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Matip to return, Sturridge to start? – Predicting Liverpool’s XI for Southampton semi-final second leg

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Liverpool’s win-or-bust League Cup semi-final second leg with Southampton could see Jurgen Klopp field an attack-minded team at Anfield, which could come in a changed formation.

The Reds’ season-shaping 10-day period continues with a make-or-break night against Claude Puel’s Saints.

Having seen dreams of league title success all but ended, Klopp will be desperate to keep hopes of winning his first silverware at Anfield alive, and his side will need to produce their best display of 2017 to overturn the deficit.

A full strength team – which is likely to include Joel Matip – will be deployed as Klopp goes all out to secure a Wembley place, and the Cameroonian’s comeback could come in an exciting change of set-up for the Reds.


Team News

  • Strong squad available for win-or-bust tie
  • Matip in line for starting XI return, likely at Ragnar Klavan’s expense
  • Rest of Reds’ usual defence and midfield options available
  • Klopp could consider formation change to maximise influence of key players


Liverpool’s XI vs. The Saints

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 11, 2017: Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge looks dejected as his side lose 1-0 to Southampton during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg match at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp’s limited squad depth means his team is likely to retain a familiar look at Anfield.

While Karius will start and Matip will make a welcome return, the boss lacks a stand-out alternative way to adjust his team, who are suffering from Sadio Mane’s absence.

Klopp could therefore stick with the same midfield and attack that started the Swansea loss, in hope the heart-to-heart conducted with his squad after the deflating defeat inspires an immediate upturn.

This brings problems with Adam Lallana deployed in an unsuited attacking role – as explained previously – but the England international would continue alongside Coutinho and Firmino with neither Sturridge nor Origi having impressed in recent outings.

The midfield unit picks itself with Henderson, Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum deployed, and Liverpool’s XI would look like this:

With the onus firmly on the Reds to carry the fight at Anfield, Klopp could deploy his most attack-minded team – replacing Emre Can with Sturridge for extra firepower.

Bringing Sturridge in could inspire a formation switch to a 4-4-2 diamond, with this set-up one way of allowing key men, Lallana and Firmino, to play in their most influential midfield and striking positions.

Indeed, Lallana could flank one side of the diamond and Georginio Wijnaldum the other, with Henderson anchoring at the base and Coutinho playing at the tip.

A central Firmino could then be joined by Sturridge to form a dangerous strike partnership.

However, if Klopp didn’t want to deviate from his preferred 4-3-3, the full influence of Lallana and Firmino could still be retained by instead playing Sturridge from the right side.

But with Liverpool needing goals to win the game, the 4-4-2 diamond would be more dangerous and suit all involved, and also see the Reds look like this:

Anfield has witnessed some special comebacks over the years, and the Reds must rise to the occasion to produce another to keep dreams of a record ninth League Cup triumph on track.

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