Thursday, April 25, 2024

Prediction: Liverpool vs Southampton

Verdict: Home win

Best odds: 3/5

Bookmaker: ZetBet

With Liverpool’s quadruple quest one-quarter accomplished following their Carabao Cup victory, attention now shifts back to the FA Cup as they prepare to host Southampton in a fifth-round clash at Anfield on Wednesday night.

The Reds come into this match fresh off a thrilling 1-0 extra-time triumph over Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final, showcasing their resilience and determination. Meanwhile, Southampton faced a setback with a 2-1 defeat to Millwall in Saturday’s Championship encounter.

Liverpool

Since Jurgen Klopp’s arrival and the signing of his first contract with Liverpool, the club has already added seven trophies to their cabinet, including their sixth Champions League title and their 19th league title in English football. However, Klopp deemed Sunday’s Carabao Cup victory over Chelsea as the most “special” honor of his managerial career so far.

Klopp’s sentiment follows an intense 120 minutes of play at Wembley, where Liverpool and Chelsea seemed destined for a penalty shootout until Virgil van Dijk delivered a decisive header in the 118th minute to secure the cup.

Despite numerous injuries leaving Liverpool without a full starting lineup and seeing two more players leaving the field on crutches, the decimated squad managed to triumph, with several teenage academy products contributing. This victory marks Liverpool’s record-extending 10th EFL Cup success.

However, celebrations must be short-lived as Liverpool prepare to face Southampton in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday. The Reds have advanced beyond this stage only once in the last nine seasons, achieving the feat in the 2021/22 season when they went on to win the trophy.

Liverpool’s current FA Cup campaign has seen victories over Arsenal and Norwich City, and their triumph over Chelsea extends their winning streak to four matches across all competitions. Additionally, they ended a seven-game streak without a clean sheet by shutting out Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

Team News

Securing the first domestic honor of the season came at a notable cost for Liverpool, with Ryan Gravenberch leaving the Wembley field on a stretcher due to a harsh challenge from Moises Caicedo. Additionally, Wataru Endo was spotted departing on crutches after the game as well.

Further compounding Liverpool’s woes, Mohamed Salah, Dominik Szoboszlai, and Darwin Nunez all failed late fitness tests and were absent from the matchday squad on Sunday. Nunez, however, was observed participating enthusiastically in the celebrations despite his injury.

Klopp admitted that he may struggle to field a full XI for the midweek tie following their demanding performance at Wembley.

Liverpool’s list of definite absentees includes Stefan Bajcetic (calf), Thiago Alcantara (muscle), Ben Doak (knee), Joel Matip (knee), Trent Alexander-Arnold (knee), Diogo Jota (knee), Alisson Becker (hamstring), and Curtis Jones (shin). Among these, only Jones might return to action before the upcoming international break.

Southampton

Liverpool’s jubilation contrasted sharply with Southampton’s disappointment during the final weekend of February, as Russell Martin’s side suffered their third defeat in four Championship matches, marking their second consecutive home loss in the division when Neil Harris’s Millwall visited St. Mary’s on Saturday.

Following Hull City’s 2-1 victory at St. Mary’s just four days prior, Southampton succumbed to another 2-1 defeat, with goals from Japhet Tanganga and Zian Flemming sandwiching a Che Adams header in the first half. This result leaves Martin’s team five points adrift of the automatic promotion places.

In the midst of their struggles in the second tier, Martin has acknowledged that a midweek FA Cup fixture, especially an away match against Liverpool, is the last thing his side needs at the moment. Nevertheless, Southampton cannot avoid their knockout duties at Anfield, having progressed through the previous rounds with victories over Walsall and Watford (the latter requiring a replay).

Despite their recent FA Cup successes in getting past the fifth round in 2020/21 and 2021/22, the Saints suffered a setback at this stage in the 2022/23 edition against Grimsby Town.

On the other hand, Adams’s goal against Millwall extended their remarkable scoring streak to 30 consecutive matches across all competitions.

The last FA Cup encounter between these two sides dates back to the 1989/90 edition, with Liverpool securing a 3-0 win. Notably, Southampton held Liverpool to an exhilarating 4-4 draw in the final moments of the 2022/23 Premier League season. However, in their last six meetings at Anfield, Klopp’s side emerged victorious on each occasion.

Team News

Southampton’s on-loan winger from Newcastle, Ryan Fraser, encountered injury misfortune, requiring crutches after sustaining a knee problem in the first half of his team’s loss to Millwall. Martin has confirmed that Fraser will be unavailable for the fifth-round fixture.

Fraser joins Ross Stewart (muscle injury) and Juan Larios (unspecified issue) in the St. Mary’s injury list. Additionally, David Brooks, who could have potentially filled in for Fraser, is ineligible due to being cup-tied from his previous appearances for Bournemouth in the tournament.

In Fraser’s absence, Samuel Edozie and Kamaldeen Sulemana are likely candidates to be reintroduced into the wide attacking positions.

Conclusion

With injuries taking a toll and fatigue setting in, Liverpool is expected to rely heavily on the handful of Under-21 players who finished the Carabao Cup final for Wednesday’s game. Consequently, they may not perform at their scintillating best, presenting an opportunity for Southampton to capitalize.

But despite Liverpool’s challenges, Southampton aren’t arriving at Anfield with much momentum either. It may be a hard-fought battle, but Klopp’s depleted squad should be able to extend their quadruple dream.

Verdict: Home win

Best odds: 3/5

Bookmaker: ZetBet

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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