Tuesday 11th January 2016 Kickoff: 1945hrs
Southampton v Liverpool
Football – England – League Cup
The second League Cup semi-final appears to be a more competitive affair, certainly on paper, as Liverpool and Southampton square off with the first leg at St Mary’s. The Reds from Merseyside will have fond memories of playing the Saints away in this competition having destroyed their hosts 6-1 in the previous round last season. Although unlikely for a repeat of that score line, Jurgen Klopp’s men are favourites to progress once again over the course of the two legs.
Southampton come into this game on the back of their worse run of the season with three straight losses in the league followed by a 2-2 draw away to Norwich in the third round of the FA Cup. Claude Puel’s men now sit just inside the top ten but look more likely to fall further down the table unless they can find some form quickly. The Saints’ performance in this competition has been excellent, however, accounting for three Premier League sides in the shape of Crystal Palace, Sunderland and Arsenal to reach this stage. The win at the Emirates against Arsenal was arguably their best performance of the season but they have been few and far between under Claude Puel who assumed control from Ronald Koeman over the summer. The Frenchman will be desperate for some respite by virtue of a positive result against Liverpool to give them a chance in the second leg at Anfield.
Liverpool were beaten finalists in this competition last term, eventually losing to Manchester City on penalties. That was Klopp’s first final as the club’s manager and having also lost in the Europa League final last May, he still awaits his first trophy. That makes Wednesday’s game crucial in the development of this Liverpool team as the manager attempts to breed a winning culture. He came under fire after making 10 changes against Plymouth at the weekend in a game that ended goalless. In some ways, it’s a complement to the League Cup and Southampton as an opponent that the prioritised this game by resting the majority of his stars. You can be rest assured it will be a much stronger team that starts at St Mary’s as the Reds attempt to secure a positive result in what will be their fifth game in the competition – seeing off Burton, Derby, Tottenham and Leeds previously.
Southampton v Liverpool Betting Tips
Although Southampton have not been at their best of late they are still pretty formidable when playing at home. Their two defeats to close out 2016 against Tottenham and West Brom were only their third and fourth defeats at home for the whole calendar year. Liverpool’s away form is only second to Chelsea in the league and they have only lost one of their last 11 on the road in all competitions. The two have already met at St Mary’s this season in a game that ended goalless but could easily have went either way.
I am expecting a similar game to what we got in the league in the middle of November in that it will be close and little to choose between the two teams. Both will be near full strength and with it being a first leg neither will want to give too much away. Liverpool are favourites but I would be wary of backing them for the win. This is virtually Southampton’s season now and they will be looking to get a positive result at home. Liverpool’s defensive problems are well documented and the type of game should suit the Saints’ style of play. To that end, back both teams to score rather than the draw.
Both teams to score 4/5 @ Betfair