The Inside Track: Liverpool

By SFC Media Tue 24 Jan Liverpool vs Saints
Photo by Reuters | Roberto Firmino

Liverpool Echo reporter James Pearce gives us an insight into the Reds ahead of the second leg of the EFL Cup semi-final.

How did Liverpool feel about how the first leg went?

They left St Mary's knowing they had got lucky. If Southampton had won the first leg 3-0 it wouldn't have flattered Claude Puel's side. But for the heroics of Loris Karius and the woodwork coming to the rescue, Liverpool would have a mountain to climb. As it is, the tie remains in the balance. Liverpool can't play as poorly in the second leg.

What's the mood like ahead of this one?

Liverpool are still reeling from a shock league defeat to Swansea at Anfield last weekend, which ended their year-long unbeaten home record. With their Premier League title hopes dented, this clash with Saints has taken on greater importance. Liverpool need to secure a Wembley final to lift the mood in the red half of the city.

What do you think their approach will be, given the aggregate score?

I don't think the 1-0 deficit will change Klopp's approach.  Liverpool will look to play on the front foot, as they always do at home, and dominate possession and territory from the off. They know that Saints will sit back, soak up the pressure and then look to hit them on the counter attack. Liverpool don't need to take too many risks too soon. If it's goalless at half-time that's not a big problem. They will be wary of leaving themselves exposed defensively like in the first leg at St Mary's.

Who do you think will be key for them?

The expected return of centre-back Joel Matip should certainly make Liverpool stronger defensively. Liverpool haven't lost any of the 14 games he's started this season. Captain Jordan Henderson also missed the first leg and he's a crucial link in Klopp's side. He starts the attacks and provides real energy.  Philippe Coutinho only came off the bench at St Mary's as he made his comeback from an ankle injury. Two weeks on, he's fitter and sharper and is a potential match-winner. Roberto Firmino was the only bright spark for Liverpool last weekend. He took his two goals brilliantly and that double act with Coutinho could be pivotal. It will be tight and I can see extra time and even penalties being required.


Stat Pack: Liverpool vs Saints