Category Archives: League Cup

League Cup preview: Liverpool vs Southampton

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Southampton will be without their captain Jose Fonte for as Liverpool visit them at St. Mary’s Stadium in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final on Wednesday.

Fonte, 33, had submitted a transfer request last week and Saints boss Claude Puel has indicated that he will not be including the defender in his team until after the transfer window closes.

For Liverpool, key playmaker Philippe Coutinho is set to return after nearly seven weeks out with ankle ligament damage, while captain Jordan Henderson misses out because of a heel injury.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is expected to include a number of first team players for the trip to St Mary’s.

Last weekend, he fielded the youngest Reds line-up in history for Sunday’s FA Cup third-round tie with League Two side Plymouth, but the club’s youngsters struggled to impress as they were held to a goalless draw.

Klopp says his side’s disappointing FA Cup display does not mean they are under greater pressure to perform against Southampton.

“There is no more pressure on us,” he said. “It is an opportunity. It is always a new day.”

“I said to the lads last year it would not be the last final they would be involved in and this is the first chance to prove this.”

Prediction: Southampton (0) – (2) Liverpool

Head-to-head

  • Liverpool defeated Southampton by 6-1 at the same venue in the League Cup quarter-finals last season.
  • When they last met in November, both sides drew 0-0 at the same venue in the Premier League.
  • Southampton never reached the League Cup final since a 1979 defeat at the hands of Nottingham Forest.

Liverpool into EFL Cup semi-finals after victory over Leeds

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Liverpool entered the League Cup semi-finals for a record 17th time after a solid second-half performance earned them a 2-0 victory over Championship club Leeds United.

It was also a night to remember for Welsh teenager Ben Woodburn, who eclipsed Michael Owen as the youngest goalscorer in Liverpool’s history to help seal a hard-fought victory for Jurgen Klopp’s side over Leeds United.

Replacing Kevin Stewart with 23 minutes remaining, Woodburn was given a moment to cherish when Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum combined inside the Leeds area to present him with a free shot from close range. The Wales youth international obliged with an emphatic finish into the roof of Leeds keeper Marco Silvestri’s net and the semi-finals beckoned once again for Liverpool.

Origi had earlier scored the first goal for the Reds, punishing hesitation by Silvestri and behind the Leeds defence to sweep in Trent Alexander-Arnold’s right-wing cross from close range, thereby scoring his second goal in four days.

Jurgen Klopp had claimed earlier this season that Liverpool had “unfinished business” in the EFL Cup, but this competition is clearly not the German’s priority this season as the Reds show purpose in their pursuit of both the Premier League title and a Champions League return.

The former Mainz and Dortmund manager has remained staunch in keeping his team selection similar to the earlier rounds, rotating his team by bringing in fringe players and a handful of youngsters, though that was arguably forced in part by the absence of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana through injury.

Still, Klopp also pledged to protect Ben Woodburn in order to help him fulfill his potential as a player.

“It’s all good,” Klopp said. “We know what Ben is capable of and what he is already able to do.”

“(But) My first job is to help these boys to be the best, in this case Ben Woodburn. There is a lot to do, especially to keep the public away for as long as possible.”

“That is quite a difficult thing to do but on the other side we only brought him on because we want to use him so that means when he is on the pitch he is absolutely allowed to score goals, to prepare situations and to make crosses like Trent [Alexander-Arnold] did, for example. It is all good.”

Wenger refrains from using key players in Southampton clash

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Arsene Wenger will not field his regular lineup for the EFL Cup quarter-final at home to Southampton.

Wenger has used his squad players in both rounds of the competition so far – against Nottingham Forest, when the team won 4-0 away from home, and Reading – and it appears that he will not deviate from the policy for Southampton’s visit.

Emi Martinez will once again start in goal while Wenger will change the entire line of defense that played in the Bournemouth game.

“We want to go to Wembley, we want to go all the way,” said the 24-year-old Argentine keeper. “I dreamt of winning it the first day. We’ve only got three more games now so I’m really looking forward to playing Southampton at home.”

With Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal rested and Mathieu Debuchy out with injury, Wenger is expected to start with Carl Jenkinson, Gabriel Paulista, Rob Holding and Kieran Gibbs in defence.

The manager will also be resting his three most potent offensive players – Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez – and has decisions to make across midfield. He will choose from Mohamed Elneny, Francis Coquelin, Alex Oxlade‑Chamberlain, Alex Iwobi, Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka, Jeff Reine‑Adelaide and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

“We will have a mixture of youth and experience but still 90% of a first-team squad,” Wenger said.

“Debuchy is out and (Olivier) Giroud has a slight problem – he’s out, too. Perez is in the squad and Jenkinson will play. I rested Carl completely against Bournemouth because he had played in two big games [against Manchester United and Paris St-Germain] and I felt he needed a breather [having only recently returned from a nine-month injury lay-off].

“Sometimes, mentally, three games in a week demands a lot. Carl’s back in and we’ll put Gabriel in the centre.”

Prediction:

Arsenal (1) – (1) Southampton

Liverpool edges Tottenham with Sturridge double

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Liverpool edged Tottenham by 2-1 to advance to the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup thanks to a Daniel Sturridge brace.

Reds Manager Jurgen Klopp may have made 11 changes to the team at Anfield, but the players looked just as formidable and confident. In comparison, Spurs made just one less change, and was just unable to do enough as Liverpool proved their creativity in front of goal.

Sturridge – who himself had been experiencing a goal drought this season – had been left out as an unused substitute last weekend against West Brom.

However, the England international needed less than ten minutes to put his name on the scoresheet. He reacted quickly to poke it above keep Michael Vorm from close range in under nine minutes.

After half-time and a couple of wasted chances, Sturridge tried a little feint to put Vorm down. But when the keeper didn’t buy it, Sturridge simply slotted the ball between his legs and into the net, doubling Liverpool’s advantage.

Spurs – who started with eight players aged 23 or under – were by no means overawed but struggled in going forward before Vincent Janssen slammed home a penalty when substitute Erik Lamela was fouled.

The latter stages saw Spurs coach Mauricio Pochettino on his knees in frustration as his team put pressure on the Reds but wasted opportunities. It also saw Sturridge curled against the bar with the outside of his left foot, and substitute Danny Ings with one-on-one chance saved as Liverpool moved into Wednesday’s draw.