Liverpool target Wembley with Capital One Cup coup over Stoke
Lee Gormley | January 25, 2016
Liverpool v Stoke City
- Capital One Cup semi-final, second leg
- Tuesday, January 26th
- Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
- Anfield, Liverpool
- Live on Sky Sports 1
Reds seek spot at Wembley with advantage
After narrowly edging Norwich City in a Premier League thriller, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool welcome Stoke City to Anfield hoping to capitalise on their 1-0 advantage from the first leg of their Capital One Cup encounter.
The Reds were involved in a nine-goal epic match-up last time out domestically, while Mark Hughes’ Potters ran out hapless 3-0 losers at the hands of top-flight leaders Leicester City before this second leg meeting.
With a slender 1-0 deficit to overcome from the first leg on home soil, Stoke are 4/1 with Coral to earn a second leg triumph in 90 minutes on Merseyside, while the Reds are 17/10 to win to nil and book a League Cup final place at Wembley.
Hughes warns Reds of improved Potters side
Despite witnessing his side be distinctly second best against the Foxes in their previous performance, Hughes has vowed for Liverpool to expect a vastly improved set-up on Tuesday night, with both Bojan Krkic and Mauro Arnautovic returning to the fold. Although, captain Ryan Shawcross has been ruled out for up to a month, giving him a significant blow.
“It’s a great game for us. It is a cup semi-final for goodness sake and if we can’t get up for that there’s something wrong somewhere, so I anticipate it will be a completely different performance on Tuesday,” declared the Stoke boss.
Hughes was fully aware of the struggles Liverpool have had defensively, highlighted by conceding four against Alex Neil’s Canaries most recently, and odds of 11/4 can be had on there being 4.5 goals struck at Anfield.
“Yes there’s a lot of goals being scored against Liverpool but they also have the ability to score at the other end too so you have to be mindful of that,” he continued.
“Going there is about making sure our focus is exactly what it needs to be for Tuesday and if it is we will go close.”
Klopp gunning for Wembley fix
After seeing his team sensationally edge out Norwich, German coach Klopp admitted he is working hard to end defensive frailties, as the record eight-time winners of this competition face a side previously regarded for their astute abilities from set-plays.
“It makes me sound crazy when I say we defended better. The first ball we defended better, but then we made the next fault. That is how life is: you fix one problem, you have got another one,” outlined Klopp.
“Now we have to solve this and hopefully the two days to the Stoke game are enough for this.”
Bojan boosts Potters’ prospects
Jordan Ibe’s cool first leg finish is what separates the sides going into this semi-final second leg, and he is 7/4 to strike in normal time again, while in-form Brazilian Roberto Firmino is 7/2 to open proceedings, after doing so last time out.
Meanwhile, Adam Lallana is 6/1 to score the game’s last goal in 90 minutes, following his last-gasp Norwich winner, with both teams available at 28/1 to reach the final with a penalty shoot-out victory.
For the visitors though, Bojan will be a massive boost in morale and confidence, with the former Barcelona forward 11/4 to dispatch in 90 minutes and his fellow returning attacker Arnautovic is 7/2 to make a goal scoring impact anytime.
Read our Capital One Cup archive.