Five talking points ahead of Southampton's EFL Cup clash with Liverpool

By dsguser
10 January 2017

Southampton host Liverpool in the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final on Wednesday.

Here, we look at some of the issues surrounding the match:

WHAT WILL KLOPP DO?

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was criticised for his selection when the youngest team in the club's history were held to a goalless draw by Plymouth at the weekend. Even with Manchester United up next on Sunday he will not employ the same approach, with most of his big names returning, although he may still retain a couple of youngsters.

HOW TO HANDLE COUTINHO?

Liverpool's influential playmaker Philippe Coutinho is in desperate need of pitch time after almost seven weeks out with ankle ligament damage if he is to stand a chance of starting at Old Trafford at the weekend. Klopp is keen not to overload the Brazilian too soon, so expect a 20-minute substitute appearance at best.

IS LORIS KARIUS FOR KEEPS?

The summer signing gets another chance to stake his claim to be first choice after a totally inactive game against Plymouth. The German was dropped a month ago after a couple of errors led to growing scrutiny and still has some convincing to do, but a run to a cup final would provide a much-needed confidence boost.

HAS CLAUDE PUEL GOT TIME TO FIGHT BATTLES INSIDE AND OUT?

Saints have not won since mid-December, so their manager, with issues to address on the pitch, could have done without captain Jose Fonte handing in a transfer request. The centre-back has been dropped for this match, but Puel will want to avoid a drawn-out row with the defender at such a pivotal time of the season. Continued speculation over the future of Fonte's defensive partner Virgil van Dijk is also not helping.

REVENGE IN THE AIR FOR SAINTS?

A large number of Southampton's current side were present for their 6-1 mauling at the hands of Liverpool in the quarter-finals of this competition last season, when they were torn apart by Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge. The bad news for them is that Liverpool are playing better this year than last and Southampton's best chance of progress may well be to keep things tight to ensure they are still in the tie when they go back to Anfield later this month.

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