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EFL Cup Wed. preview: Liverpool host Arsenal; Chelsea v. Man Utd

Liverpool FC v Arsenal FC - Premier League

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 24: Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates with Virgil van Dijk after scoring his team’s second goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield on August 24, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

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After five EFL Cup clashes were played on Tuesday, three more remain in the round of 16 on Wednesday, featuring six Premier League sides and a pair clashes between “big-six” sides.

[ EFL CUP: Man City cruise past Saints; Everton, Leicester into QF ]

First up, it’s PL leaders Liverpool hosting Arsenal at Anfield, where the two sides met back in August. Liverpool cruised to a 3-1 victory that day, extending their unbeaten run against the Gunners to nine games (all in the PL) since their last defeat in April 2015.

Jurgen Klopp’s side could be without superstars Mohamed Salah (ankle) and Virgil van Dijk (dead leg), should the manager opt to play it safe after the pair suffered minor injuries in the Reds’ 2-1 comeback victory over Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday. For Liverpool, winning on Wednesday is all about momentum as they attempt to keep alive their unbeaten start (11 games) to the domestic season (only loss to Napoli, in Champions League).

As for Arsenal, progression to the quarterfinals would provide a sense of normalcy and calm following the club’s latest crisis. Granit Xhaka has come under harsh scrutiny after he swore at fans and removed his shirt in response to being booed by his own fans as he was subbed off during the Gunners’ 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace on Sunday. The club’s captain is said to be “devastated and sad,” according to manager Unai Emery. Fortunately for Emery, the EFL Cup is the ideal time to rotate his squad and shield Xhaka from additional scrutiny.

[ MORE: Cryptic Zlatan Ibrahimovic hints at return to Spain ]

Meanwhile in London, a Chelsea side riding its best run of results all season (seven straight wins - all competitions) will welcome Manchester United to Stamford Bridge. Frank Lampard’s side beat Burnley 4-2 on Saturday, a game which featured the first goal (and hat trick) of Christian Pulisic’s Chelsea career. Given his standout performance on the weekend, Pulisic could find himself rotated out of the squad for Wednesday’s game with an eye toward facing Watford in PL play on Saturday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same luxury of squad depth these days, with the likes of Paul Pogba (ankle), Eric Bailly (knee), Nemanja Matic, Luke Shaw (hamstring), Axel Tuanzebe (hip) and Diogo Dalot (groin) all currently out injured. Recent results, however, favor Man United as the Red Devils are unbeaten in their last four meetings with the Blues, including a 4-0 destruction of Chelsea at Old Trafford in August.

Wednesday’s EFL Cup schedule

Liverpool v. Arsenal — 3:30 p.m. ET
Aston Villa v. Wolverhampton Wanderers — 3:45 p.m. ET
Chelsea v. Man United — 4:05 p.m. ET

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