Southampton vs Liverpool Preview - EFL Cup Semi-Final

Southampton vs Liverpool Preview - EFL Cup Semi-Final

Saints’ skipper Jose Fonte will be left out of the squad for the midweek clash while Liverpool have been handed a major boost with Coutinho, Henderson, Milner and Matip injury update.

With eyes and mind involuntarily (and inevitably) fixed on the crucial Sunday clash against Manchester United which might propel Liverpool towards that elusive Premier League glory; Klopp will field a strong Reds lineup against Southampton having promised ‘many more finals’ to the Anfield faithful following that defeat against Seville in the Europa finale last year.

Both sides succumbed to tame draws in the FA Cup 3rd round but will look to gain an upper hand before the return leg at Anfield that takes place on 25th January.

The Saints were held to a 2-2 draw after Steven Naismith spoiled the party for Claude Puel’s men following an injury time equalizer. Likewise, the Reds were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw at Anfield and they will look to get back to winning ways having drawn their last two games against rather unfancied opponents, Sunderland and Plymouth Argyle.

ROAD TO THE SEMIS

Southampton defeated Arsenal 0-2 at the Emirates to earn a place in the semi-final of the 2016/17 English League Cup. Their run into the semis have been nothing short of impressive having edged past Crystal Palace and Sunderland in the rounds prior to their clash with the Gunners.

Liverpool started their EFL Cup campaign breezing past Burton Albion (5-0) and Derby County (3-0). Liverpool’s toughest test in EFL Cup came against Spurs in the round of 16 who they defeated 2-1 courtesy a classic Sturridge showing. Liverpool played their fringe players and academy graduates yet again in the quarters to overcome Leeds United by 2-0, Ben Woodburn becoming the youngest Liverpool goalscorer in their history.

TEAM NEWS

Southampton

  • Claude Puel has confirmed that Southampton skipper Jose Fonte will not feature in the squad to face Liverpool following a transfer request to (reportedly) force a move away to Manchester United.
  • Portuguese defender Cedric Soares might come back at Right Back for the Saints.
  • Jay Rodriguez is set to start for the Saints as he works his way back to full match fitness.
  • Soufiane Boufal, Charlie Austin, Matty Targett, Alex McCarthy and Jeremy Pied will all miss the clash through injury.

Liverpool

  •  Loris Karius is “pretty likely” to start in goal ahead of Simon Mignolet on Wednesday night, Klopp revealed.
  • Liverpool boss also confirmed that Brazilian Maestro Phillipe Coutinho will travel with squad to Saint Mary’s on Wednesday.
  • Makeshift Left-Back James Milner will be available for selection.
  • Skipper Jordan Henderson is “on a good way” following his heel injury, might as well find a place on the bench.
  • Summer arrival Joel Matip is back in training, his first step towards returning to the first team picture.
  • Marko Grujic was also seen training following a tendon injury.

STATS THAT MATTER

  • The last time these two met in the League Cup, Liverpool romped to a 6-1 win at St Mary’s Stadium, with Divock Origi netting a hat-trick.
  • Southampton beat Liverpool 3-2 last season, coming from 2-0 behind to stun the Reds, with now-Anfield man Sadio Mane scoring twice.
  • The sides played out a tame 0-0 draw last time they faced, back in November – again on the south coast.
  • Liverpool haven’t won in their last two visits to Southampton, they lost and drew 1 each.
  • Liverpool have 4 former Southampton players in Nathaniel Clyne, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Mane (off to Gabon playing for Senegal in AFCON).

KEY MEN

SOUTHAMPTON

Virgil Van Dijk – The Dutchman could simply walk into the biggest clubs of English football considering the form that he is in at the moment. Virgil Van Dijk has been on the radar of the biggest clubs across Europe (Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool), understandably so. The £50m rated sweeper has already amassed 4 goals this season, the last one coming off against Norwich earlier this week. Earlier in November-2016, Van Dijk was rock solid at the back to earn his side a respectable 0-0 at Saint Mary’s. He denied a threatening Liverpool attack wave after wave that earned him a MOTM performance against the Reds. If he stays on top of his game, Liverpool might find it difficult to break the deadlock while Van Dijk could be quite menacing during dead-ball situations going forward.

LIVERPOOL

Adam Lallana – Once upon a time, the boyhood Everton fan who joined the Merseyside rivals for a sum of £25m used to be continuously substituted around 60-70 minutes as he experienced a rather difficult start to the Anfield career. January-2017, and Adam Lallana is unarguably the most improved player in the Premier League. Lallana has been covering more ground than anybody else in the Premier League even in the most congested period of the English footballing scenario. The marathon man ran 8 miles against Manchester City and another 8.21 miles against Sunderland, less than 44 hours separating the two games. He has been effervescently consistent week in week out having registered 7 goals and 7 assists already this season. Besides anchoring the quick-silver Liverpool attack, he has been getting into dangerous areas more often than not owing to his clever movements on and off the ball. Most importantly, he has developed a knack of finding the back of the net as he remains an epitome of Klopp’s gegenpressing model. Former Southampton captain must definitely have a thing or two to prove to the Saint’s crowd come Wednesday night.

PREDICTION

Southampton were really defensive during the 0-0 tie back in November, which is quite understandably Puel’s prerogative. The two legged tie is a different game altogether and Southampton will look to take something with them to Anfield, something more than just a draw.

Jurgen Klopp will be vying to come back with a result from St Mary’s, that is the only way he knows to play.

Liverpool have a fixture congestion issue that could see them playing 9 matches this January. They will look to put this fixture to bed away as the return leg remains cruelly sandwiched between games at Anfield against Swansea (Premier League) and Wolves (FA Cup 4th round, if Liverpool win the replay against Plymouth).

Predicting Liverpool to get back to winning ways with Firmino and Lallana running riot and Daniel Sturridge getting on the scoresheet to give Liverpool a 0-2 victory. Loris Karius to have a solid game between the sticks and hopefully a cameo from our little magician, Coutinho.