone the first leg.

“It’s something that’s not in our control,” said the Gunners boss.

“The EFL is responsible to check every single player’s status and make the decision whether the game is played or not. The decision was to postpone the match and I’m sure they had the right arguments to do so.

“We trust every test is going to be as reliable as possible. It is always going to be a percentage that might get the results wrong.

“First of all, you have to trust the people who do it, that it’s done in the right way and we have the right equipment or the best possible equipment.”

Tottenham and Chelsea play in the second leg of the other semi-final on Wednesday (19:45 GMT), with the Blues holding a 2-0 advantage after the first leg at Stamford Bridge.

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