Jurgen Klopp will aim to continue Liverpool’s fine run of form and take another step toward landing a first trophy at Anfield when his side visit Southampton in the Capital One Cup quarterfinals on Wednesday. Liverpool have won their last three matches and six of their last seven to take them up to sixth in the Premier League table and through to the knockout phase of the Europa League. And they now return to a competition where Klopp secured his first victory as Liverpool boss, against Bournemouth at the end of October.
It is a competition that Liverpool have enjoyed plenty of success in in recent years, having won the League Cup three times since the turn of the century, most recently five seasons ago. And, with Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham already eliminated, it represents Klopp’s best chance of ending his first season with a welcome piece of silverware. Still, the former Borussia Dortmund coach has been keen not to look too far ahead.
“The quarterfinal is far away from the final,” he said in his pre-match press conference, per Liverpool’s official website. “When you are in the final, you have to be prepared to be in a good situation and have a squad in a good run. It is really far away but, of course, to win a title the only possibility is to go through all the rounds. This is a very important round with only eight teams in the tournament. It’s quite interesting.
“We only have to think about Southampton. It’s not important who could be in the semifinal. That’s the biggest fault you can make -- to think about the next round and who we can get.”
With a recent hectic schedule, it would be understandable were Klopp tempted to rotate his lineup. He has hinted that Adam Bogdan could come into the side in place of Simon Mignolet in goal. The German could also offer a chance for Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho to get some useful minutes under their belts after injury. Sturridge and Henderson both made their comebacks off the bench in a 1-0 win over Swansea City on Sunday, while Coutinho is back in contention after missing two games with a hamstring injury.
In Southampton, Liverpool will encounter a team not exactly in the best of form after losing their last two matches, but one which has plenty of motivation going into Wednesday’s matchup. Victory would give the south coast club their first League Cup semifinal appearance in 29 years, and would be even sweeter against a side that have used Southampton as something akin to a feeder club in recent times. Since the summer of 2014, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Rickie Lambert and Nathaniel Clyne have all made the move from St. Mary’s to Anfield.
Still, Southampton have acquitted themselves impressively under Ronald Koeman, despite the loss of so many key players. Last season they finished just two points behind Liverpool, and they are currently only three points back in the Premier League this campaign. While the Premier League takes priority, Koeman is determined to make the most of his team’s opportunity for some rare silverware.
“This is very important because as a Southampton team we have two opportunities to win a title,” he said ahead of the match, according to Sky Sports. “One is the FA Cup and the second is the Capital One Cup.
“We can't win the Premier League so this competition is very important. We'd like to reach the semifinal and after the two defeats the best way to get our confidence back is by winning.”
Southampton will be boosted by the return from suspension of striker Graziano Pellè, but will be without defender Jose Fonte, who suffered a knee injury in Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester City.
Kickoff time: 2:45 p.m. EST
TV channel: beIN Sports
Live stream: beIN Sports Connect