If Monday’s 3-1 defeat to Liverpool reaffirmed anything for Arsenal it was that Mikel Arteta’s side are far more likely to lift silverware through the cups than the Premier League this season.
None but the most madly optimistic would have thought otherwise but equally Arsenal were looking back on that defeat angry that they had not ended Liverpool’s winning run at Anfield and convinced that the game might have gone rather differently had chances been taken.
They will hope to prove themselves right on their second visit to Merseyside even though both sides are likely to be heavily changed. Liverpool, in particular, used the previous round to blood youngsters much as they did when these two met in a thrillingly bizarre 5-5 draw at this stage of last season’s competition.
Arsenal are equally likely to rotate, particularly with the visit of Sheffield United to the Emirates Stadium, but Arteta has said that he will take the competition seriously and looks at it as a valuable piece of silverware in a season where the Premier League is likely to be out of reach.
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As such senior players who missed the starting XI on Monday are likely to come in three days later, meaning starts for Nicolas Pepe, Gabriel Magalhaes, Dani Ceballos and Eddie Nketiah.
Most intriguing of all is whether the two new signings yet to feature for Arsenal this season – Alex Runarsson and William Saliba – come into consideration. Arteta insists he is prepared to take his time with blooding the former and he may believe that it is better to wait until the group stages of the Europa League rather than placing a teenager up against the likes of Diogo Jota.
The same could be as just as true of Alex Runarsson.
Equally not using those two means relying heavily on the defenders who already played on Monday. Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Sead Kolasinac could step in but both are…