Wednesday 11th January 2017 – 19.45 – Sky Sports 1
The second of the two EFL semi-finals kicks off at St Mary’s as Southampton take on high flying Liverpool.
Man United placed one foot in the final with a 2-0 win over Hull thanks to a late header from Marouane Fellaini, so will have a keen eye on how this first leg plays out.
Southampton are not in great form at the moment, losing 3 consecutive league games and only managing a draw with Norwich in the FA Cup at the weekend.
This is the first time Southampton have reached the last four of the League Cup since 1987, but this will be a real tough ask for them. The Saints do have good record in the EFL cup and have won 6 of their last 7 League Cup games against sides from the same division; their only defeat unfortunately for them came against Liverpool in last season’s quarter-final.
They will be without Captain Jose Fonte who has handed in a transfer request last week and will be unlikely to play again whilst the transfer window is open. Attacker Sofiane Boufal has pulled out of the African Cup of Nation with injury.
Whilst Matt Targett, Cedric Soares and Alex McCarthy all remain sidelined through injury, perhaps the biggest miss is talisman Charlie Austin, Southampton’s top goal scorer. Without him playing it’s hard to see where the goals will come from although Jay Rodriguez is starting to find some form.
For Liverpool this is their 17th appearance in the League Cup semi-finals; the most of any side in the competition’s history. Of their last 6 appearances in the semi-final they have reached the final 5 times. Things are looking good for the Reds, who are not only the highest scorer in the League, but also have more goals than any other side in this season’s League Cup.
Jurgen Klopp rested a number of players in the FA Cup 3rd round tie with Plymouth. You’d expect a much more familiar line up against Southampton. Daniel Sturridge is this season’s top-scorer in the League Cup, so is likely to start.
But the big team news for Liverpool is the potential return of midfielder Philippe Coutinho after a 7 week layoff with injury, which will be a great boost to Liverpool ahead of the huge Premier League match at the weekend at Old Trafford.
Club Captain Jordan Henderson will probably not resume full training until Thursday so will miss out, but centre-back Joel Matip could make the squad welcomed news ahead of Sunday’s trip to United.
Liverpool are firm favourites to take the semi-final, and will be confident they can get a good result, to take back to Anfield for the second leg. One thing that could hinder Liverpool, will be having one eye on the United game at the weekend, something that perhaps could of hampered Man United’s display against Hull last night. Southampton go into this game will no real pressure which could allow the players to play with a bit more freedom then we’ve seen under the high pressure of the Premier League.
The Saints are more than capable of getting a result, especially at home but I can’t seem stopping the Liverpool attack. Liverpool are favourites with the bookies at 1.15 with Sky Bet to win this leg.