Benteke or Firmino up front? – Predicting Liverpool’s XI for Stoke League Cup semi-final


Jurgen Klopp’s Reds lock horns with Stoke in the League Cup final four on Tuesday night – we take a look at how the German could line up his side for the clash.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 25, 2015: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino and Christian Benteke look dejected as his side concede a late equaliser to Southampton during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool turn their attentions back to their quest for League Cup glory when they take on Mark Hughes’ Stoke in the semi-final first leg at the Britannia Stadium.

The Reds are looking to respond to winning ways immediately after opening 2016 with defeat, but a difficult test is made even tougher with the on-going injury crisis giving Klopp the unenviable task of trying to keep the team fresh and much more competitive than in recent games.


Team News

Article continues below

  • Klopp limited to bare bones again as injury crisis continues
  • Liverpool boss to go full strength with chance to rest key men vs. Exeter in FA Cup on Friday
  • Henderson to miss Britannia trip with recurrence of heel problem
  • Sturridge not yet ready to return to action after suffering “problems” in training
  • Skrtel, Milner and Origi all still sidelined with respective hamstring and calf injuries
  • Lallana hoping for recall to starting XI after dropping to the bench vs. West Ham
  • Allen the only other senior outfield player Klopp can call upon
  • Ibe could retain starting shirt in attack midfield
  • Firmino or Benteke the choices to spearhead the attack


Liverpool’s XI

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 2, 2016: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp looks shouts at his players as his side lose 2-0 to West Ham United during the Premier League match at Upton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Frustratingly for Klopp, who watched his side produce another pitiful performance at the weekend, the German has precious little options available to change his side.

With the opportunity to rest key men against Exeter next time out, the Reds boss could therefore name an unchanged XI in the hope those that failed at West Ham take responsibility on their shoulders and respond positively in a vital game.

Making no alterations to the side would see Liverpool line up like so on Tuesday night:

Stoke unchanged XI

Though his options are heavily restricted, Klopp could make some small adjustments to freshen up his team with the personnel at his disposal.

Article continues below

The same back four is set to remain, but in midfield, Allen could come in for the below-par Lucas to partner Emre Can, while Lallana can provide fresh legs in attack in place of the static Benteke, with Firmino then able to lead the line.

Those two changes could see the Reds line up like this come 8pm kick-off time at the Britannia Stadium:

Stoke changed XI

It’s time for the Reds to put a string of poor performances and indifferent results behind them, and step up to the big occasion with a trip to Wembley for a shot at cup glory just 180 minutes away.

OPINION: Liverpool players better suited to tightrope of cups than long slog of Premier League

PRESS CONFERENCE: Watch Klopp preview the game

LEAGUE CUP: Our last five semi-finals


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  1. Even though Klopp’s preferred formation is 4231, given our current squad 433 suits us more. My team would be this..


    Clyne Lovren sakho Moreno


    Can Coutinho

    Lalllana Ibe


    Coutinho has shown hi best form as a part of midfield three. Whenever we have Benteke, our players automatically start looking for long balls and crosses. Having Firmino upfront would provide us the movement we require.

    • Totally agree…Benteke should be a super sub style player…:)
      With his work rate he may get one good chance per 90 mins…Firmino on his day is a better option for getting many more…:)

  2. Whatever the team we field, i do hope Klopp drops Benteke and plays Firmino false 9. In my opinion Lucas should also only play if he’s in a 3. I love the guy but he just doesnt perform in a 2. If we do opt for 4231 rather than 4321 i would suggest Joe Allen gets a run alongside Emre Can. I know everyone hates Welsh Xavi, but for the purpose of the style of football we are playing he would suit the 4231 much better than Lucas does.

    Furthermore without Lucas on the pitch I’d give Sakho the armband, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Emre wear it tbh…

  3. Migs
    Clyne Lovi Sacki Moreno
    Can Allen
    ibe Coutinho kent

    On kent, might as well throw in the lad for pace on both wings and Coutinho gets to play in his right position.

    • My only change would be Smith starting instead of Moreno with Moreno replacing Kent on the left. Kent would be a good choice sub though.

      • i don’t think Klopps will start two left backs except we are trying to close out a match. but wouldn’t be bad tho..

        • I don’t rate Moreno as a defender, he is to weak in the tackle, pulls out of a lot of then and is constantly out of position, whilst Smith is stronger in all of these whilst able to get forward well and deliver a wicked cross.
          Having Moreno in midfield would take away a lot of responsibility from him but he still has the energy and will to track back and help.
          Though I’d love to see Kent given a run out but having Smith with Kent in front may be a bit risky.

          • Yeah, got brought back when the transfer window opened.
            Though, saying that, I’m not sure if he played for Coventry in the League Cup?
            I’m sure I read somewhere that he was available though.

          • Great, would like to see him play. Kent and Ibe could cause a lot of trouble on the wings!…. Hopefully trouble on the wings actually translates to a goal though…

  4. We need to change our formation . Why have 2 deep lying mids ? It encourages teams to attack us . I think we should use one deep lying mid and play 2 upfront especially as Benteke does seem isolated at times on his own . I think we should use more width and okay down the wings to make our attacks much more dangerous which does seem to be a big problem most of the time . Forget about high procession percentage which seems to be Liverpools main priority these days . ( arsenal had 62% pocession against Southampton and lost 4-0 . It’s about putting the ball in the back of the net

  5. The second line up all day long. Firmino has been every bit as poor as Benteke and then some, but we can’t afford to play Benteke from the start. He’s too slow to make his movement and he kills any momentum we build. If Firmino’s first touch decides to make an appearance tonight then we will create chances! Can’t help but feel this Semi final is a season defining tie!

  6. Shame that Origi is injured. Really started to like this player. I hope Klopp can turn us all into believers.

  7. I’d go for option B. I think Benteke shouldn’t start any games period. He is good but doesn’t suit the players we have so him coming on as a sub at the death works for me.

  8. The prem must remain our priority. Id go 4411 Bogdan, Randall/Kolo/Sakho/Smith, Ibe/Lucas/Texteira/Brannigan, Sinclair/Benteke. Let Sinclair do the running for Benteke.

    • Sinclair for a SF cup tie out of nowhere? Not happening. Only one of Randall or Smith will probably be played today, if even.

  9. No 1 – Cou is wasted on the left leave him play central!
    No 2 – Lucas can’t be in a 2 man midfield – if he is to play then it has to be 433 or 4312.
    No 3 – Lallana may not have the attacking quality of Firmino but he brings a lot of grit and tracking which we will need vs Stokalona.

  10. Well, well, does it matter who Klopp puts out there, because at the moment no one is playing good football in the squad, these players are more consistent in playing poor football, rather than good football, you would think that with a world class manager with a winning mentality, and a positive vibes at the helm, these guys would play a lot better individually,these players are in the top 4-5 in salaries received in the league, and top 10 in the world i think, but certainly not playing like it.

  11. I am reading on here a lot about Kent starting, not because he played a couple good games at Coventry means he is ready, there is a difference between boy football and men, hence the reason why more players from that division hasn’t move up to the premier league to apply their trade.

  12. My advise to you all is, just watch the game with less expectations, but with hope more than anything else, this team has gone back to the Rodgers days, can’t say i am surprised, he built this team, he sold all the solid players and bought a lot of WIMPS.

    • wooow you changed your mind pretty quick. are our players/squad a top 4 team or not? if Klopp has inherited a top 4 squad surely we should expect a top 4 finish?

      • Our squad is not a top 4 team,ffs!!you’re just trying to slate klopp!!always trying to be otherwise, bet your great at parties huh?fukcing she man!

          • Brolin it isn’t my fault you put your foot in it all the time. you have your head in the clouds most of the time. Anyhow a good 1 – nil victory should make us all happy for today.

        • And Rodgers is to blame for the injuries, I’m guessing, not Klopp? Even though Klopp is renowned for getting his squads injured

  13. Just looking at both of them teams makes you think how we could spend all that money in the past three-four years and still not have a team with at least a few players who get pulses racing. Unforgivable.

    I will take a score draw all night long tonight and hope we turn them over at home.

  14. I would love to see some of our younger players! I think they would play with their hearts and put way more effort then what we have at the moment.

  15. Few of the present squad will be here next season. Lallana, Firmino, Allen, Lovren ( poor on saturday) should be first out the door. DS, injured again, don’t be surprised if he doesn’t play in a red shirt again.

    • Firmino just came this season and lovern has been good as of late and was probably one of our best players in our team other than can on Saturday

      • Lamela at Spurs was struggling, but now he seems to have really settled in, patience is a virtue if only you give it time, well, sometimes.

  16. 4-4-2 Diamond.

    GK- Bogdan
    RB- Clyne
    CB- Lovren
    CB- Sahko
    LB- Smith
    CDM- Lucas
    RM- Can
    LM- Allen
    AM- Coutinho
    LS- Benteke
    RS- Firmino

    Mignolet, Moreno, Toure, Lallana, Ibe

    Benteke needs a strike partner, Moreno needs a rest and stick with Bogdan as he’s played every league cup game for us so far. Unfair to drop him now.

    • I would prefer the second Line up in the article because our team is low on confidence so they need to play this game

  17. I was never onboard with the Benteke signing. With Carroll and then Lambert both struggling I couldn’t see Benteke making that much of a difference. However, after signing him I hoped at least he’d give us prescence, a big bully up top. After all he had premier league experience?
    But, no! Nothing! World class players adapt to their surroundings, fit in regardless.
    We need a number 9 and we need one now! Regardless of what we’ve previously spent (wasted). We can work on the spine of the team gradually but, a goal scorer is paramount.

  18. I’ll stick Ibe up top. Coutinho and Ryan Kent in support, Lucas, Allen and Can in midfield, smith left back and Clyne right back. Can’t do any worse than what the other are doing.

  19. Here’s my team:
    __________ Mignolet __________
    Clyne _ Lovren ___ Sakho_ Smith
    _______ Can ____ Allen _______
    _ Lalana __ Coutinho __ Teixeira _
    __________ Firminho __________

  20. The options Klopp has to pick a team from are very depressing. Mediocrity or worse in every position.

    Transfer window is open FSG, time to spend big on a couple of really top players.

  21. Badly missing Origi and Ings at this moment…Milner too to some extent…forget good performances for a second..we’re running out of professional players to give a chance to here. Lucas/Allen and Lallana/Ibe or Firmino/Benteke seems to be the only choice to make here. Hopefully Smith is good enough to start today as well. Only 2-3 options available at this moment.

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