Jürgen Klopp will be looking to lead Liverpool to a second League Cup final in as many seasons as they face Southampton on Wednesday night in the first leg of the semi-final.Both sides will be eager to establish an advantage before the reverse fixture on January 25th.
Liverpool have enjoyed a strong season thus far, providing the closest challenge to Antonio Conte’s men who top the Premier League. The Reds have been an attacking menace this season, netting a league high of 48 goals.
A front line of Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane has proved very productive for Jurgen Klopp, with the added unpredictability of their play making them a nightmare to defend against.
Adam Lallana has been one of the standout performers this season, playing a key role in everything Liverpool have done. The ex-Southampton man has netted a total of seven goals while registering seven assists – more productive than any of his previous seasons at the club. Lallana will undoubtedly have a key part to play as Liverpool come up against his former side.
Recent results have been somewhat frustrating for Liverpool, with the Reds failing to win a game since the turn of the year. Two back to back draws against Sunderland and Plymouth have stunted their momentum but Southampton will know just what the Reds are capable of when they’re in the mood.
Southampton will be no pushovers on Wednesday night with a place in the EFL Cup final up for grabs. They have produced a series of impressive performances so far in the competition, including an away win against Arsenal.
Despite a relatively average league campaign, the Saints have proven they are capable of seeing off fellow Premier League opposition with wins against Crystal Palace and Sunderland.
Claude Puel’s side were resolute when the two sides met at St Mary’s earlier this season. The Saints claimed a 0-0 draw in November and will be hoping to frustrate their opposition in a similar fashion on Wednesday.
Liverpool could receive a huge boost after Jürgen Klopp revealed a possible return to the squad for Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian was in terrific form prior to his injury and he could be the difference between the two sides over the course of the two legs.
Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan are expected to continue their partnership in defence, with Joel Matip only recently returning from an ankle injury, meaning the fixture will come too soon for him. Loris Karius is expected to retain his place in goal following the draw with Plymouth.
With Sadio Mane out of the tie due to his involvement in the African Cup of Nations, Jürgen Klopp could hand a start to both Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi, with Roberto Firmino completely the front three.
Southampton captain Jose Fonte won’t feature after handing in a transfer request. Jay Rodriguez is expected to lead the line for the Saints as he looks to get back to form following another lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Southampton won’t be an easy task for Liverpool by any means. The Saints are resolute and well drilled at the back and the absence of Sadio Mane will weaken Liverpool’s attacking threat. Nonetheless, if they can reproduce the kind of performance they showed against Manchester City earlier in the season, the Reds could head back to Anfield with a lead for the second leg.
Even a draw would be a good result if Liverpool can get themselves on the scoresheet to grab an away goal.
Predicted Score: Southampton 1-1 Liverpool
Written by Leanne P