Liverpool v Southampton Betting Tips: Anfield can pull the hosts through
It is certainly advantage Southampton, albeit slim, going into the second leg of this EFL Cup semi-final as they hold a slender 1-0 lead. The visitors know that a draw at Anfield will be enough for them to get to Wembley. The onus is very much on Liverpool.
Liverpool have been on a rather dodgy run in recent weeks having won just one of their last six matches in all competitions – and even that was a pretty fortunate 1-0 win in the FA Cup against League Two Plymouth Argyle. Although they are still in all three of the competitions they started in at the beginning of the season, they have slipped down to fourth in the league and need to pick up quickly if they’re to stand a chance of winning just one trophy, never mind three.
Everybody has said for the entire campaign that, whilst Jurgen Klopp’s men are undoubtedly excellent going forward, their defence is a massive liability and it will be this iffy back-line that costs them success this season. Their record of 27 conceded in the league is the worst in the top four whilst they let in three against a relegation-threatened Swansea City side who were among the worst attacking sides in the league up until Saturday. Although they are good in the final third, Klopp will be concerned that his side have only scored more than one goal on just a single occasion in their last five matches in all competitions. If you can stop the Liverpool attack, just like Southampton did in the first leg and Plymouth did in the FA Cup, the Reds’ defensive vulnerability means you can get a positive result against them.
Anfield has once again been a fortress this campaign and, up until their defeat at the hands of Swansea City at the weekend, they had not lost a competitive match at Anfield since the start of the season or even since 17th January 2016. That is a huge positive going into this potentially difficult match against Southampton.
After a few difficult results which saw them lose three Premier League matches in a row, Southampton have picked up to win three of their last four matches in all competitions, headlined with an impressive 3-0 win over Premier League champions Leicester City on Sunday afternoon, boosting them up to 11th and just one point outside the top 10. They may have won the first leg of this EFL League Cup semi-final but Southampton will feel they should already be home and dry given how well they played and the chances they missed in that initial match at St. Mary’s Stadium.
That previously mentioned bad run was mainly down to the Saints forgetting what they had done so well earlier in the season – defending first. They have managed to regain their defensive solidity in the last few matches with each of those aforementioned three wins being accompanied by a clean sheet. They may have lost inspirational centre half and captain Jose Fonte to West Ham United a few days ago but the thrashing of Leicester showed that they have the depth to cope with his loss and it also seems that they have succeeded in keeping the now even more important Virgil Van Dijk until the end of the season at least.
Claude Puel’s side have been criticised for being rather lacklustre up front this season, demonstrated by the fact they have scored just 22 goals in 22 league matches this campaign (the third worst in the league) and it is evident that they need a striker. Having said that, as we saw earlier in the season, if they keep it tight at the back, they can win football matches.
Unfortunately for the Saints, away form has not been particularly good in recent times with no win in their last three matches in all competitions and just two wins in their last 13 matches on the road in all competitions. However, the League Cup has been better for them in the last few seasons with seven wins in their last nine matches on their travels in this competition.
Despite the signs looking a lot better for Southampton of late, I think the Anfield factor is huge here and this can be massive for Liverpool. Southampton only have a one-goal advantage which a Liverpool side so good in the final third should be able to overcome. At the prices, with the home crowd behind them, ‘Liverpool to Qualify’ at a shade under even-money is well worth a go.
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