The second of the EFL Cup semi finals takes place on Wednesday night, with Liverpool visiting Southampton for the first leg of their last four tie. The Reds manager Jurgen Klopp fielded Liverpool’s youngest ever starting line up in the 0-0 FA Cup draw at Anfield with Plymouth, a key indication of his intentions both for this game and Sunday’s huge Premier League clash with Manchester United. For Southampton the build up to this match has been overshadowed by the news that captain Jose Fonte has been left out of the squad, ahead of a prospective move away from St Mary’s.
The Saints lost the lead twice in the 2-2 draw at Norwich in the FA Cup over the weekend, and although not on the losing side, it’s been an alarming passage of form in recent weeks. That draw was preceded by home defeats to Spurs and West Brom, and a 3-0 loss at Everton. Liverpool won 6-1 here at the quarter final stage of this competition last season, and goals should be on the menu again despite this being the first leg.
Trouble on the South Coast
It’s been a tough time for new Southampton boss Claude Puel, who has seen his side go four games without victory since the 3-1 derby defeat of Bournemouth. The likes of Redmond and Rodriguez were left out of the starting line up against Norwich. presumably so that they will be fresh for this game, but the absence of Jose Fonte is a big blow. The Portuguese international has reportedly handed in a transfer request and looks set to leave the club in the January transfer window. He had been heavily linked with Manchester United after Portugal’s success at Euro 2016, and that move could be on the cards.
Worryingly, his presence in the starting line up didn’t prevent the Saints conceding four at home to Spurs in the Premier League, nor three away at Everton, but most Southampton fans would tell you the defence is stronger when he is a part of it. Virgil Van Dijk is his natural replacement, and he will probably start alongside Yoshida at the heart of the Saints defence.
Klopp’s Squad Rotation
Jurgen Klopp has made no secret of the fact that he dislikes the hectic schedule of the English game, and matches have come thick and fast over the festive period. He elected to make no less than ten changes to his starting line up in the FA Cup against Plymouth, putting out the youngest side in Liverpool history. In hindsight some may view the decision as an error considering his team now has a replay to contend with, but if the first-teamers come back in and get a result on Wednesday night, it may prove to have been a sensible move.
That draw was the Reds second in succession after a 2-2 stalemate at Sunderland in the Premier League, but the 2nd placed side won the previous four, including victories over Everton and Manchester City. With the likes of Lallana, Firminho and Mane to come back in for this game, Liverpool look strong-handed in this first leg.
Over 2.5 goals instantly makes appeal at +105 with Marathonbet in this match.
The bet would have landed in each of Southampton’s last five games – in all of which they’ve conceded at least two goals. Over 2.5 goals would also have been a winner in seven of Liverpool’s last ten away games, with Klopp’s team scoring at least two in each of those seven.
With their captain and senior central defender out of the picture, Southampton will struggle to contain Liverpool, but the Saints have only failed to score once in the last five and are good value to notch against a Jurgen Klopp side which will awlways give up chances. With the first leg at home as well, Southampton would dearly love to have something to take to Liverpool for the second leg.
With that in mind, it may also pay to have a punt on Liverpool to win and both teams to score at +350 with William Hill.
That’s been a fairly common occurrence this season for Liverpool, and although they’ve tightened up at the back in recent weeks – keeping clean sheets at Everton and Middlesbrough, away wins at Chelsea, Swansea and Palace have all been secured with at least one goal against.
Southampton vs Liverpool – Over 2.5 Goals
Wednesday 11th January, 19:45 GMT
Liverpool to Win & Both Teams to Score
Wednesday 11th January, 19:45 GMT