SWANSEA CITY AFC
Monday; December 29 2014; 20:00 GMT
Liverpool have won their last 3 home games against Swansea City under Brendan Rodgers, and will look to make it 4 in a row when the latter visit Anfield on Monday. Despite a poor performance at Burnley, Liverpool managed to score and keep a clean sheet and take three points for the first time on Boxing Day under Rodgers. More of the same is more than welcome for the manager and the team, as the Reds look to overtake Swansea in the league table on Monday.
Team News and Tactical Brief
It seems like every game Liverpool have won of late is the start of a turnaround in terms of form. Playing poorly at Turf Moor, yet scoring and keeping a clean sheet against Burnley, however, is one of the most encouraging signs Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and the squad have received until now. This will be the first time Rodgers witnesses a home game during the festive period as manager, and his supporters and critics will both hope that it is a first time worth remembering.
The recent shift to a 3-4-3 formation has been made with mixed results, but despite the multiple problems associated with this current squad, there have been positive signs worth noting with this new setup. Kolo Toure is making a sizable contribution in leading the Liverpool defence, Lazar Markovic is slowly showing signs of being the player that persuaded Liverpool to part with GBP20m, while Raheem Sterling is adapting to his new role as Liverpool’s main strike weapon. Brendan Rodgers being quick to point out that Liverpool have only lost 1 in 8 recently reeks of negativity, but it indicates that the damage done by defeats earlier this season has been reduced.
Brendan Rodgers needs to find the answers to two hard questions before Liverpool’s last game in 2014. First, does Simon Mignolet start for Liverpool again, whether Brad Jones is fit or not? The Belgian’s confidence is the lowest it can be, and with the winter transfer window approaching, Rodgers hand in buying/loaning in a new goalie will be forced. Secondly, Brendan Rodgers is clearly afraid of the perceived repercussions from dropping Steven Gerrard, given the reaction it generated when he dropped Gerrard on the 16th anniversary of his debut. Gerrard has suffered this season due to the lack of moving targets for this long range passes, and Rodgers is clearly not helping him with his insistence on playing the captain for 90 minutes in every game. Will he bite the bullet and bench Gerrard this time around?
Probable Starting Lineup (3-4-3): Mignolet (GK); Skrtel, Toure, Sakho; Henderson, Gerrard (C), Lucas, Markovic; Coutinho, Lallana, Sterling
Two months ago, Swansea City visited Anfield hoping to dump the reds out of the Capital One Cup and nearly succeeded in doing so. Thanks to a red card to Federico Fernandez and late goals from Mario Balotelli and Dejan Lovren, they exited the tournament in desperate fashion. Swansea City manager Garry Monk and his team will no doubt have learned from that experience and would hope to leave Anfield with better results this time around.
Ever since they entered the Premier League for the first time under now Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, the Jacks are known for their ability to retain possession of the ball like it were a birthright. However, they have caused problems for Liverpool in the recent past, thanks to their knack of defending deep within their own half and taking the few chances that come their way. They so nearly managed to oust Liverpool from the Capital One Cup in this fashion back in October, and will look to do the same on Monday, albeit more successfully.
Despite struggling with fitness at times, Gylfi Sigurdsson is currently in the midst of a fine run of form ever since returning to Swansea City; while Wilfried Bony has scored more goals than any other striker in the Premier League in the calendar year of 2014. The aforementioned two, along with former Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey, will be crucial to Swansea City’s hopes of scoring goals at Anfield. Just as Burnley on Boxing Day, Swansea City will also look to trouble Liverpool on the wings courtesy Nathan Dyer and Ecuador winger Jefferson Montero (subject to fitness).
On the other end, Swansea captain Ashley Williams, along with his central defensive partner Federico Fernandez, will be faced with the task of containing the likes of Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho. Williams has been successful in bullying Liverpool’s attacking midfielders in the past and will dish out some of the same treatment to Raheem Sterling on Monday too.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1): Fabianski (GK); Rangel, Williams (C), Fernandez, Taylor; Shelvey, Ki; Dyer, Sigurdsson, Routledge; Bony
- Under Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool have have won all three games the two sides have contested at Anfield.
- Wilfried Bony is the top scorer in the league among all players from both Liverpool and Swansea City, having scored 8 goals until now. Only 4 others have scored more goals in the 2014-15 league season.
- Gylfi Sigurdsson (8 assists) has recorded more assists in the league this season than everyone bar Cesc Fabregas (12).
Player to watch out for
Raheem Sterling (Liverpool)
The flying winger has had to shoulder a major share of the goal scoring burden for Liverpool this season after the departure of Luis Suarez and the recurring injury worries that come with Daniel Sturridge. Having recently been turned from winger to striker, his finishing has been more deadly ever since he endured a painful 90 minutes at Manchester United, where failure to get past David De Gea resulted in the Reds going home empty handed. Sterling will have to deal with a fair amount of rough treatment from Ashley Williams on Monday if he has to fire Liverpool towards another much needed three points.
Liverpool 3-2 Swansea City
Blast from the Past
Have a look at the highlights from the last time the two teams met at Anfield – in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup – from October.