40 min: This terrible match desperately needs someone to run off to the toilet.
38 min: Jones amuses himself by performing a rabona cross. But he doesn’t put quite enough levity on it, so it fails to beat the first man.
36 min: I’m not saying this match is becoming almost unbearably boring, but even the fake fans have gone very quiet. they’re probably on their fake phones reading fake news.
34 min: Jones unloads one from the corner of the box. It bounces just before Leno, who holds it without any trouble.
32 min: Jones and Salah conspire down the right and briefly threaten to penetrate the visiting defence, but Arsenal tighten up smartly to slow Liverpool down and eventually repel them.
30 min: Despite a bright enough opening, the first half hour has been generally dreary.
28 min: Salah receives the ball just inside the Arsenal half in a central position. Then he dabs a useful ball towards Jota, but Holding strains to head it clear.
26 min: Xhaka releases Saka with lovely pass down the left. The winger delivers a nice cross towards Nketiah, but Rhys Williams dives in to head clear.
24 min: The game is going through a lull. “Was Christopher Lee an Arsenal fan and is their away kit a homage to his Dracula?” wonders Tom Gould. I don’t know about his football allegiances but I know Lee was a big fan of heavy metal – and even made an epic contribution to the genre – so perhaps he approves of Klopp’s style?
20 min: Milner improvises quickly to poke the ball away from Willock after a hefty touch in the centre circle by Van Dijk.
18 min: Jota tries to race past Holding down the left but the defender does well to unsettle him, and a heavy touch gives Arsenal a throw-in.
15 min: Minamino booked for a late tackle on Saka.
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14 min: Arsenal try to tip-tap their way out from the back and make it about 10 yards out of their box before they are engulfed by men in red.
12 min: Jota skews a shot wide from eight yards after clever work on the left by Jones and Grujic. The ball came at Jota very fast and he just couldn’t adjust his foot quickly enough to guide the shot on target.
11 min: Wilson pngs over an in-winging corner . Gabriel beats van Dijk to it at the near post and heads it out for another one, which Leno punches to safety.
8 min: A dangerous attack by Arsenal! They got Pepe free down the left wing and he drove to the byline before pulling back to a teammate, who cleverly eschewed the shot and pass it sideways to Nketiah. Adrian did superbly to get out quickly to the forward and then tip the ball away as Nketiah tried to take it around him.
6 min: Salah plays a risky pass across the face of his own box and is relieved to see Van Dijk welly it clear before Nketiah can intercept.
4 min: Xhaka almost dispossesses Grujic near half-way but the youngster keeps his cool and holds off the Arsenal captain before recycling possession.
3 min: Liverpool zip the ball around well, with Grujic and Neco Williams getting some nice, confident early touches.
2 min: It’s already clear that Liverpool intend pressing as demonically as their first team did on Monday, and Arsenal will try to play their way through it again.
Klack, klack, klack. The players stroll down the tunnel and out on the the Anfield lawn. Liverpool are clad in their familiar red; Arsenal are wearing that bathroom tile-inspired away kit.
The managers pre-match thoughts
Arteta: “We reviewed [Monday’s] game and there are thing we have to adjust. Most importantly, we know the levels you have to be at individually and collectively to come here and compete.”
Klopp: “We’ve made some changes but we’ve kept some boys in. They look really good from a physical point of view. Mo looks really good. Virg, we will make the change again at half-time if we can.”
“I don’t really care what happens in this game, there’s no way there’s going to be a goal as good as the one Saïd Benrahma scored about 10 minutes ago against Fulham,” hollers JR from Illinois. “You should stop what you’re doing and find a way to watch it. Everyone should.” Brentford have just beaten Fulham 3-0. Perhaps Tony Khan will try to buy Benrahma? Someone certainly should.
“Evening Paul, do we know what constitutes handball for tonight’s festivities?” asks Gary Byrne. No ned to worry about that, Gary, I hear both teams will be wearing club-issue straitjackets.
“I think it will be very interesting to see Minamino playing in the role that Firmino has cemented himself into in this Liverpool team,” reckons Mike Gleeson. “Harry Wilson seemingly playing at centre midfield is also a curious decision, but it seems to be the only place for him in this Liverpool team especially with the signing of Diogo Jota.” Indeed, Jota could also play that Firmino role.
If you’re hoping to be pleasured aurally today, you might want to get a load of this:
“Still no William Saliba!” fumes Will Butler. “What’s the point in spending so much money on a player if you’re never going to use him?” Steady on there, Will. Just because he hasn’t featured in the first few weeks of the season doesn’t mean he’s never going to be used. Don’t forget he’s only 19 and is arriving in a new league and country off the back off an iffy last season with Saint Etienne – it’s sensible to give him time to prepare, on the training ground and elsewhere, before pitching him into action. No sense in deploying him before he’s ready so that everyone can write him off as a bad buy.
“Salah and Van Dijk?” gasps Patrick Crumlish. “Interesting. Does Virg ever get a rest? That Champions League schedule is going to be intense.” It’s curious alright, though I imagine Van Dijk will only play the first half, like at Lincoln. Same for Salah, most likely.
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“Still no sign of Rhian Brewster, even on the bench,” notes Robert Lin. “I haven’t heard any real news about a transfer either for a week or so. What’s going on? Big fall-out with Klopp?” The signs are that he will leave the club before the closure of the transfer window, either on loan or permanently. But that would be for financial and developmental reasons rather than because of any fall out; indeed, word is that Liverpool still rate him so highly that they would like a buy-back clause to be included if they were to sell him.
Jürgen Klopp has made plenty of changes to the sides that started Monday’s Premier League victory but, for the second round in a row, Virgil Van Dijk is in the XI for this competition. Mohamed Salah also starts, with Jota and Minamino completing a slick-looking attack. There’s a pair of teenages Williamses in defence in the form of Rhys and Neco. As for Arsenal, Gabriel comes into central defence, Cedric Soares gets his first start of the season and Mesut Ozil may be considering signing up for pottery night classes.
Liverpool: Adrian; N Williams, R Williams, Van Dijk, Milner; Grujic, Jones, Wilson; Minamino, Jota, Salah,
Subs: Kelleher, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Gomez, Robertson, Origi, Elliot
Arsenal: Leno; Soares, Gabriel, Holding, Kolasinac; Willock, Ceballos, Xhaka; Pépé, Nkeitah, Saka
Subs: Runarsson, David Luiz, Tierney, Elneny, Maitland-Niles, Nelson, Lacazette
Referee: K Friend
Monday’s Premier League joust between these two teams was so good that no one should complain about the sides doing it again just three days later. Except, of course, they are not really going to be the same sides, as both managers are likely to make many changes. But the style and spirit should remain the same, at least, and we are easily amused in these terrible times. So here we are now, Liverpool and Arsenal, entertain us!
Mikel Arteta actually fielded a pretty strong team in the last round, an impressive win at Leicester. Top performers that day included Eddie Nkettiah, Reiss Nelson and Bukayo Saka, who may get a chance to impress again, which would be fitting on the day Saka was summoned to the England squad. While Arsenal were winning at the King Power, Liverpool were laying waste to Lincoln City, with Takumi Minamino and Curtis Jones among the many goalscorers. We await today’s lineup, then, with the confidence that even if each manager omits their top guns, there will be plenty of exciting talent in action.