Matthew Sinton discusses Liverpool’s EFL Cup semi-final against Southampton tonight.
Tonight will see Liverpool host Southampton in the second leg of the EFL Cup semi-final and the Reds have a bit of ground to make up. After a very disappointing performance two weeks ago, they find themselves in a difficult situation going into tomorrow’s game, both behind and without an away goal. However, especially at home, the players and fans alike should believe that we can recover from the disappointment and make it to the final at Wembley next month.
The atmosphere at Anfield has been an issue for the past few months and fans seem to be finally fed up and looking to change that; the boss himself has called for the crowd to get behind the team against Southampton. There is supposed to be a welcoming of the team coach, which fans will hope can be similar to the one before our match against Borussia Dortmund back in April 2016. It would certainly set the tone for what will be one of the most important games of our season so far and perhaps give the players that extra motivation they appear to be needing as of late.
A positive is the return of Jöel Matip, who it has been confirmed is eligible to play for us after his refusal to play at the African Cup of Nations. He played the first 60 minutes of the under 23s game against Ipswich on Sunday, to give him the match fitness he needs for the game that he will most likely start tomorrow night.
Of course, Sadio Mane is still missing as his country Senegal have progressed to the knockout stages of the Africa Cup of Nations. Trent Alexander-Arnold has proved a worthy backup to Clyne in the past few weeks and should be able to get the job done should our first choice be unable to take part.
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Our only natural winger in the squad is Ojo, who is unlikely to be trusted in a game of this calibre. Adam Lallana has not been as effective since his move from central midfield to the wing, so it would be very difficult to play our usual 4-3-3 formation. It’s possible that we might play a 4-4-2 diamond, like we did against Plymouth last week (undoubtedly a much less important game, but still). Here’s my predicted lineup, but your guess is as good as mine:
I’m admittedly very nervous for the game given our recent form and the first leg result, so I’m hoping those nerves can be settled early on and we can make it to Wembley. Come on, Reds!