Manchester City And Liverpool On Guard Into Cup Semi-Finals Clash

Manchester City and Liverpool may be favourites but both sides know there is no room for complacency when they play the first leg of their League Cup semi-finals this week.

A competition often defined by the big clubs fielding second-string teams always becomes more important when the finishing line is in sight and all four will believe they can win the first silverware of the season.

City travel to Everton on Wednesday whilst Liverpool are away to Stoke the previous day, still striving for consistency under new manager Juergen Klopp.

Stunning wins at Manchester City and Chelsea have contrasted with defeats by West Ham and Crystal Palace.

Klopp will be hoping to have captain Jordan Henderson and James Milner back after injury and illness whiles striker Daniel Sturridge could also return after completing a "mini pre-season" prompted by more injury problems.

Defender Dejan Lovren said the players need to "change their mentality" to ensure a better run of results.

"We have a game in the cup against Stoke and it's a big chance for us to get to the final," he said.

"So we need to stay calm and say tomorrow is a new day and we'll start to prepare for the Stoke game and try to be in the final."

Stoke, however, will be a major threat, having already beaten Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea this season.

Defeat at West Brom last weekend will have shaken them up a little and manager Mark Hughes expects them to bounce back.

"I've said countless times in the past that we always respond in a positive fashion when we've let ourselves down," he said after the West Brom game.

"The players know they weren't at their best today and I'm sure you will see a reaction against Liverpool."

Stoke forward Jon Walters said they will respect Liverpool but not be overawed in any way and will not necessarily go "gung-ho" in the home leg.

"I don't think it's important to get a lead, I think it's important to be in the game," he added.

"Hopefully we can get a good result on Tuesday, and if we're still in the game then it turns into a proper cup game.

"Liverpool have a lot good players that can hurt teams, so it will be a tough game, so we've got to be right at it."

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