Swansea City vs Liverpool
TV: Sky Sports Main Event
Monday Night Football is not too far away as we see struggling Swansea take on Liverpool at the Liberty Stadium. George Pavlou takes us through the Premier League encounter from a Liverpool perspective.
Many Liverpool fans will be relishing this one, MNF is a special kind of animal! Liverpool are already aware of the results around them and will be looking to keep up the pace with Man Utd and Chelsea, who won, but they’ll be extending the gap between themselves and Spurs if they can come away with all 3 points.
Last time out, at Anfield last month, Liverpool managed to inflict a 5-0 hammering against Swansea which in turn added fuel to the fire for Swansea’s abysmal start to the season. At the time, Swansea were without a manager with caretaker Leon Britton in charge for the clash. New manager Carlos Carvalhal took charge after the fixture and since then, there hasn’t been a huge turn around, although they have only lost 1 in their last 5 (drawing 2). The new manager is starting to stabilise the team but what does that mean for Liverpool?
Liverpool are in a rich vein of form and are unbeaten in their last 18 matches in all competitions (drawing 5 and winning 12). Away from home, they are unbeaten in 7 and this season they have only been beaten 3 times away from Anfield, 4-1 Vs Spurs, 2-0 Vs Leicester and 5-0 Vs Man City. Teams at the bottom of the table haven’t managed to undo Liverpool so far this season with only Newcastle stealing a draw at their home ground, however; in recent years, Swansea haven’t quite been a pushover team for Liverpool. It’s on honours even in the last 4 H2H with Swansea and Liverpool both winning twice, if we went with the trends and nothing more, this one would be down to a Swansea win. Both these sides haven’t drawn since a 2-2 in 2013.
Liverpool will be all guns blazing between now and February, before the Champions League returns. The world’s most expensive defender, Van Dijk, is back in training after he missed the epic 4-3 Manchester City win last time out with a thigh strain and Salah missed a day of training due to a common cold but should be fit and in contention for a starting place also. Robertson and Oxlade-Chamberlain were faultless against City and I’d expect them both to keep their starting places, despite Milner, Lallana and Henderson pushing for a start also. Moreno is back in training but I couldn’t imagine he’d be ready to go just yet.
Karius, Gomez, Van Dijk, Matip, Robertson, Can, Ox, Wijnaldum, Mane, Firmino, Salah
Karius is set to keep is set to keep his place in goal and has a lot to prove at the moment. Matip is set to partner with Van Dijk, with Lovren struggling to be fit. Klavan should have recovered from illness also and should be included in the match day squad. Liverpool are not quite out of the woods defensively, they haven’t kept a clean sheet since they faced Swansea in December so there is still lots of work to be done. Just looking at the table, Swansea’s biggest downfall this season has been goals with just 14 scored in 23 Premier League games! Liverpool’s worst trait this season (and last season… and the season before!!) has been their defence.Embed from Getty Images
If Swansea can create a few chances and are clinical enough, they can cause Liverpool problems at the back. Time will tell whether Liverpool can get it right in the coming weeks but Swansea have nothing to lose here and should try and hit Liverpool where it usually hurts, set pieces. Liverpool will come out as normal and play a high press with Firmino leading the line and will try and bombard Swansea with lots of attacking pressure and possession of the ball. Swansea will need to make real use of the ball when they have it if they are to come away with anything here. With all this being said, I don’t think Swansea will try to sit back, or at least, they haven’t necessarily done this under new boss Carvalhal yet. Hard to say how they will approach this game but being heavy relegation candidates may mean at some point this season they will have to go for broke and sitting back won’t achieve that!
I can honestly say, the biggest change I’ve seen with Liverpool this season is that they’ve started to find little ways to win ugly! Man Utd have done and did do this for many many years, which has led to an extended period of success in various competitions. If we start to see this more from Liverpool they could slowly start to be in the mix for the title and other cup competitions too.
I do personally expect Liverpool to come away with all 3 points, Klopp will demand it and Liverpool should continue their great run here. My prediction, 3-1 to the mighty reds with Salah, not for the first time, causing havoc. A Salah goal will be his 25th of the season and he’d surpass Gerrard and Sturridge’s season records of 24 goals in 08/09 and 13/14 respectively.
My first preview for 90MAAT, hopefully many many more to come. If you liked it, feel free to send a message via twitter to @90MAAT_ (I’m sure they will pass on your thoughts).
Written by George Pav.