A progress to the Capital One Cup semi-final would be a perfect tonic for Southampton following back to back Premier League defeats to Stoke City and Manchester City, but they’ve got in-form Liverpool side standing between them and the next stage. The Reds have notched up three wins in a row and definitely head to St Mary’s in excellent spirits.
This season has had a pretty good start for Southampton, who are now in a position to battle for a place in the closing stages of the Capital One Cup, although it has to be noted that the Saints have just seen a very good run of results come to an end. And eight-match unbeaten streak (W6 D2) was interrupted by the unexpected home loss to Stoke City, before the 3-1 defeat at Etihad saw the Saints slip to tenth in the overall standings. Even with his substitute Shane Long scoring against Manchester City, Graziano Pelle was clearly sorely missed, so no doubt Ronald Koeman will be delighted to welcome his star striker from a league suspension. However, the Dutch coach will need his other key men to pull their weight as well, with Dusan Tadic likely to be recalled to the side after he was rested at the Etihad. This means that the Saints should be much more dangerous when facing Liverpool then they were few days ago, and having scored away to City without two key attackers, Southampton can be trusted to register at least one goal at home against Liverpool. Whether that will prove enough to book the semi-final ticket, it remains to be seen. Apart from long-term casualties Florin Gardos, Jay Rodriguez and Ben Foster, all other members of the squad are fit to play.
In spite of the arrival of Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool were never going to instantly become a world-class side, but there have been plenty of signs that the Reds are on the right track. The biggest change is that now the Anfield outfit play with a lot more confidence and swagger, which is something that all Klopp teams have in common. And while the Reds did sufer several slip ups after Brendan Rodgers had been dismissed, they also produced a number of impressive performances, defeating both Chelsea and Manchester City on the road, with the 4-1 triumph at the Etihad clearly the highlight of their campaign so far. After also defeatng Bordeaux in Europa League, the Reds were not exactly at their best against out-of-form Swansea, but they showed a great deal of character to make it three wins on the bounce and will now be very motivated to further extend the promising run and at the same time edge closer to the first major trophy of the season. The return of Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge was another welcoming boost for Jurgen Klopp’s charges and the two players are bound to play a part at St Mary’s as well. Key playmaker Philippe Coutinho has trained after recovering from a hamstring injury, meaning that he could start, although he will not be risked unless he passes a fitness test.
Even without the likes of Pelle and Tadic, Southampton were able to produce a decent attacking performance against Man City, and they can be trusted to do it again, this time with the key attackers back to the side. But, it is Liverpool who head into the match on the back of a three-match winning run and we do expect them to secure progress to the next stage.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 4/5
Bookmaker: William Hill