We bring you the lowdown ahead of the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final between Southampton and Liverpool.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Nothing can be officially decided, but for both teams it is a chance to push themselves to the brink of a final at Wembley Stadium.
The decisive leg will come at Anfield two weeks after this meeting, and each side will hope to head there with an advantage.
For Saints, who have their home leg first, a good start is perhaps even more important than it is for Jürgen Klopp’s men.
While a win would be a wonderful start, anything that includes a clean sheet for Claude Puel’s side could also prove extremely valuable, as away goals come into effect if the tie moves to extra-time after the second leg.
Southampton: Cédric is back to fitness, following the injury he sustained at Everton earlier this month, and could come back into the defence. José Fonte will not be included, however. Cuco Martina missed Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Norwich through illness, but is available again. Sofiane Boufal is out with a knee injury, but would have been on Africa Cup of Nations duty anyway had he been fit, while the likes of Charlie Austin, Matt Targett, Jérémy Pied and Alex McCarthy remain longer-term absentees.
Liverpool: Philippe Coutinho is back in contention after nearly two months out with injury, and is set to be part of the squad. James Milner is also available after a calf injury. Sadio Mané is away on Africa Cup of Nations duty, while captain Jordan Henderson and defender Joel Matip are close to returning, but are not set to be included in the squad for the first leg. Loris Karius is also expected to start in goal.
Southampton’s last five:
Norwich City (a) D 2-2 (FA Cup)
Everton (a) L 0-3
West Bromwich Albion (h) L 1-2
Tottenham Hotspur (h) L 1-4
Bournemouth (a) W 3-1
Liverpool’s last five
Plymouth Argyle (h) D 0-0 (FA Cup)
Sunderland (a) D 2-2
Manchester City (h) W 1-0
Stoke City (h) W 4-1
Everton (a) W 1-0
Virgil van Dijk’s goal at Norwich City took his total for the season to four, bringing him level with Jay Rodriguez as the closest to top scorer Charlie Austin. Dušan Tadić’s assist for van Dijk took his tally to three for the season, equal with James Ward-Prowse.
Top scorers: Charlie Austin (9), Jay Rodriguez, Virgil van Dijk (4)
Most assists: Dušan Tadić, James Ward-Prowse (3)
Like Southampton, Liverpool will be without their top scorer, Sadio Mané, however they still have plenty of firepower, with Divock Origi and Roberto Firmino in excellent form in front of goal this season. Ex-Saint Adam Lallana has been the Reds’ most creative player, while Philippe Coutinho – who is returning to fitness – has also been typically dangerous.
Top scorers: Sadio Mané (10), Divock Origi (9), Roberto Firmino (8)
Most assists: Adam Lallana (8), Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mané (6)
Previous four meetings:
November 2016: Southampton 0-0 Liverpool
March 2016: Southampton 3-2 Liverpool (Mané 2, Pellè)
December 2015: Southampton 1-6 Liverpool (Mané) (League Cup)
October 2015: Liverpool 1-1 Southampton (Mané)
DID YOU KNOW?
This is only the third time in Southampton’s history they have reached the semi-finals of this competition.
Liverpool’s 12 goals in this season’s EFL Cup is the most of any side.
One goal for Liverpool will bring them level with Aston Villa, on 467, as the top scorers in League Cup history.
NOT AT THE GAME?
If you can’t make it to St Mary’s, you can follow the game in our match centre on southamptonfc.com, which features live updates and free audio commentary.
We’ll also bring you updates and behind-the-scenes access across our various social channels: