Loris Karius

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool gives instructions during the EFL Cup semi-final first leg match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on January 11, 2017 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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Lackluster Liverpool stuttering ahead of Man United clash

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SOUTHAMPTON — Somehow Liverpool is still in with a chance of making the EFL Cup final but their shaky form continues.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned

Liverpool lost 1-0 at Southampton in the EFL Cup semifinal first leg on Wednesday but the Premier League title contenders should’ve lost by two or three to out-of-form Saints.

Jurgen Klopp‘s side, who have now drawn with PL relegation strugglers Sunderland, then League Two side Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup and lost to Southampton in their last three games, never got going at a chilly St Mary’s on the south coast of England and that’s not good news ahead of their massive Premier League clash against Manchester United on Sunday.

Liverpool dominated possession but apart from a first half chance for Roberto Firmino they hardly threatened Southampton’s defense.

Speaking after the game Klopp admitted he was an off day for his side.

“After we conceded one goal obviously the game changed. Even if I try to explain it, it is not that easy. I am actually not used to a reaction like this from my boys. We have to accept tonight was not good,” Klopp said. “We were dominant second half and they had one or two counter attacks, that’s how it is. It is not a big problem. We have to defend them with passion. We had not a lot of chances. If we had some, Roberto Firmino first half, one or two other moments. We had a lot of moments in around the box where we could have had a chance but we didn’t make it.”

Was the fact that Liverpool escaped Southampton with a 1-0 defeat a plus for Klopp?

“The only one, actually,” Klopp said. “It is the third best result if you don’t win. Drawing or losing 1-0 is the best result, I don’t like it too much. This team always shows a reaction. We have to show a reaction in this cup against Southampton but it would be cool if we could already show a reaction at the weekend because we probably need a better performance to get something at Old Trafford.”

Ahead of the derby at United, Liverpool looked uncharacteristically disjointed in attack with Sadio Mane away at the African Cup of Nations, Daniel Sturridge ineffective and the duo of Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino patrolling the same spaces and shut down. It was an off day in attack for a Liverpool side who are the highest scorers in the Premier League but have now failed to score at St Mary’s on their last two visits.

Luckily for Liverpool, Southampton’s attack had yet another off day too as they continue to miss the presence of leading goalscorer Charlie Austin who is out through injury.

Saints goalscorer Nathan Redmond summed up just how wasteful he Saints were.

“I should have had four goals today. I didn’t realize how much time I had but I will learn from those mistakes. At least we won and we can take a lead to Anfield.”

He was right.

Redmond was twice denied by Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius, who was their best player, and he somehow clipped the bar when clean though on the break as Cedric and the impressive Virgil Van Dijk also went close for Saints.

Aside from Karius’ display the fact that Liverpool is  just a goal down going into the second leg at Anfield in two weeks time is the major plus for Klopp.

He admitted that Karius “kept them in the game” and the German coach believes his side still have a great chance of advancing to the final where they will likely face old foes Manchester United who beat Hull City 2-0 in their semifinal first leg on Tuesday.

Klopp knows his side got away from St Mary’s with an extremely favorable 1-0 defeat on Wednesday. It’s not often an almost full-strength Liverpool side can say that.

“The performance doesn’t feel too good, that’s how it is. But for the final everything is open, still,” Klopp said. “At the moment, there are two disappointed managers after the game. One because he lost and the performance wasn’t good. One because he only won 1-0 and has to go to Anfield for the second leg afterwards. We will strike back, we will be a different team. Everything will be different at Anfield.”

Game on. See you at Anfield on Jan. 25.

Three things we learned: Southampton’s win vs. Liverpool

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Oriol Romeu of Southampton holds off Adam Lallana of Liverpool during the EFL Cup semi-final first leg match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on January 11, 2017 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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SOUTHAMPTON — Saints are one step closer to Wembley Stadium.

MORE: Lackluster Liverpool struggling

They beat Liverpool 1-0 at St Mary’s Stadium on Wednesday in the first leg of their EFL Cup semifinal as they take a lead with them to Anfield for the second leg in two weeks time.

Here’s what we learned from a chilly night at St Mary’s.


SAINTS STAND UP

After three-straight defeats in the Premier League it would’ve been easy for Saints’ players to sulk ahead of this semifinal, their first in the League Cup since 1987. They didn’t.

They came out fighting and without captain Jose Fonte, who has put in a transfer request and is unavailable for selection throughout the January transfer window, they were lacking their leader.

The rest of the squad stood up and were counted in front of a sold-out St Mary’s.

In midfield Oriol Romeu and Jordy Clasie set the tone, snapping in to tackles and disrupting Liverpool’s groove with brilliant displays. In defense Virgil Van Dijk has probably just allowed Daniel Sturridge to jump out of his back pocket and Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana were both too narrow and clogged up the space behind Sturridge. More on that later.

Saints did a great job to not only shut down Liverpool but when they won the ball back they kept it as Romeu and Clasie took the extra touch and second to steady themselves. Saints didn’t do that in their 0-0 draw against Liverpool at home in November as they somehow held on for a point. They looked more composed and confident this time out and if it wasn’t for a combination of Karius and slack finishing on the break it could’ve been even better for Southampton as Jay Rodriguez led the line confidently.

The fact Southampton’s fans will be upset they only beat Liverpool 1-0 says it all. The slump has been stopped and this big semifinal win against a team contending for the PL title will give Claude Puel‘s men confidence they can go to Anfield and get a draw or win they need to make their first major final since 2003. Saints’ players dug deep and put in a performance Puel would be proud of.


KARIUS PROVES HIS WORTH

Loris Karius may have kept his team in this tie.

In the first half the German goalkeeper made two fine stops from Redmond, early in the half and then just before half time, as two cutbacks evaded everyone and found Saints’ winger at the back post but he was twice denied.

Karius, 23, has had plenty of critics in his first season in England and has lost his place as first-choice to Simon Mignolet after some shaky displays and mistakes in the Premier League against Bournemouth and West Ham.

This performance may not win him back his place as Liverpool’s starting goalkeeper but it will go a long way to reminding Klopp just how talented he is. One slip up by Mignolet and Karius has to be straight back in.


MANE MISSED; ONE EYE ON UNITED

Liverpool badly missed former Southampton attacker Sadio Mane on Wednesday.

Mane, 24, is at the African Cup of Nations in Gabon with Senegal and his raw pace would have made a massive difference against his former club.

Liverpool looked stagnant in attack with Lallana and Firmino dropping deeper and deeper to get the ball but often stopped by Romeu and Clasie and there weren’t enough runs in-behind to stretch Southampton’s defense. Sturridge cut a frustrated figure up top on his own as he got his big chance to start and show his best ahead of the derby against Manchester United on Sunday.

This touch map sums up just how ineffective Sturridge was and it is unlikely he will lead the line against the Red Devils.

With a massive Premier League clash at United coming up, Sturridge is not on form and Liverpool may look to start Coutinho behind Firmino as they look to reignite their fluid attacking unit.

Did Klopp’s side have one eye on a game which could go a long way to not only deciding their title aspirations but also their top four hopes? They played like it.

EFL Cup semis, leg 1: Southampton 1-0 Liverpool

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Loris Karius and Nathaniel Clyne of Liverpool look on as Nathan Redmond of Southampton celebrates as he scores their first goal during the EFL Cup semi-final first leg match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on January 11, 2017 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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Southampton find themselves 90 minutes from their first major Cup final since 2003 (FA Cup — lost to Arsenal) after edging Liverpool, 1-0 at St. Mary’s Stadium, in the first leg of the EFL Cup semifinals on Wednesday.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Fraser Forster made the game’s first save (his only save for 60 minutes) in the 18th minute, denying a criminally unmarked Roberto Firmino from 12 yards out, at which point it turned into the Nathan Redmond versus Loris Karius show.

Liverpool’s oft-criticized, 23-year-old ‘keeper made a pair of spectacular saves to thwart Redmond, denying him from close range in the 19th and 43rd minutes, to limit Saints’ halftime advantage to 1-0.

Redmond would get the better of Karious, though, in the 20th minute, timing his run perfectly to remain onside until the moment Jay Rodriguez slipped the ball into acres of space for the speedy winger. Karius rushed off his line to close down the angle, but the finish was low and to the far post. 1-0, Saints.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Monday | Sunday ]

Saints nearly made it 2-0 in the 65th minute, when Redmond played Cedric through down the right side of the penalty area. With Jay Rodriguez looming large in front of goal, the Portuguese full back opted to shoot from a tight angle rather than cross for Rodriguez, and his shot skewed wide of Karius’ near post.

Redmond went even closer to doubling Saints’ lead in the 82nd minute, but his deftly chipped effort clanged off the crossbar after Shane Long won the ball on the left wing and crossed for Redmond. Karius again came rushing out, but Redmond’s shot eluded his outstretched hand before coming back off the underside of the crossbar. So nearly a two-goal lead.

Liverpool will host the second leg at Anfield in two weeks’ time, Wednesday, Jan. 25, with the winner advancing to the final at Wembley Stadium, where they’ll face the winner of Manchester United versus Hull City in the other semifinal (Man United won the first leg at home, 2-0 on Tuesday).

EFL Cup semi — HT: Redmond puts Saints ahead of Liverpool (video)

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Nathan Redmond of Southampton celebrates as he scores their first goal during the EFL Cup semi-final first leg match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on January 11, 2017 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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In a first half largely dominated by the home side, Nathan Redmond nabbed a richly deserved opening goal (below video) to give Southampton a 1-0 lead at the quarter mark of Saints’ EFL Cup semifinal tie with Liverpool.

[ LIVE: Follow EFL Cup scores ]

Loris Karius, Liverpool’s oft-criticized, young goalkeeper, was outstanding in the opening 45 minutes, making four saves in total, two of which came in spectacular fashion to prevent a difference on the scoreboard more representative of the general run of play.

Jurgen Klopp will likely ease Philippe Coutinho, who’s missed the last six weeks with an ankle injury, back into the side as the second half wears on, as the Reds chase a vital away goal in the first leg.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Barton to re-join Burnley, Reds target Schmeichel

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 06: Joey Barton of Rangers  during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Rangers and Hamilton Academical at Ibrox Stadium on August 6, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images)
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After some time away from the Premier League, Joey Barton is set to make a return to England’s top flight.

The 34-year-old will officially re-join Burnley in January after being cast away by Rangers several months back. Barton was involved in a spat with fellow Rangers teammate Andy Halliday following a loss and was ultimately exiled by the club.

[ MORE: Costa in line for lucrative wage increase with Chelsea ]

Since, Barton has been training with Burnley before the club opted to bring back the veteran midfielder.


Goalkeepers are in high demand for some of the PL’s top sides, and Liverpool could be preparing to bring a new player to man the pipes.

The Reds are reportedly eyeing up a move for Leicester City keeper Kasper Schmeichel in order to establish consistency at the position.

[ MORE: Latest transfer news ]

Between Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius, manager Jurgen Klopp has had much difficulty maintaining success at the goalkeeper position in his tenure at Liverpool, and the reigning PL-winning keeper Schmeichel could be the player the team needs to take over.

With the Foxes far off the pace they set a season ago as PL champions, the Reds could potentially swoop in and sign the 30-year-old.


Everton are reportedly reigniting their interest in Napoli’s Manolo Gabbiadini after previously putting in a bid for the striker last summer.

Gabbiadini is said to be unhappy with the Italian side and looking for a way out in January.

In 10 Serie A matches this season, the 25-year-old has scored one goal.


The Gunners are looking at a long-term answer at goalkeeper once Petr Cech moves on from the London side, and the club’s answer could come from Belgium.

Arsenal is reportedly interested in Standard Liege keeper Guillaume Hubert, who has already posted 13 clean sheets for the Belgian side in his young career at the club.

The 22-year-old will see his contract expire with the club in the summer, potentially giving Arsenal a legitimate shot at signing ahead of next season.