The Carabao Cup is traditionally a competition used for rotation, to rest first team players and blood youngsters.
The semi finals in particular fall during the most hectic time of the excruciating Christmas schedule of English football.
It’s a nice competition to win, but it is the smallest priority for teams with title or European aspirations. Nobody really minds losing in the Carabao Cup, unless perhaps they get to the final.
Liverpool postponed the first leg of the semi final against Arsenal, mostly for Covid reasons, which we must take them at the word for. Although there was undoubtedly an element of not wanting to have to deal with it at the time.
Jurgen Klopp hates the competition. He would scrap it and sell it for parts given half the chance. His Liverpool team will compete on Thursday night, but probably not with the determination of Arsenal.
Arsenal went down to ten men in the first leg and earned an astoundingly hard-fought 0 – 0 draw. Their players were unable to walk at the final whistle.
This, combined with the fact Liverpool postponed the first leg, means that Arsenal want to win this game.
Arsenal themselves postponed Sunday’s North London Derby, and found themselves criticized as a result. All of this feeds into a healthy ‘us VS them’ mentality that could potentially spur their young team on.
Although it is more important for Arsenal, they normally don’t care much about the League Cup either. However, after the way the first leg played out, they will see it as a genuine opportunity to beat a big team and progress to the final and a chance to win some silverware.
Mikel Arteta was bullish in his pregame press conference. If his team can replicate that energy on the pitch, they could pull off a gratifying cup upset.