Our English football scribe takes a look at Wednesday night's second-leg EFL Cup tie between Liverpool and Southampton.
Jurgen Klopp will know the value of silverware, having been the man who single-handedly resurrected the flailing hopes of Borussia Dortmund. His need is amplified by the fact that their push for a first Premier League title was severely dented by Swansea City on Saturday. Southampton are a side who have seen their fortunes take a turn for the better of late. They have won three of their last five, including that 1-0 victory over Liverpool in the corresponding fixture at St Mary’s. It must be said, Southampton played Liverpool off the park that night and Klopp will be all too aware of the threats that the Saints pose.
Liverpool v Southampton | Wednesday 25 January | Anfield | 22:00
To Win (90 Mins)
Liverpool 5/10 | Draw 32/10 | Southampton 52/10
Since the departure of Mane to the Afcon, Liverpool have yet to win a league game. In fact, their only victory came in that inauspicious victory over Plymouth. To tell you the truth, it actually looks like their players are jaded. They shouldn’t be - especially considering the fact that they have no European football. I think that Klopp’s insistence on trying to play the same players every week has backfired in some areas. Adam Lallana - seemingly incandescent a month ago - looks leggy and shot. I think that Klopp will need to strike a careful balance in this match, knowing that the pesky away goal rule could all but end their chances should they get sloppy.
So I expect them to start the same midfield three that they have persisted with. Wijnaldum, Can and Henderson need to address their defensive responsibilities, especially with the massive counterattacking threat offered by the likes of Tadic and Redmond. That’s where I see Liverpool struggling this week. They will press forward in their inimitable style, but will Henderson and co remember to fill the spaces vacated by all the players bombing forward? Southampton are a side brimming with counterattacking ability. And remember, one goal means that Liverpool will need to score three. Coutinho hasn’t fully recaptured his prime fitness and may be used as an impact player off the bench.
The loss of Virgil Van Dijk this week will come as a huge blow for this fixture, especially giving Jose Fonte’s departure to West Ham. Young Stephens will come in alongside Yoshida and will face a baptism of fire against Liverpool. Davies should return after a minor injury to midfield, with Hojbjerg likely starting off the bench. ard-Prowse was magnificent against Leicester and there are few players in the entire league with a better set-piece delivery than this guy. And that will be especially useful considering Liverpool penchant for completely botching dead-ball scenarios.
Despite their defensive inexperience, it’s the multi-dimensional aspect of their attack which leads me to favor their progression. They have the dead-ball pyrotechnics of Ward-Prowse, but also have massive counterattacking potential. Long, Redmond and Tadic have a lethal concoction of pace and skill that will catch out those ill-disciplined Liverpool midfield runners.
Verdict: Matchbet + BTTS - Liverpool Win & Yes 15/10
Liverpool may just have the quality to sneak the result, but can you really see Liverpool not conceding?