Morning all.

The semi-final draw for the League Cup took place last night, right after Leicester City allowed a 3-1 lead to slip by so that Liverpool could beat them on penalties and WestHam weren’t able to be Toots. Chelsea knocked out Brentford. Arsenal will now face Liverpool leaving Chelsea and Toots to battle it out for a trip to Wembley.

Arsenal and Liverpool have been here before and just recently too. In 2019 and 2020 and both ties needed penalties to decide who progressed.

Arsenal have won the League Cup just twice in their history, 1986/87 and 1992/93 which is pretty poor in comparison to our 14 FA Cup victories. Liverpool though have eight League Cup trophies to brag about, the most recent in the 2011/12 season. However, they only half the number of FA Cups and one of those should never have been won.

The two sides have faced each other in this competition 16 times over the years. In 2019, the tie finished 5-5 after what was a bonkers game under Unai Emery. After going behind early, a Mustafi own goal, we went 3-1 up.  3-1 became 3-2 Gabriel Martinelli conceded a penalty which really never was. Ainsley Maitland-Niles made it 4-2 but Liverpool weren’t giving up. Oxlade-Chamberlain and Origi brought the scores level before Joe Willock gave us the lead again on 70 minutes. With very little time left on the clock, all we needed to do was hold on. We didn’t and lost on penalties.

Just over a year ago, both teams went head to head again in the same competition and it was everything the previous year’s game was not. Having played Liverpool at Anfield just a few days before in the league and losing 3-1, I doubt many Arsenal fans expected us to come away with anything. But, we did. 0-0 at full time and a penalty shootout in which Bernd Leno was the hero. Kind of.

So here we are again but being the semi-final, the tie is over two legs, the first of which is at The Emirates during the week commencing 3 January with the second leg during the following week. In between the two League Cup matches, we go to Nottingham for our first FA Cup fixture this season.

Both Antonio Conte and Jurgen Klopp have said they’d prefer the semi-final to be just a one match fixture, Klopp has even suggested if it took place at The Emirates, he wouldn’t care.

In just eight days time, the January transfer window opens. By then, it’s likely that all of the Arsenal players on international duty for the ACON will have departed. The tournament kicks off on the 9th January and I think players are expected to arrive in Cameroon 13 days before that date which by my maths means our Boxing Day fixture will be the last for Thomas Partey, Nicolas Pepe, Mo Elneny and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Thomas Partey is the only one to feature regularly in the Premier League but, come the domestic cup fixtures, we’ll miss both Elneny and Pepe. Fine, we have AMN and Sambi Lokonga to come in in midfield but with three cup fixtures and five league matches to be played between Boxing Day and the 22nd January, it’s going to be tough.

That’s why Klopp had a rant after last nights fixture. Premier League clubs are playing on the 26th of December, the 28th and then again on New Years Day. Whoever thought that was a good idea is bonkers. I would say it’s the same for all clubs but I’m pretty sure both Manchester clubs have an extra day of rest between their festive fixtures.

The next few weeks are going to be tough for Mikel Arteta as he’ll have to juggle his squad around in attempt to keep them all fit. There’s talk about bring back the five substitutes rule which would be good I think. Apparently there’s a meeting between the PL bosses and managers today where that very topic could be discussed.

See you in the comments.