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Mikel Arteta “uncertain” over numbers vs. Liverpool – but no plans to postpone

Mikel Arteta has described Arsenal‘s situation ahead of the League Cup semi-finals as “extremely volatile,” with injuries, COVID-19 and the AFCON impacting his squad.

Last week saw Liverpool forced to postpone their first-leg trip to the Emirates due to an outbreak of Covid at the training ground in Kirkby, though the majority of those have proved to be false positives.

The Reds sealed a 4-1 win over Shrewsbury since then, and prepare for the rearranged opening semi-final clash at Anfield with a strong squad.

For Arsenal, however, the visit to Merseyside on Thursday comes with Arteta “uncertain” which players will be at his disposal as Covid cases rises.

  • Out: Aubameyang, Pepe, Partey, Elneny
  • Doubts: Xhaka, Smith Rowe, Tomiyasu
  • Loaned: Maitland-Niles, Balogun

  • Granit Xhaka is a doubt after contracting the virus last week, while playmaker Emile Smith Rowe and right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu have picked up fitness issues.

    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 20, 2021: Arsenal's Alexandre Lacazette during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

    Meanwhile, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe, Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny are at the Africa Cup of Nations and the club have sanctioned loans for Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Folarin Balogun, leaving Arsenal short of midfield and attacking options.

    “In the last week or so we lost so many players for many different reasons and we are trying to adapt to that,” Arteta told reporters on Wednesday.

    “I will use the players that we have and make the most out of it.”

    The Arsenal manager described the situation as “extremely volatile and uncertain,” but stressed that his and the club’s intention is to fulfil the fixture as scheduled.

    “You can never guarantee anything because you know things can change dramatically in 10 seconds when the doctor comes to the door and gives you the news, and we have experienced that already twice this season,” he said.

    “Our willingness is always to play.”

    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 20, 2021: Arsenal's manager Mikel Arteta is shown a yellow card during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

    Arteta was also asked about Liverpool’s high volume of false positives, amid suspicions from outside Anfield over their timing before the first leg.

    “It’s something that is not in our control,” the Spaniard said.

    “The EFL is responsible to check every single player’s status and then make the decision whether the game is played or not.

    “The decision was to postpone the match and I’m sure if that was the case, then they had the right arguments to do so.”

    Possible Arsenal XI: Ramsdale; Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tierney; Sambi Lokonga, Patino; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Lacazette

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