Klopp set to field Matip in Saints grudge match

LONDON • Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has spread the blame for their leaky defence across the team as he prepares to pitch Cameroonian defender Joel Matip into today's League Cup semi-final, second leg against Southampton.

On Saturday, Liverpool conceded three goals at Anfield for only the second time under Klopp as they lost 2-3 to lowly Swansea in the Premier League, a defeat that has seen them drop to fourth, 10 points behind leaders Chelsea.

But the German was in no mood to concede the league title, promising his side would "fight for everything" as they seek to shore up the back four and reproduce the flowing football that marked the first half of their season.

"The final mistake is sometimes goalkeeper or defender, but most of the time it's seven or eight players," said Klopp. "It's not about one player. It's clear what we did wrong and we really have to do better. If it was that easy to buy one player then all the problems are solved, I would be silly not to do it."

Liverpool have never lost when Matip has played and the 25-year-old seems likely to return to Reds' defence today following his problems with injury and international clearance.

Football's world governing body Fifa gave Liverpool the go-ahead to play Matip only last week after he turned down Cameroon's call-up for the Africa Cup of Nations, saying he had already retired from international football.

"He was injured for six weeks so we had to cope. Most of the time we did well - but obviously we are not happy about the recent games," Klopp said.

"It's a night game at Anfield, if the crowd is good then it would help," he added, with Liverpool, who lost to Manchester City in last year's final, trailing 0-1 from the first leg. "I think I have played more against Southampton than any other team. In (the first leg) we knew it was not a good game for us. Still everything is possible for us."

Southampton head to Anfield with renewed confidence, having ended a run of four straight league defeats with a 3-0 win over champions Leicester City last weekend.

"It's obviously a massive game for the club and we have to make sure that we're ready," said Saints midfielder James Ward-Prowse.

"We spoke about how we want to play at Wembley and enjoy that, so we've got to make sure that we get there now."

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

LIVERPOOL V SOUTHAMPTON

Singtel TV Ch109, tomorrow, 3.55am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2017, with the headline 'Klopp set to field Matip in Saints grudge match'. Print Edition | Subscribe