Merseysiders in the Box Seat
Liverpool and Everton both hold one goal advantages going into their respective second leg Capital One Cup semi-final ties. The Reds have home advantage and will expect to see off the challenge of Stoke City, however, the Potters will have been buoyed by Liverpool’s poor defensive performance at the weekend and their dangerous forward quartet will fancy their chances of piling more misery on Jurgen Klopp’s rearguard here.
It’s worth remembering that Stoke put 6 past Liverpool in Steven Gerrard’s farewell appearance for the club, just 8 months ago, but the bookies have Liverpool as firm favourites here and are not predicting an avalanche of goals this time.
Stoke City have a couple of defensive headaches to ponder with captain Ryan Shawcross and Geoff Cameron both ruled out. James Milner could feature in a more advanced role again, flanking Roberto Firmino, so he might be a differential play for fantasy football managers to latch onto.
Muhamed Besic and Kevin Mirallas will both miss the return leg at Manchester City after picking up injuries in the Everton’s home defeat to Swansea City. If the Toffees are to preserve their lead from the first leg they will need a couple of big performances. Besic’s absence will heap even more responsibility on Gareth Barry, who put in a tremendous display in the first leg, recording a WhoScored rating of 8.3 in the process, and Everton fans will be hoping for more of the same from him. Another player who ticks the right boxes is Gerard Deulofeu. Even though he’s still far from the finished article he’s getting better and better and possesses the pace to cause the Citizens all sorts of problems in this one.
However, this tie is likely to be decided by the Sergio Agüero vs John Stones confrontation. The Argentine striker seems to be getting as close to full fitness as he’s ever likely to be while Stones is being valued around the £50m mark to ward off potential suitors. This could be a clash to savour!