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Liverpool v Stoke City: Klopp has new problems to fix for Wembley bid

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp admits his players have more problems to fix if they are to get the better of Stoke City and reach the League Cup final at Wembley.

The Reds are record eight-time winners of the competition and go into Tuesday’s second leg at Anfield in a strong position having won the first 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium.

Jordon Ibe’s cool finish after Joe Allen had diverted Adam Lallana’s cut-back into his path proved decisive in a match that produced few clear-cut opportunities.

That leaves Stoke, who are bidding to make the final for the first time since 1972, with significant work to do if they are to progress and face Everton or Manchester City at the February 28 showpiece.

Knowing they must score to stand any chance of progression, the visitors will have been boosted to see Liverpool concede four times in an astonishing 5-4 Premier League win over Norwich City on Saturday, which presented Klopp with new issues to tackle.

On his team’s struggles at set-pieces, the German said: “Even though we conceded four goals off set-plays, we defended them better. It was unbelievable.

“They got all of their goals from the second balls at set-plays. Things like this can happen. Now we have made different mistakes. We take this and if you win 5-4 it is a funny story, but it is not that funny and we have to solve it.

“It is not easy to create chances against us. I don’t think there were a lot. Manchester United had no chances. Arsenal had one or two, but not as many as usual.

“It makes me sound crazy when I say we defended better. The first ball we defended better, but then we made the next fault. That is how life is: you fix one problem, you have got another one. 

“Now we have to solve this and hopefully the two days to the Stoke game are enough for this.”

Midfielder Lucas Leiva is aware there will be few bigger matches Liverpool play this season as they look to add to a poor return of only one trophy since 2006.

He told the club’s official website: “It is one of the biggest games of the season until now and a good chance for us to go to Wembley. We don’t need any more motivation.

“We will recover and for sure everyone will be 100 per cent, mentally and physically, for Tuesday.”

Stoke are coming off a poor result and performance on Saturday after they suffered a 3-0 defeat at leaders Leicester City, an outcome which ensured Liverpool moved above them in the table.

Mark Hughes wants to see an immediate response from his players similar to those produced following other disappointing losses.

The manager said: “We found it difficult all match and from our point of view we need to bounce back quickly now because we have a huge game in midweek.

“More often than not when we suffer disappointments we usually bounce back strongly, so hopefully that will be the case at Anfield. I back my team to do that.” 

Hughes is hoping captain Ryan Shawcross (hip and back) will recover in time to play after coming off against Leicester, a game which Marko Arnautovic (hamstring) was left out of as a precaution.

Liverpool have been without Dejan Lovren and Philippe Coutinho (both hamstring), who are yet to play since suffering their injuries in the first leg, while Martin Skrtel (hamstring) has been out since December and Daniel Sturridge (hamstring) is still unavailable.

Sun 24 Jan, 2016
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