When these two sides met in November at St. Mary’s, it produced the first 0-0 between them since 1992. Both have overcome some tough challenges on their way to the final four, with the Saints beating Arsenal at the Emirates last time out and Liverpool having overcome Spurs along the way, but will now be hoping to reach the final at Wembley at the end of February, where Liverpool were narrowly defeated by Manchester City last season.
The home side are on a dreadful run of form which has seen them now go four games without a win after a 2-2 draw with Championship side Norwich City in the FA Cup third round at the weekend. Heavy defeats to Everton and Tottenham have seen their performances capitulate after conceding an opening goal with the game looking fairly even, something that Claude Puel’s team can ill afford at this stage of the competition over two legs.
Liverpool saw a much changed line-up held by League 2 Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup but have been in good form of late, having beaten Middlesbrough, Everton, Stoke and Manchester City over the Christmas period. The only major concern came from the 2-2 draw with strugglers Sunderland, where two defensive errors allowed Jermain Defoe to equalise from the penalty spot twice.
Southampton predicted starting XI Liverpool predicted starting XI
Claude Puel will recall Virgil Van Dijk, who missed the game against Everton through suspension, and Ryan Bertrand in place of Sam McQueen in the only changes to the side who played in their last Premier League outing. Jose Fonte is excluded from the matchday squad.
Jurgen Klopp will have some decisions to make with a number of key players returning from injury, but is unlikely to gamble and risk Jordan Henderson. Philippe Coutinho will also have to settle for a place on the bench but James Milner is likely to start. Loris Karius will be given an opportunity in goal.
Suspensions and Injuries
The biggest miss for the Saints will be captain Jose Fonte, who has been left out of the squad after handing in a transfer request. Cedric Soares and Cuco Martina should both return from injury but the game comes too soon for the likes of Sofiane Boufal and Alex McCarthy who are both nearing a return.
Philippe Coutinho is likely to be available in some way for the Reds, most likely from the bench, as a number of star men return for Jurgen Klopp. The German is unlikely to gamble on the fitness of either Jordan Henderson or Joel Matip, with neither likely to feature, but they may make the bench if training goes well this week. Marko Grujic is nearing a return but is unlikely to be called up on yet. Sadio Mane is away at the African Cup of Nations.
This will be a tough game for Liverpool. Given the result and performance last time they headed to the south coast for this clash in the league, it is hard to expect much else. Southampton will look to defend well to give them a good start in the tie and to put an end to a run of bad results. If they can keep things tight at the back, a draw seems most likely, but if they concede then Liverpool could run away with the game.
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