Capital One Cup – Liverpool vs Stoke City (Leg 2)


Jürgen Klopp’s men are set to host Stoke City in the League Cup semi-finals after Saturday’s dramatic win over Norwich City. A final date at Wembley awaits the winner of tonight’s match. The travelling Potters will have to overcome a one goal deficit with Jordan Ibe getting the decisive goal at the ‎Britannia Stadium.
A similar performance from The Reds at Anfield could see them playing for their ninth cup win on the 28th of February. The game on paper looks good for Klopp’s side as the team has never lost a League Cup semi-final or lost a cup tie against Stoke – and as a manager the German has never lost a semifinal.
Although Jordon Ibe’s first half goal was enough to secure the Red’s a first leg victory, their defending in recent matches has been quite woeful. The weekend’s nine goal thriller against Norwich saw the back four in a bit shaky form and club captain Jordan Henderson has yet to find his defensive boots after his return from injury. Alberto Moreno produced a brain dead moment at the weekend, and might risk losing his place to the likes of Jon Flanagan or Brad Smith. The only positive for Liverpool is the form of Roberto Firmino with the Brazilian growing into the new role as the ‘False 9’.
The Liverpool manager, whose substitutions changed the game at Stoke said: “Going to Wembley is the best thing you can do in football but who the opponent is at this moment is not the biggest issue. If it is Everton, we want to beat them. If it is Manchester City, we want to beat them. First of all, we have to beat Stoke and then we can talk about the rest.”
He added: “Tomorrow is one target – go to the final. Reaching a final is great but it only matters when you win it. You should celebrate it more in your mind than in the real world but it is football and you should not waste opportunities to win something.”
Meanwhile, Stoke has a number of attacking options as they travel to Merseyside with Xherdan Shaqiri settling in a central role, which would see Arnautovic and Afellay play in the wings. The technical insight of Bojan up front should be key as Mark Hughes’ men look for goals.
A determined Mark Hughes said: “We are going to really push for it. You always remember cup finals and semi-finals because of the excitement and the atmosphere and we want to make it a night to remember.
“Hopefully, come 10 pm on Tuesday we will be in the final of this competition for the first time in 40-odd years, and I will be reminding the players of that before kick-off.”