Swansea City v Liverpool: Keep Calm And Carry On Winning 1-0

Photo courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

Photo courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

By Séamus Leonard

Three victories. Three Daniel Sturridge winners. Three clean sheets. Nine points. Not even the most fanatical Liverpool supporter – a fan base often ridiculed for its blind optimism – would have predicted a 100 percent record for the Reds after three English Premier League games, especially as the last encounter was against arch rivals Manchester United.

There were severe defensive doubts ahead of the clash with the Red Devils as Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was forced to rely on Martin Skrtel at center back after Kolo Toure failed to recover from a groin injury. There was no need to fret as Skrtel, alongside Daniel Agger, turned in a tremendous performance to keep United at bay.

And with Liverpool bringing in Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori before the transfer window closed, the Reds have gone from being tight on numbers at the back to having an embarrassment of riches at their disposal. Those riches will not include Glen Johnson for the next four league games, however, as the England right-back recovers from a high ankle sprain. The injury comes at an inopportune time for the former West Ham United man, as he was arguably enjoying his best spell in a Liverpool jersey since signing from Portsmouth in 2009. Johnson’s time on the sidelines is likely to offer Andre Wisdom a chance to show he is capable of challenging for a first team place. The 20-year-old was expected to go out on loan to get some much-needed game time, but Johnson’s bad luck means Wisdom is very much needed at Anfield at this point in time.

Photo courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

Photo courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

Sturridge, who was named the Premier League’s Player of the Month for August, did not feature in England’s two recent World Cup qualifiers as a thigh strain prevented him from being involved. Speaking at Friday’s pre-match press conference, Rodgers seemed confident the in-form striker would be fit and ready for the trip to South Wales, with the extra recovery time afforded by the Monday night scheduling likely to be a key factor.

Swansea is unlikely to be as enamored with the timing of the fixture, coming as it does just three days before it is due to face Valencia in a Europa League battle at the Mestalla. The Swans have enjoyed some notable victories in the competition already this season, but it has undoubtedly had an effect on their league form as Michael Laudrup’s charges currently lie 18th in the table, just inside the relegation zone. The Welsh side has had to deal with a tough schedule, though, with the visit of Manchester United followed by a visit to the ever-ambitious Tottenham.

Honors were relatively even between these sides last season, with a 0-0 draw at the Liberty Stadium and a 5-0 win for Liverpool at Anfield. That success served as a modicum of revenge for the Reds after they had suffered a 1-3 reverse at home in the League Cup.

Monday’s game will see Jonjo Shelvey face Liverpool for the first time since his summer move. Some feel the midfielder wasn’t given a fair crack of the whip by Rodgers last season, and the London native will no doubt be out to prove a point. Liverpool has to be wary of Swansea’s attacking threat, with Pablo Hernandez, Michu, Wayne Routledge and new £12m signing Wilfried Bony all capable of causing damage.

The visitors will give their own danger man Sturridge every chance of proving his fitness. The 24-year-old has played at less than 100 percent fitness since the start of the campaign, and there is some concern that continuing to play could result in a long-term injury, particularly given the striker’s history of physical ailments. But with Luis Suarez still suspended, Rodgers may have little option but to throw the number 15 into the breach once more. That said, the signing of Victor Moses on loan from Chelsea for the season does give Rodgers the option of playing the Nigeria international up front and holding Sturridge in reserve.

Regardless of which 11 is put out on the field, Liverpool enters game with confidence levels at a high not seen since the 08/09 season. While everyone concerned has been careful not to get carried away with the fantastic start, the longer this 100 percent record continues the higher the club can aim. While the adage goes that there are no easy games in the Premier League, some games are certainly easier than others. And with a favorable run of fixtures from now until the end of October, it is imperative that Liverpool makes the most of that advantage.

If you are in the greater Boston area, you will be able to watch the match at The Phoenix Landing with LFC Boston. If not, you can watch it on NBC Sports Network, with coverage starting at 1500 EST.

 

Swansea City v Liverpool

When: Monday, September 16, 1500 EST/2000 BST
Where: Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Previous Premier League match: West Brom 0-2 Swansea, Liverpool 1-0 Manchester United
League Position 2013-14: Swansea City 18th (3 points) Liverpool 3rd (9 points)

Projected Swansea Starting 11

GK: Vorm
DEF: Rangel, Williams, Chico, Davies
MID:  Hernandez Shelvey, Canas, Michu, Routledge
FW: Bony

Subs from: Tremmel, Amat, Britton, Dyer, Lamah, Monk, De Guzman, Lita, Pozuelo, Donnelly, Tiendalli, Vazquez


Projected Liverpool Starting 11

GK: Mignolet
DEF: Wisdom, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique
MID: Henderson, Gerrard, Lucas, Coutinho, Moses
FW: Sturridge

Subs from: Jones, Kelly, Flanagan, Toure, Sakho, Llori, Luis Alberto, Allen, Ibe, Sterling, Aspas, Yesil, Morgan.

Follow Séamus Leonard on Twitter @seamusleonard

 

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3 thoughts on “Swansea City v Liverpool: Keep Calm And Carry On Winning 1-0

  1. Well Seamus, if Swansea had an eye on their Europe League tie on Thursday, it wasn’t apparent in the way they played last night, especially in a combative second half display. Liverpool were very much on the back foot in the second half after a strong first half showing. Once again though,last seasons recurring problem – failure to kill off the opposition, lead to Liverpool being under the cosh for the majority of the second half, and especially so after Coutinho was replaced by the remarkably ineffective Aspas.

    Liverpool’s late change to the back four, Sakho in for the injured Agger, clearly looked to have unsettled a defensive unit that has been rock solid all season in the league. After 90 minutes (and a few good touches – eventually – from Sakho) I still can’t see beyond Skrtel and Agger as being the best centre back pairing we have.

    Up front, Sturridge showed his emerging talent and growing confidence by pouncing opportunistically on Shelvey’s wayward back pass. Moses showed a great turn of speed and scored a fine goal before fading badly on the hour. No doubt he will benefit from more game time in the coming weeks. The midfield dominated the first half, Lucas and Gerrard providing a solid defensive wall in front of the back four and Coutinho providing the flicks and forward passes.

    Wisdom clearly has room for improvement, especially in his marking and concentration. Will be interesting to see if Brendan tries out Kolo Toure or even Martin Kelly at right back on Saturday or sticks with Andre. Unfortunately, I’d say that all three are centre halves by trade and not right backs.

    To say we need three points on Saturday is obvious if we are to stay top of the league. Even at this early stage of the season, dropping home points would be considered a big setback. Fingers crossed that Phil is fit and Danny is back then against Southampton.

    Finally, we should spare a thought for Jonjo Shelvey, a player who has a knack of scoring against his former teams. Not a player good enough for the reds, in my view, but I can’t think of a more wholehearted and honest player thank Jonjo. To have a hand in all four goals is amazing, surely something he could never repeat…….could he?

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    • Alright Stephen,
      I wouldn’t be surprised to see Toure start at right-back on Saturday. Wisdom didn’t have a great game, though he didn’t have a bad one either. Martin Kelly played very well for the U-21s against Sunderland tonight, but I’m not sure he’s up to first team action yet. You’re dead right about Saturday being a must win. It would be huge to be top of the league when Suarez comes back from suspension.

      The second half fade outs are a problem. It could be that it is a side effect from pre-season and that the team will grow fitter as the season progresses. If that is the case, however, then surely Rodgers has to be more proactive in making changes around the hour mark to account for the obvious fatigue factor.

      I felt for Shelvey after his two howlers and part of me was glad to see him redeem himself with the assist for Michu’s goal. I’d have been happier if Aspas sneaked it at the end, however. In fairness to Aspas, he’s not the type of player who is built to hold the ball up. He probably won’t see much action away from home, but he might be a good option to come on and produce a bit of magic to unlock defenses at Anfield.

      Frustrating as Monday night was, it’s still great to to be top after four games. Long may it continue!

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