Liverpool and Southampton are battling it out for a Wembley date as they play out the first leg of their EFL Cup Semi-Final this evening. We take a look at the main talking points ahead of the tie.
Jurgen Klopp’s selection
Having faced criticism for his side against Plymouth Argyle just a few days ago, Klopp will most likely opt with both youth and experience. Ben Woodburn, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ovie Ejaria and Sheyi Ojo have all played a part in the run, but with a domestic cup final on the horizon, it would not be surprising to see the likes of Nathaniel Clyne, Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino feature.
Klopp’s starting eleven will speak volumes of his trust in youth, but the larger picture and silverware will prove most significant in his selection.
The return of old faces
Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Nathaniel Clyne all return to St Mary’s for the second time this season. It’s becoming more habit than luxury for Liverpool to dip into Southampton’s squad for summer additions.
With Sadio Mane now also at Anfield, tensions between the clubs are raised and stakes are higher. Mane remains unavailable due to AFCON duties, but the tie is one that carries added spice.
Jose Fonte’s strike
There is nothing quite like a player going out with such little grace. Fonte has been Southampton’s stalwart since their rise to the Premier League and an ever-present in the first team. He has partnered Toby Alderweireld and Virgil Van Dijk in consistently brilliant defences but has decided now is the time to move on.
Unfortunately, the club’s captain is on strike and has refused to take part in one of Southampton’s most notable recent fixtures. Unfortunate, but a product of the modern era.
Philippe Coutinho is back
He may not be 100% but the Brazilian maestro’s return is likely to send waves of positivity through the club’s core. Without him, they have coped with the likes of Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge, but he will go straight back into the first team. Tonight, he is likely to start on the bench but Klopp has admitted he has a chance of getting minutes.
Southampton take on Liverpool in the EFL Cup Semi-Final at St Mary’s Stadium tonight at 19:45 this evening.