Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Prediction: Southampton vs Liverpool

Verdict: Away win

Best Odds: 5/4

Bookmaker: William Hill

Southampton are desperate to end a long trophy drought this season and if they manage to eliminate Liverpool, they will be just a step away from lifting the EFL Cup title. However, it is the Reds who head into the match in better spirits of the two sides in spite of the disappointing draw with Plymouth in the FA Cup.

Southampton

The FA Cup trophy won back in 1976 remains Southampton’s only major title up to date, and no wonder the Saints are very motivated to finally win some silverware. When it comes to the League Cup, the St Mary’s outfit finished as runners up in 1976 and they now have a chance to make it to their second final. That will be no easy task and not only because they will be facing high-flying Liverpool in the semis, but also due to their poor run of form. Southampton have now lost three straight Premier League fixtures, losing to Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion and Everton, conceding no fewer than nine goals in the process. This could have a lot to do with Jose Fonte’s transfer request as the Portuguese defender is no longer in contention for starting places and that is a huge blow ahead of the Liverpool game. The Saints did manage to end the losing streak at the weekend as their second-string side shared spoils with Norwich City at Carrow Road, with several youngsters again showing they are the future of the club. However, Southampton now face a much tougher task against in-form Liverpool, the team that recorded a 6-1 triumph at St Mary’s in last year’s competition.

Team News

Claude Puel will recall a number of first team regulars after they were rested at Carrow Road, but Jose Fonte has been dropped.

Sofiane Boufal will miss the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations through a knee injury, while Charlie Austin, Jeremy Pied and Matty Targett are out as well.

Liverpool

Liverpool are still in the race for three major trophies, and even though the Premier League campaign obviously has the priority, the Reds also want to do well in domestic cup competitions. Knowing all too well that he didn’t have such a big squad to begin with, Jurgen Klopp started fielding weakened sides in the League Cup and FA Cup, and while he was heavily criticised for his squad selection for the Plymouth game, the reality is that he probably made the right decision. With several high-profile footballers sidelined through injury, the German coach didn’t want to risk other starters pick up an injury as well, and that is why he fielded a youthful side. His team, nonetheless, largely dominated the encounter and were unfortunate not to secure progress to the next stage, but we have no doubts they will make things right in the replay. The focus is now on the Southampton game, where Klopp is widely expected to field his strongest possible team at the moment, although he still has some important players either missing or lacking match fitness. But, considering the form the Reds have been in of late, they definitely seem closer to qualifying for the final.

Team News

Philippe Coutinho is ready to return after a lengthy spell on the sidelines, but he will certainly not be in the starting line-up.

Jordan Henderson, Joel Matip and Marko Grujic are still unavailable, although they should soon return to the side, but James Milner has recovered from a calf problem.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Liverpool won 6-1 at St Mary’s in last year’s EFL Cup
  • This year’s Premiership fixture at the same venue ended goalless
  • The Reds won 4 of last 7 meetings with the Saints (D2 L1)
  • Southampton lost last three Premier League games
  • Liverpool won 6 of last 9 away matches (D2 L1)

Conclusion

Southampton are going through a very rough patch at the moment, and we don’t think they have what it takes to prevent Liverpool from winning the first leg. The Reds will have James Milner and Philippe Coutinho back to the side and we are backing them for another EFL Cup triumph at St Mary’s.

Verdict: Away win

Best Odds: 5/4

Bookmaker: William Hill

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