Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Southampton v Liverpool: Returning stars have Ibe in buoyant mood

SoccerNews in English Premier League 30 Nov 2015

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Liverpool midfielder Jordon Ibe feels the sky is the limit for his side ahead of Wednesday’s League Cup fifth-round clash with Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium.

The positive impact of Jurgen Klopp’s arrival on Merseyside shows little sign of abating, with Liverpool having beaten Manchester City, Bordeaux and Swansea City in consecutive matches.

Those three victories – which followed a defeat to Crystal Palace that interrupted another three-match winning run – ensured a place in the Europa League knockout stage while moving Klopp’s men sixth in the Premier League.

The latter of those wins – a hard-fought 1-0 success against Swansea – saw the return of captain Jordan Henderson and striker Daniel Sturridge, who featured off the bench for the first time since Klopp’s appointment in October.

With confidence high at Anfield and playmaker Philippe Coutinho likely to be fit for their midweek cup assignment after a hamstring problem, Ibe says Liverpool will travel to the south coast full of confidence.

“It was a big lift having the two of them back out there,” Ibe told the Liverpool Echo.

“Jordan and Daniel are big figures in the team and hopefully they will get back to form. We all know how important they can be for us on the pitch.

“We’ve got good players coming back in and also Philippe Coutinho is close to being back as well, so hopefully we will climb even higher.

“Anything is possible right now. We will take it game by game and try to do it again on Wednesday.”

In the sides’ previous meeting this season, the points were shared after Saido Mane cancelled out Christian Benteke’s opener on Merseyside.

Ronald Koeman’s side head into the match on the back of a 3-1 defeat at Manchester City and Liverpool have won on their last two visits to St Mary’s.

But Shane Long, Southampton’s goalscorer on Saturday, feels the hosts have the strength in depth to exceed last season’s quarter-final effort, when a surprise loss to Sheffield United halted their progress.

“It was nice being back up front again and to give the gaffer a different option,” Long told the club’s official website.

“We’ll see what happens next week. I feel good how I’m playing at the moment and hopefully I’m giving a bit of a headache to put me in the starting XI.

“We’ve got a big enough squad now to deal with a good cup run and that’s what we want to do.”

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