SWANSEA 0 – 1 LIVERPOOL
Liverpool got the win they needed quite badly against Swansea.
Other Premier League fixtures that had happened on the 15th (Sunday) didn’t exactly go as we had wanted. Manchester United went up against Tottenham Hotspurs who had the opportunity to take three points off them and leave Liverpool with an opportunity to take 4th place from them – even before we have our match against them on March 22nd. However Tottenham didn’t look like they ever wanted to win that game, right from the first whistle of the game. They had allowed United to have scored three times in the first 45 minutes, the first happening in under 10 minutes (start as you mean to go on, I guess). As for their “star player” Harry Kane, he didn’t score (as he has done 26 times already this season alone) and frankly that was what screamed “we don’t WANT to win this game” to me. Spurs were just not willing to give Liverpool a chance to steal 4th place yet in my opinion. It won’t change the fact the we can still take 4th place though… we just have to beat Man United at Anfield to do it now. Anyway, back to the Swansea game.
The lineup was rather “as expected”, but for a couple of things. Martin Skrtel had been an injury worry recently, but he had been declared fit enough to play in this game, days ago. There was still an outside chance that the manager would “rest him” though. Eventually, we found out that Skrtel was in the starting 11. Steven Gerrard also had returned very recently from his hamstring injury and just like Skrtel, wasn’t 100 % guaranteed to get a place in the starting 11. He would be named as substitute and eventually make an appearance with half an hour to go in the game. His impact was fairly noticeable in this game, we scored shortly after Gerrard had made his way onto the pitch.
Something also worth mentioning also was that BRAD JONES IS BACK! The media has been rather silent about Jones as he began recovering from his injury and this is the first time we’ve seen him back in the squad since he was injured. Mignolet now has began to claim top form again (with a record amount of clean sheets, seemingly being better than most other goalkeepers in the entire Premier league) unfortunately for Brad and even though he is fully fit, Rodgers is unlikely to be choosing Jones over Mignolet now as was the case earlier this season.
The first half of this game must have gone to Swansea’s plan – they had their “diamond” (shaped) formation, with 4 of their midfielders creating problems for Liverpool as Jonjo Shelvey and his friends seemed to be keeping the ball away from our players quite often and also making tackles quite regularly when we had possession of the ball. It became quite difficult for Liverpool to push past this diamond of midfielders. Even Coutinho’s magic was stopped from happening, he just couldn’t find the way through to the goal to even get a chance for shooting at a range that was likely to provide a goal. Sturridge would be at least double-marked at all times (two defenders on him) and it was making it very unlikely that he would score a goal. Sterling looked dangerous at times but was fairly tightly marked whenever he was attacking also. Alberto Moreno played well down on the left wing and was able to get some quality balls into the box at the times he made it past their defense. Their goalkeeper was at times tested and had to pull off some saves but the ball wouldn’t make it’s way into the net any more than once in the entire game.
After the game, Rodgers claimed to have made significant changes to the team at half time to counter-act this “diamond” being so effective against our team. Considering that we managed to score in the second half, I’d say the manager’s plan worked as we played far more dangerously in the last 45 minutes of the game and eventually claimed ourselves a goal and all three points from the fixture. Nice one, boss.
It was a little frustrating to see former Liverpool player Jonjo Shelvey doing so well against the club that really shaped him into the fine player he has become for Swansea now. He went about the pitch, tackling his old teammates, dispossessing us as we pushed forward towards their half and putting balls past our players, creating dangerous opportunities for the Swansea attackers. There were moments in the game where I had thought “it doesn’t look like we will be able to score today” because their diamond midfield (which included Shelvey) was really getting difficult to deal with, but I was happy to be proven wrong about that eventually.
The only goal of the game would come from a break by Daniel Sturridge… he had about three players around him (they had been marking him quite tightly), but Sturridge would manage to squeeze the ball to Henderson through a small gap in the defence, a Swansea defender came sliding in with a tackle, the Swansea goalkeeper came rushing out towards Henderson and Hendo would manage to avoid the oncoming sliding tackle, then lob the ball over the goalkeeper who was now off his goal line into the net, making it Swansea 0 – 1 Liverpool.
Jordan Henderson is becoming a fine first team player that looks like he could claim the captain’s armband once Steven Gerrard has moved on and joined LA Galaxy. I would be happy to see him become the next regular first team captain, he’s a leader and inspirational to all who feel they can make the difference that is needed in their side, someone to motivate the rest of the squad to success. To lead by example.
I am officially naming Jordan Henderson as my “man of the match” for this game. He saved the day, nobody else scored and it was a fine goal that helped us claim all three points. Without it, we’d have had a goalless draw no doubt and only one point. That simply wouldn’t have been acceptable as we wouldn’t have had the opportunity for taking 4th place if we beat Man United soon. We’re two points behind them. their goal difference is about 11 goals better than Liverpool’s and being equal on points would not be of any advantage to Liverpool, we need to go at least 1 point clear of them if we win. That meant a victory against Swansea was essential for our preparation in taking 4th place from United and as the only goalscorer of the game, Henderson certainly seemed to be most helpful in achieving that.
After the game Henderson would say to the media “Liverpool have the confidence and momentum to face (Manchester) United now, we’ll be ready for them”. You heard it, from our vice captain! WE ARE READY FOR YOU, UNITED. BRING IT!
The fixture against Manchester united will take place on Sunday 22nd March, 2015 at 13:30 (GMT) at Anfield. We don’t even have a cup game to play before then, since it’s been decided that our FA Cup replay with Blackburn will be taking place on April 8th.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so i was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (about 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.
I’m a die hard Liverpool fan (only supported ONE club in my whole life, Liverpool) and one of the most dedicated fans you’ll ever meet.