Soccer

Martin Odegaard absence explained as Arsenal star misses Carabao Cup tie vs Liverpool

Nottingham Forest v Arsenal pictures

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Arsenal will be without Martin Odegaard for the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final against Liverpool tonight after the influential midfielder tested positive for Covid. The Gunners will be looking to bounce back with a good performance at Anfield after being knocked out of the FA Cup by Championship side Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

Arsenal were supposed to play the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final at the Emirates Stadium last Thursday, before travelling to Merseyside for the second leg tonight.

But last week’s encounter was postponed after an apparent Covid outbreak in the Liverpool ranks.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp later revealed that all but one of the cases ended up being a false positive – but the match had already fallen by the wayside by the time that information had become available.

That means Arsenal will now enjoy the benefit of having home advantage for the deciding game.

Gunners boss Mikel Arteta named a strong side for the semi-final clash, with the majority of players who started against Manchester City in the Premier League being handed a place once again.

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In fact, Odegaard is one of just three players to drop out of the side which lost to the Citizens on New Year’s Day after contracting the virus.

Summer signing Takehiro Tomiyasu also misses out with a calf injury, while Thomas Partey is unavailable as he’s playing at the African Cup of Nations.

Arsenal will be looking to reach the Carabao Cup final for the first time since 2018, when they lost 3-0 to Manchester City.

Liverpool, meanwhile, could reach the showpiece event for the first time since the 2016 campaign if they can overcome Arsenal over two legs.

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On that occasion the Reds lost to Manchester City after a penalty shootout.

Klopp’s men will be looking to exact revenge on Arsenal after losing to the Gunners in the fourth round last season.

That game was also decided by a penalty shootout as Joe Willock scored the winning spot kick.

Odegaard’s absence could be a significant one for Arsenal as the former Real Madrid player has started to have an increasingly positive impact on his side.

The 23-year-old scored in three consecutive Premier League games at the start of December and then provided three assists during matches against Leeds and Norwich either side of Christmas Day.

His performances helped Arsenal climb to fourth in the Premier League table at the end of last year, although they have since been leapfrogged by West Ham.

And Arteta will be hoping the player will be fit to return as soon as possible as the games continue to come thick and fast.

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