Liverpool and Man United are in different places as they try and reach EFL Cup Final

The second leg of the EFL Cup semifinals is set for this week as Liverpool entertain Southampton on Wednesday (3 p.m. ET, beIN Sports) and Hull City host Manchester United on Thursday (3 p.m. ET, beIN Sports).

Liverpool vs. Southampton

Last time out: Nathan Redmond’s strike in the 20th minute was the only goal when the two teams met at St. Mary’s on Jan. 10. The Saints take that slender lead on aggregate with them to Anfield.

Man in the middle: Martin Atkinson draws the assignment for this one, and he hasn’t been the referee for a game involving either team since September.

Team news: Joel Matip’s FIFA controversy has been sorted out, so the former Cameroon international will be available for selection. There are no other injury concerns for the Reds. Sadio Mane is with Senegal in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Southampton captain and center back Virgil Van Dijk had to come off with an ankle injury over the weekend, and could miss out. That injury, and the club’s decision to sell Jose Fonte to West Ham in this transfer window, could leave Claude Puel’s club a little thin at the back.

They said it, part one: “I like this competition because we are the only team who, since I came in, have played every Capital One Cup game. From outside viewing, it looks like they press the cup in between the season. It looks like no-one cares about it. Nobody cares about this competition… but we do.” — Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

They said it, part two: “We will see if we just have Jack (Stephens) and Florin (Gardos) or you might see another player. It’s a strong defense: a strong central defense, with technical quality and with good quality in the duels. Sometimes because of injury or a player with a red card it’s important to consider if it’s enough with Jack and Florin to give a solution. It’s other quality than Jose, but I’m happy with the situation and with Yoshida and Van Dijk.” — Southampton manager Claude Puel

Analysis: It’s going to be tough for Southampton to cope with Liverpool’s attack is Van Dijk doesn’t play. The Saints need to park the bus for sure. The only question is will they be able to?

Liverpool is hungry for silverware, so Klopp will be playing his regulars for this one. It’s not hard to imagine the Reds scoring early, and then adding a few more.

Prediction: Liverpool 3, Southampton 1 (3-2 Liverpool on aggregate)

Hull City vs. Manchester United

Last time out: United takes a 2-0 lead with them to Hull, thanks to goals from Juan Mata and Marouane Fellani in their contest at Old Trafford on Jan. 11.

Man in the middle: Jonathan Moss will be the referee, and he’ll be hoping for a less controversial day than the one he had over the weekend in the Arsenal/Burnley match.

Team news: Manchester United will likely have to do without Marcos Rojo, and Eric Bailly is still at the African Cup of Nations, but otherwise, everyone is available. With a two-goal cushion and a FA Cup tilt looming at the weekend, however, it seems likely that we’ll see some rotation from the Red Devils.

Hull City’s Ryan Mason suffered a fractured skull over the weekend and Robert Snodgrass missed the Chelsea game with what the club is calling a knee injury. Like the already-sold Jake Livermore, he’s a trendy transfer target.

They said it, part one: “Sometimes we are playing so well and creating chances — it is not easy to make changes. It is easy to make changes when you see players not playing well, when you see a team not playing well. I change trying to give a different direction to the game.” — Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho

They said it, part two: “We have made some mistakes, you do that, but we need to continue our work to change some things at the club. I am happy with our performance, but not the result. I want more and I am sure we will improve in the next week.” — Hull City manager Marco Silva

Analysis: The Tigers were already lacking in quality, and the injury to Mason and the transfer speculation around Snodgrass isn’t making that situation any better. The spirit and fight have been there, but Hull’s running short on Premier League caliber players.

United didn’t exactly light the world on fire against Stoke on the weekend, but the winning streak is still intact. Even if Mourinho shuffles the deck up front, and surely he will, United shouldn’t have any problem reaching the final.

Prediction: Manchester United 2, Hull City 0 (4-0 Manchester United on aggregate)

About Randy Capps

South Carolina native, Fulham apologist, writer and sports fanatic.