Reds look for first leg advantage – Stoke City vs. Liverpool League Cup Semi-Final First Leg

on 04.01.2016

Jurgen Klopp’s Reds turn their attentions to the League Cup on Tuesday night, as they take on Stoke City in the first leg of the semi-final clash.

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 9, 2015: Liverpool's Christian Benteke is denied by Stoke City's goalkeeper Jack Butland during the Premier League match at the Britannia Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Stoke v Liverpool
5th January 2016, 20:00pm (GMT)
Britannia Stadium
League Cup Semi Final first leg
Referee: Anthony Taylor

Liverpool begin their pursuit of reaching a 12th League Cup final as they travel to the Britannia Stadium for the first leg of the last four tie.

After a poor opening to 2016 in the Premier League, the competition provides a welcome distraction for Klopp’s depleted squad, who play the second of three games in just seven days as the fixtures continue to come thick and fast.

The League Cup offers an early chance of silverware for Klopp who will be desperate to lead the Reds to Wembley just months after taking charge at Anfield, but Mark Hughes’ men provide a stern test, with Liverpool needing to improve at both ends to return home with an advantage.


Previous Meetings

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 9, 2015: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia celebrates scoring the first goal against Stoke City during the Premier League match at the Britannia Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The two sides meet at a traditionally difficult ground for Liverpool where the Reds look to record successive wins for the first time.

The Reds have experienced two completely contrasting visits on their last two trips, eradicating memories of the horror show of last May with a 1-0 win on the opening day of the season in August.

Philippe Coutinho’s superb late strike handed Brendan Rodgers’ men the perfect start to the new season, on a typically testing afternoon at the Britannia.

That victory four months ago added to Liverpool’s recent positive record against Tuesday’s opponents, who the Reds have beaten in four of the last five meetings.

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 9, 2015: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia scores the first goal against Stoke City during the Premier League match at the Britannia Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool have never lost a League Cup game against Stoke in five meetings, including posting an 8-0 victory in 2000 and the last seeing Kenny Dalglish’s side win 2-1 courtesy of a superb brace from Luis Suarez on their way to lifting the trophy in 2011.

Klopp will be looking to extend the impressive cup record in his first semi-final match.



STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 9, 2015: Liverpool's Nathaniel Clyne in action against Stoke City during the Premier League match at the Britannia Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Like Liverpool, Stoke come into the clash looking to bounce back from starting 2016 with defeat.

In fact, the two clubs arrive in exactly the same form, posting two wins, two losses, and a draw from their last five league games, though the Potters scored eight goals in comparisons to Liverpool’s four across the five matches.

After winning only on penalties against League Two outfit Luton Town in the first round, Hughes’ side overcame Chelsea also in a shoot-out win, before beating Fulham and Sheffield Wednesday to reach the semi-finals.

The Potters have beaten Man City, Man United, and Chelsea twice at home this season though, and look to add the Reds to their list of scalps.

After a similarly sticky start against Carlisle, Klopp’s side enjoyed a more straightforward journey to the final four, beating Bournemouth and smashing Southampton 6-1 in the last round.

Klopp’s men have won one of their last five away games in all competitions, and they will need to improve that in order to return home with an advantage.

Form Guide (Last 10 games, all competitions)

Stoke: W-W-L-W-W-D-L-W-W-L

Liverpool: W-W-W-L-D-D-L-W-W-L



A first leg victory for Klopp’s men is priced at 6/4, with a stalemate valued at 11/5 and a first tie advantage for Hughes’ side available at 2/1.



STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 24, 2015: Liverpool's Lucas Leiva in action against Stoke City's Mame Diram Dioufc during the Premier League match at the Britannia Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In stark contrast to Klopp, Hughes has an almost full squad at his disposal, with only Shay Given missing.

The Stoke boss is also waiting on the outcome of Geoff Cameron’s appeal over his sending off at the weekend, which will determine his availability for the tie.

Glen Johnson is in line to play against the Reds for the second time since leaving last summer, while Charlie Adam could deputise for Cameron should the appeal prove unsuccessful, but fellow ex-Red Peter Crouch is unlikely to start.

Joselu and John Walters are pushing for starting berths in attack however, after positive impacts from the bench at the weekend, but Hughes could stick with the fluid and dangerous front four of Ibrahim Afellay, Marko Arnautovic, Xherdan Shaqiri and Bojan.

Reds will have to ensure they’re defensively compact to counter the movement of Stoke’s roaming attacking quartet, while pace and movement up against the sluggish Stoke backline could prove the opening to a first leg success.


What the Managers Say

Klopp talked cup glory, injuries and praised Stoke’s quality in his pre-match press conference:

“There’s only one reason to be in tournaments and that’s to win it. That’s our target.

“We know about the quality of Stoke, of course. It’s the team I know most about because I know most of the players.

“We don’t have six, seven, eight players to change. We have to react to the impact the last game had on the players and decide.”

Prior to Liverpool’s second visit to Staffordshire this season, Hughes said:

“We don’t want to go to Anfield no longer in the tie. Our home form has been good. If we hit our levels, we can cause real problems.”

“Liverpool will be aiming to bounce back from their defeat. It has everything to be a good semi-final and one we’re looking forward to.

TV Info

Tuesday night’s clash will be shown live on Sky Sports One in the UK, with the match also scheduled for broadcast on beIN Sport, SuperSport 3 and ESPN 2 all around the globe.


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  1. Here we go again. Stoke 3 Lpool 0 if it’s a good day. We have only the one striker in Benteke so things really don’t look good.

    • Things aren’t that bleak. If we set up defensively we have a chance. 0-0 or 1-1 would be okay. maybe even nick a 0-1 win

    • Stoke have a better goalkeeper than us, a better defence than us, a better midfield than us and (considering injury) a better attack than us. Logic says the better squad wins comfortably.

        • We’re about where we deserve to be, Stoke are slightly under achieving. All I know is that Stoke starting XI is far more suited to Benteke than we ever were, Shaqiri and Arnautovic are exactly the kind of players he needs, Bojan in the no.10 role would compliment him too.
          The only Liverpool players who would get into that side are Benteke, Emre Can and maybe Moreno.
          Ironically we could be doing with a technical/quick footed player like Bojan up front.

      • It’s good when fans expect us to loose but trust me that’s when our squad will put in good work Liverpool will win 1-2 that’s the score line leave it or take it

  2. If we win, great, if we lose, IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD!!!

    No, seriously, let’s just see what happens. I think Klopp has been handing out face slaps all across the board, and rightly so.

    Motivation is key :)

  3. Very important match IMO…this season’s form suggests LFC just don’t have any consistency going..lot of people have been talking up Europe but let’s be real here folks. With losses to 3 losses in the last 6 matches, surely it has to put some level of doubt…in form teams win this type of competition generally.

    But with the league cup, we’re only 2 hurdles away from potentially winning this cup. Stoke is going to be difficult no doubt..especially with the team we currently have and the form we’re in. But this might be as good as it gets for this season. I’ve looked at the form of other teams in PL and I feel like there’s a good chance we might end up 7th/8th this season.

    • Spot on Abyss, we will not beat Stoke this season again, we were lucky the first time of asking, and if we should have a repeat, we will need a truck load of luck, otherwise I expect to loose this game, I hope I am wrong, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for a draw.

    • If you really looked at the games we lost, it’s mostly against teams that out-muscled our backline and those that puts in lots of crosses. Stoke these days are more refined…. I’m fearing more for Stoke of Pulis rather than Hughes Stoke.

      When teams decided to play football on the grass, that’s when we killed them. Let’s hope we do repeat City’s performance.

      • Yeah I totally get that man..and that’s the one redeeming factor in all of these losses..but then that’s not how Newcastle or Palace seem to operate and both those teams won against us as well. Also, if our ability to handle crosses is genuinely that poor then Stoke could try and mix up their game and attack us in that manner.

    • To be fair to all of us (atleast people visiting TIA) majority are realistic and top 4 although was our ambition but given the “rise of the rest”, we all kind of have agreed that we might end up anywhere between 4th-8th with probability of achieving 4th the least.
      Yeah, couple of signings here and there and a decent run can bring us back into the fold but the underlying issues won’t go in a jiffy.

  4. Both team have similar DLWWL over past 5 games.

    It may be down to Crouch vs Benteke
    Shaqiri vs Coutinhoof
    Bojan vs Lucas
    Arnautovic vs Lallanallatovic

    On all count, we are poor match

  5. Easily the most important game of the season. The Premiership has gone so every game in that now is pointless. Trophies are everything. Stoke however will be far, far too strong for this horrific squad of weak players.

  6. Well in hindsight after the shocking way we lost to West Ham, i think Coutinho, Leiva and Firmino should start on the bench.

    Its a two leg tie

    The team that should start and frustrate Stoke should be this:
    GK and Back four


    Clyne Lovren Sakho Moreno

    Allen Can

    Milner Lallana IBE


    Milner will cover Moreno and Ibe needs to get at peters and help Clyne down the right hand side.

    I think Lallana needs to be given a chance to play in the hole

    That side could frustrate and beat Stoke

    • I love Lucas, but I think Allen Can should have been even used against the hammers..I also agree about Lallana, I.e – he should start too…not because I am impressed by him, but because of his work rate as of late…maybe though I would have persisted with Firmino for Ibe in your team selection…

      • L Leiva in a two man midfield always get exposed as he lacks the energy, mobility, pace and speed.

        And gets found out, he has heart and puts in 100% most of the time but against athletic mobile midfielders he always comes unstuck

    • Agree about Lallana, needs a few face slaps to encourage more directness but we will need his work rate.
      Perhaps Smith deserves a start … not because Moreno has been bad, but could do with a break before the big home games coming up. Smith seems solid defensively and can cross.
      I’d also like to see Teixeira get a start over Milner, and not only because he can actually deliver a corner ;)

      • Maybe Smith should be given nod ahead of Moreno tonight, but Milner is only in side to nulify Stoke left hand side. Stoke are in better form than us and are the Home team, we need to frustrate them.

        Stoke are much better than West Ham at Moment, so if the team does not all battle, compete, fight from start to end we could see another Newcastle, Watford, West Ham type result

  7. Can I hear please form all of the fans (and there were many of you, you know who you are) that said when Klopp arrived that he was “inheriting a really good squad”. Please can you tell me why they are not performing?

    • You’ve only been on here 3 weeks. Don’t recall you being too bothered about anything at the club before then.

    • You talk as though the season is already over. We will know much better how good the squad is at the end of it.

  8. My own squad for Stoke ….. Mings …N-c right back …. Lov..Sak….Smith…….Can…Lucas…..Lalana…Firm…Ibe….Benteke…..

  9. Smith needs a run. 4132. Can as the sweeper.Couts in the center. Ibe on the right.Moreno as a winger on the left (Yes, it might work with Brad overlapping him and he can press high up if need be). Firmino on the right of Ben.

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