Arsenal are optimistic their Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Liverpool will go ahead as planned on Thursday night.

The Gunners successfully appealed to the Premier League to have Sunday's north London derby away to Tottenham called off in the absence of a number of players.

Injuries, suspension, coronavirus cases and losing players to the Africa Cup of Nations saw Mikel Arteta's ranks depleted enough for the league to postpone their scheduled fixture.

However, the PA news agency understands there have been no additional Covid-19 cases in the past two days and a couple of players are now likely to be fit following short-term injury problems.

The rules for the Carabao Cup, governed by the EFL rather than the Premier League, also offer a wider scope to those players who are deemed to be available for the competition.

The first leg finished goalless at Anfield last week, with Granit Xhaka sent off in the first-half for the visitors.
The match at the Emirates Stadium should have been the first of the two-legged semi-final but it was rearranged after a number of positive coronavirus cases for the Reds.

Chelsea await the winners of Thursday's tie in the final, scheduled to take place at Wembley on 27 February.

Antonio Conte called the decision to call of Sunday's north London derby "strange and surprising".

The Premier League accepted Arsenal's request to call the game off despite the Gunners having only one confirmed Covid-19 case.

He said: "I think that if the Premier League decides to postpone games for injury it means that maybe they have to try to make a best schedule and to reduce many to play games, and if they don't want injuries and if they don't want the risk to postpone for injuries.

"But I repeat, this is the first time in my life that there is a league that has postponed the game for injuries. It is very strange and surprising for this."