Liverpool were far from their best during the first leg of the EFL Cup semifinal against Southampton last night. Although there was certainly more than enough blame to go around, one of the reasons was the noticeable absence of several key Liverpool players. Thankfully, ahead of the impending derby with Manchester United, Liverpool will likely see the return of captain Jordan Henderson, and stand-out defender Joel Matip.
Henderson has missed the last three matches due to a heal injury he picked up during the 1-0 win over Manchester City. In his absence, Jürgen Klopp has struggled to find a suitable replacement to shield the back line, and the overall team form has dipped.
Meanwhile, Matip picked up an ankle injury against West Ham a month ago, and has missed 7 games while recovering. Ragnar Klavan has largely acquitted himself well, although his mistake last night directly led to Southampton’s goal.
In addition to Hendo and Matip, Philippe Coutinho might be in line for a start, particularly after a strong 30 minutes last night. The Little Magician’s firepower will be especially useful in the absence of leading goal-scorer Sadio Mané.
A loss against United could drop Liverpool out of the top 4 for the first time since late September, and it could allow their bitter rivals a chance to climb back into contention for one of the coveted Champions League spots. So, all hands on deck.