Lovren rallies Reds ahead of League Cup semis

LONDON • Dejan Lovren has urged Liverpool to show a stronger mental streak as they seek to recover from their latest disappointment in today's League Cup semi-final first leg at Stoke City.

Manager Juergen Klopp's hopes of ending his first season in English football with a top-four Premier League finish and a place in next season's Champions League suffered a blow when Liverpool started the new year with a 0-2 loss to West Ham United on Saturday.

The German was angered by his team's display, but his debut season at Anfield could yet end with silverware as Liverpool stand just two games from a Wembley meeting with either Manchester City or neighbours Everton.

Lovren acknowledged that his manager had every right to vent his anger following the West Ham game, the Croatian centre-back saying: "We are disappointed. It wasn't the best performance from us and we need to be angry with ourselves.

"I don't know the reason, but we need to step up quickly. We definitely need to change our mentality and we need to keep a better run of games and to fight more."

Liverpool, whose last major honour was the 2012 League Cup, also get their FA Cup campaign under way at Exeter City on Friday, but Klopp is adamant that a busy January schedule holds no fears for him.

"I've never been worried about a football game," he said. "I'm the first to be excited when you have a chance to reach something big.

"The good thing in this moment is we have played different styles and adapted against special opponents."

Stoke will also be seeking to bounce back after their 2-1 league defeat by West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. "More often than not when we do disappoint, we bounce back quickly," said manager Mark Hughes.

Beaten FA Cup finalists in 2011, Stoke have reached the League Cup semi-finals for the first time since they won the tournament in 1972.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LEAGUE CUP S-FINALS, 1ST LEG

STOKE V LIVERPOOL

Singtel TV Ch109, tomorrow, 3.55am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2016, with the headline 'Lovren rallies Reds ahead of League Cup semis'. Print Edition | Subscribe