SWANSEA CITY A.F.C.
February 23, 2014, 13:30 pm GMT
The last time these two teams met, ex-Liverpool player Jonjo Shelvey was both the hero and villain for new club Swansea City. The midfielder scored the opener inside the opening couple of minutes, which was also the first goal they had conceded in the league this season. Then Shelvey made two mistakes which Liverpool capitalized on and lead Swansea 2-1. However the midfielder then assited Michu for Swansea’s leveler. In a highly entertaining match, Swansea showed considerable resilience and halted Liverpool’s winning streak.
Brendan Rodgers takes on his former club, as newly appointed Swansea manager Gary Monk faces his old manager, under whom he made 45 league appearances (excluding play-off) for the Swans.
Team News, Tactics, Predicted Lineup
Liverpool come into this match after a 2-1 FA Cup defeat against Arsenal. While Brendan Rodgers’ men lost that match, Liverpool could take heart from their second half performance, where the players played exceeding well and were unable to get a draw or win partially because of opening minutes’ missed chances, and partially because of some shocking refereeing by Howard Webb for which he has been widely criticized.
The Reds face Swansea at home and have that as a huge advantage as they look invincible at Anfield. Liverpool are also unbeaten in league matches in 2014. Hence Brendan Rodgers’ men would be confident going into this match.
Liverpool have been called ‘title contenders’ by people outside the club, but Brendan Rodgers is fixated on getting a Champions League berth next season as his and the club’s priority. However, one cannot rule out anything as this season is turning out to be a surprisingly close one. Returning to the ‘elite competition’ next season requires Liverpool to do well against bottom teams and exploit their comparatively weaker form and close the gap between the top spots, especially with Spurs and Everton lurking right beneath them.
Liverpool will be without the services of Lucas, Mamadou Sakho and Jose Enrique. Sakho is close to returning to the first team, but would be missing this match. Enrique meanwhile has been sent to America to get some specialist advice on his knee injury, while probably means that the Spaniard is out for the remainder of the season. The Reds have received the boost of Glen Johnson coming back from injury which means that he would be replacing Aly Cissokho in the first team.
Liverpool will have Steven Gerrard in his new holding midfielder role and will be complimented in the heart of the pitch by Jordan Henderson, who came off the bench against Arsenal. Coutinho would be in the No. 10 role. Sterling would probably play on the left flank, with Sturridge playing on the right side and interchanging with Luis Suarez in the forward role. The back line would probably comprise Johnson on the right, Skrtel and Agger in the centre and Flanagan as the left back.
Probable Line-up (4-3-3): Mignolet; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Flanagan; Gerrard, Henderson, Coutinho; Sturridge, Sterling, Suarez
Swansea go into this match after a credible stalemate against Napoli. The Swans played very well and put on a spirited performance but their manager would have been unhappy with the team missing some decent chances through Bony and Williams, which would have given them the advantage travelling to Italy facing Napoli in the return leg. The mid-week match must have drained the team and travelling to Merseyside to face the threatening Liverpool is obviously not what the doctor ordered.
Gary Monk’s side has to make sure they don’t look vulnerable on the counter attack as Liverpool currently one are the deadliest attacking team. Swansea should look to press high and stop the Reds from creating space and getting ahead on the scoreline. Swansea should also make sure that they don’t concede a goal in the first 20 minutes, as going down that early would leave them on the backfoot for the remainder of the match.
This is a huge match for Swansea as the bottom half of the team looks as tight as the top half. Even though the club sits in the tenth place, there is only a four point difference between them and seventeenth placed Sunderland. If they get beaten, their morale will definitely take a blow which they can’t afford as crunch relegation clashes against Palace, West Brom, Norwich and Hull await them.
Swansea travel to Liverpool without Michu, who has been badly missed by the Welsh side. The former Celta Vigo man is back in training after surgery and is still not fit for first team action but there is talk of him taking a pain-killing injection which would help him feature against Liverpool. However, that is highly unlikely as Gary Monk would not want to his him and force him into the match before he is fully recovered.
Probable Line-Up (4-3-3): Vorm; Rangel, Williams, Chico, Davies; Britton, Canas, Hernandez; Dyer, Routledge, Bony
Player to watch out for:
The 19 year old has been absolutely sensational for the Reds of late. He has been as threatening as anyone on the wings and his pace has ended up terrorizing the best defenders in the league. He has received the appreciation from his captain and manager and has received both their backings for Roy Hodgson’s England squad for Brazil. Sterling has linked up extremely well with Suarez, Coutinho and Sterling and has made it an impressive attacking quartet. While Sterling does a lot of hard work in the attack, supplying Sterling and Suarez with key passes, the youngster’s finishing is not the best, but is constantly improving. It should also be noted that Sterling runs back and contributes to the defensive aspect of the team as well, with many wanting Rodgers to transform him into a right wing back. Sterling can play on either flanks, and was playing on the right (his preferred side) when Sturridge was absent, but with the striker’s comeback in the side, the winger has been employed on the left, the spot which Rodgers heavily wanted covered by a traditional left winger in the winter transfer window.
Liverpool have a lot of threats in their side, but Monk’s side would have to watch out for this young lad, who is turning out to be quite a special player for the Reds, and is imperative in their strive for Champions League
Predicted Score- 3-1
Liverpool have only dropped four points at home all season, and their last two home fixtures ended in 5-1 and 4-0 victories, over Arsenal and Everton respectively. This would, on paper, suggest that Liverpool would be comprehensive winners in this match. However, the Reds can’t be complacent and would probably have to work hard against Swansea who would be high on morale after drawing their first leg Europa fixture 0-0 against Napoli. Liverpool would have to perform with the same intensity and make sure they don’t drop points like they did against West Brom and Aston Villa. Liverpool have been a little shaky on the defence, and hence would probably concede one goal. However, with the Reds’ attacking prowess, it would probably mean, they win the match with ease. A 3-1 victory for Liverpool might be on the cards.
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last seven league fixtures while Swansea are without a win in their last seven on the road.
- Swansea have failed to register a win at Anfield in the league in 12 attempts dating back to the 1954-55 season. Liverpool beat them 5-0 in February last year, with five different players scoring for the Reds, which was also their biggest Premier League defeat.
- Swansea have managed exactly half the amount of goals that Liverpool have scored this season – 33 compared to 66.
- Liverpool have taken 28 points from the last 30 available at Anfield (W9, D1) since the loss against Southampton in September.
- Wilfried Bony has scored eight Premier League goals but none have come in away matches.