Two of the Barclay's Premier League's top teams will meet in the EFL Cup semi-final first leg on Wednesday night as Southampton welcome Liverpool to St Mary's for a big clash for both sides.
St. Marys Stadium, Southampton, England
Key Stat: Southampton have given up more than two goals only twice so far this season. Against a sometimes rampant Liverpool side, don't expect them to just buckle under the pressure of the Reds attack.
Expert Verdict: This is going to be a tight and tense affair played by two very good teams full of great footballers. Both sides like to keep the ball on the ground, and both are very tactically and technically aware. These teams almost always play close matches against one another (let's forget that 1-6 result), and it will likely be that way again. Usually, we see a moment or a couple of moments of magic from someone to separate the teams. With the way the EFL Cup is structured, we may not see too much
Claude Puel has a bit of a list of injuries to worry about. Striker Charlie Austin remains out while midfielders Sofiane Boufal (Africa Cup of Nations), Jeremy Pied, and Jake Hesketh are also out. Defender Matt Targett will be sidelined, while there doubts on the fitness of goalkeeper Alex McCarthy and right back Cedric Soares.
Jay Rodriguez will be a key man for Southampton as he looks to continue to reassert himself on matters. Rodriguez and Adam Lallana were quite the combination, and it's been a while since he was able to be fully fit, but Rodriguez has come back strong. He's very good and tricky, and he's capable of a good finish. He's a little more of a creative force, but his side are short on options, so he'll need to be very good for them to get a result.
In their last five matches, Southampton has one win, one draw, and three losses. They most recently drew 2-2 at Norwich in the FA Cup to force a replay.
Defenders:Soares, van Dijk, Fonte, McQueen
Midfielders:Romeu, Clasie, Ward-Prowse
Forwards:Tadic, Redmond, Rodriguez
Liverpool's key man will be Divock Origi. Origi is a very fine player that can change games on his day. He'd had a run of five consecutive games with a goal, but he's cooled off a little since then. Liverpool need him and his pressing, as well as his awareness in order to get a result at St Marys on Wednesday. Origi was the main main here in the 1-6 result last season, and he'll be needed once again if Liverpool are to advance.
Liverpool have three wins and two draws in their last five matches all competitions. They most recently drew 0-0 with a fully-changed side against Plymouth at home on Sunday.
Defenders:Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Milner
Midfielders:Lallana, Can, Wijnaldum
Forwards:Firmino, Sturridge, Origi
In 15 matches against one another, the series has been very even. Liverpool have seven wins, Southampton have 6, and they have drawn twice. Here are the last five results:
Nov 19, 2016: Southampton 0-0 Liverpool (League)
Mar 20, 2016: Southampton 3-2 Liverpool (League)
Dec 2, 2015: Southampton 1-6 Liverpool (League Cup)
Oct 25, 2015: Liverpool 1-1 Southampton (League)
Feb 22, 2015: Southampton 0-2 Liverpool (League)
There are so many great players in each squad, and there's no doubt that Liverpool have a slight edge in terms of money, depth, and exposure. But that simply shouldn't matter in a match like this. There is a strange bond between the two clubs. One of friendly rivalry, and this match will show that. Expect it to be tight and not give many answers as to who will advance. Calling a draw here. Southampton got a clean sheet back in November, but it'd be hard to see them doing it again here.
The bookmakers at Bet365 have the odds of a Southampton win at 15/8, a draw at 12/5, and a Liverpool win at 11/8.
To qualify after both legs of the tie, Southampton have 9/4 odds and Liverpool are 1/3.
Both teams to score is set at ¾ for yes and 1/1 for no.
A 1-0 win for Southampton could see you get 16/1 odds if you were to wager on it.