Liverpool travelled to Swansea for the early kick off on Saturday having had a week off to prepare for the game having no European football to distract them this week. The team is looking already like it can pick itself and as such the starting eleven was the same as that which took to the pitch last time out with Dejan Lovren coming back in to the team replacing Ragner Klaven, with Loris Karius again getting the nod over Simon Mignolet in goal.
Swansea were under huge pressure with a manager openly stating a defeat could see him get the sack before the international break. The team itself was not performing to the level of previous seasons as they languish in 17th in the league table having only won one game and drawn one game from six outings so far. Their last game they got beaten by Man City 3-1 at home having started the game well.
The one word of caution Klopp would have been driving into the players today was the result here near the end of last season which seen the Swans beat us 3-1.
The game started with Liverpool having more of the the early ball and looking like they woukd pick up from where they left off against Hull City. Though on five mins a Wayne Routledge cross lead to a free header in the box for Swnasea’s Borca which he failed to convert. A warning sign as it turned out to the Liverpool defence. A minute later Swansea got a corner and the resultant deep ball to the back post seen Borca out jump Clyne to head right across the box for Leroy Fer to poke home from a yard in to an empty Liverpool net. His fourth goal of the season. Swansea get the goal all too easily. Swansea were applying the pressure to Liverpool high up the pitch trying to win the ball back and not giving the midfield time to settle and pick out their passes as usual.
Liverpool were being harassed and not finding their passes with the speed and accuracy we’ve seen so far this season. Adam Lallana was taken off after 20 minutes with a slight groin injury and was replaced by Daniel Sturridge.
On twenty five minutes Jordan Henderson gave away a silly free kick for pulling back his opponent and goes in to the referees note book. The resultant free kick is lofted into the box and Borca again wins a header under no pressure that went just wide of the post. He really should have scored to give Swansea what would have been a desseved two goal lead. A big missed chance.
It takes a while for Liverpool to start to build up some pressure of their own. A corner kick drops to Lovren in the box, his shot is blocked by the Swansea defence and minutes later Mané also suffers the same faith after being put through. Swansea getting in their last ditch challenges with great effect.
On thirty eight minutes Sturridge was played into the box and as he tries to get ahead of his man he receives a slight nudge and he throws himself to the ground looking for a penalty only to be booked for simulation.
The last few minutes of the first half saw Liverpool pile on pressure on the edge of the home teams area but Swansea defend well to go in at the break with the one goal lead, which maybe should have been more. Liverpool were pressed all half on the ball and were not allowed to get into their free flowing fast passing game. Credit to Swansea for having a plan and implementing it so well.
Half time was a well needed break and Jurgen Klopp obviously had a serious word with the players as they started the second half like a different team. Pressing high, passing better and playing with a much higher tempo.
Sadio Mané was brought down by Leon Britton which earned him a yellow card and Phillipe Couthino stepped up to take the free kick. His effort rebounded off the wall and dropped to Henderson who simply lobed the ball back into the box over everyone to Roberto Firmino who was on the back post to simply glance a header past the diving keeper. The pressure eventually paid off with a simple goal to get Liverpool back into the game which they were now beginning to control.
Liverpool were now hunting the ball back in packs with intensity and players including the impressive Georginio Winjaldum and Couthino controlling the game now. The away team were now coming forward in waves always seemingly able to find the wide men in space. Natianel Clyne and James Milner both seeing a lot more of the ball and getting behind their opposition with ease to provide chance after chance. Only Swansea’s desperate defending was keeping them in the game at this stage.
Daniel Sturridge was getting more involved dropping deeper and linking up with Mané and Couthino more often. As a result by the 72nd minute Swansea had used all of their three subs bring off Routledge, Briton and goal scorer Leroy Fer. Their most impressive players in the first half all taken off by Swansea’s manager as he tried to fill the midfield to stop a threatening Liverpool, who were pouring forward the whole of the second half.
Swansea did manage a couple of counter attacks earning a corner which saw a direct ball across the goal where Karius came and flapped badly at the ball missing it.
After alof of attacks that either faulted due to the last ball or a last ditch block Roberto Firmino took control of a high bouncing ball in the box and as he was turning to shoot at goal, got a nudge in the back, enough to knock him to the floor where upon the referee pointed to the spot for an obvious penalty.
Up stepped Milner again to slot home straight down the middle for his fourth goal in the league and Liverpool were now deservedly in the lead with only seven minutes of the game left.
Emre Can and Divock Origi replaced Winjaldum and Firmino on 84 minutes both having being hugely instrumental in this come back in the second half.
On 88 mins as the game closes out Swansea were caught going forward when Can found himself totally free just outside the box but a poor cross was easily collected by the goalie. With four mins of injury time to be played the Swans did have a clear chance to grab a draw when a cross into the box from nothing was almost nudged to the net by Van der Horn. Karius seemed stuck on his line, a big let off and the last action of a game that saw both teams have one good half each but it was Liverpool who scored when on top to take the points.
Having lost here last May you would have been forgiven for thinking it would be the same again having watched a poor first half display from the away team. A Swansea team that looked like they were playing for their manager in every respect put in a big first half effort In the second half the likes of Milner, Couthino, Firmino, Mané, Clyne and Winjaldum absolutely stepped up and drove the side forward quicker and with decisive passing that was missing in the first half. A game that shows even when we do go behind now we have the ability, craft and patience to stick to a plan and play again and again until that plan pays off.
A big win that moves Liverpool up in to second in the league temporarily waiting to see how the other games go over the weekend.
The lack again of a clean sheet will alarm some but more impressive to me was the attitude on display not to accept the game was over at half time and that it just might be “one of those away days again“. Up next a meeting with the old foe that sees us on a good run of wins and more importantly good performances overall.
Written by @StephenKing75