Liverpool’s title aspirations put on hold after loss to Swansea
Jurgen Klopp made more changes after the win against Plymouth in midweek. Restoring the team that looked (on paper) it’s strongest. However Liverpool’s title aspirations were put on hold after Swansea delivered a killer blow winning 3-2 at Anfield. It was actually Swansea’s first ever win at Anfield. Liverpool suffered their first home defeat in almost a year against a relegation threatened side is hard for anyone to understand.
- Philippe Coutinho was back in attack
- Adam Lallana played in a more advanced role.
- Can and Wijnaldum partnering Henderson in midfield.
- Matip was eligible but lack of preparation meant that he was only on the bench, along with Sturridge and Origi.
Liverpool XI: Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Milner, Henderson, Can, Wijnaldum, Coutinho, Firmino, Lallana
Subs used: Sturridge, Origi, Matip
- Llorente’s scored a close-range finish following Federico Fernandez’s header from a corner.
- Followed by a header from Tom Carroll’s cross.
- Firmino scored a header from Milner’s cross.
- Firmino’s second was a fierce finish after he had chested down Wijnaldum’s cross.
- Sigurdsson’s decisive, well-placed finish gave Swansea all three points.
- Klopp finished with Sturridge, Origi and Matip up front but still couldn’t find a way past.
- Defeat leaves Liverpool seven points behind leaders Chelsea, who now have a game in hand.
How did it play out?
Prior to the game Klopp described October’s last game against Swansea – a 2-1 win thanks to a late James Milner penalty – as “one of the toughest we have had all season.” However today we were short of attacking invention and strength in the absence of Sadio Mané. Liverpool were too static at times with little or no movement. Swansea opted for a tight back 4 protected by a 5 man midfield. However it was Liverpool’s failure to move the ball quickly enough in the first half resulting in the packed defence not being properly tested.
On reflection it’s fair to say that whilst the first half was overall promising, Liverpool rarely found fifth gear, let alone sixth. When looking at the league in the morning the points difference was massive between the two clubs. Whilst not necessarily justified, it’s fair to assume that the team thought it would be an ‘easy win’. But this is the Premier League. There is no such thing, remember the Burnley and Bournemouth games?
With Lallana and Firmino leading the press so well, Coutinho pulling the strings you just sensed as half time approached a goal would come soon.
Within moments of the kick off two goals did come. But to Swansea. Liverpool were at worst dreadful and best lost. What had happened? How did Klopp’s team talk go? Why wasn’t their the desired reaction?
Liverpool at a time like this, needed an inspirational figure to lead the attack. Too many years they have relied upon Gerrard to put things right – step forward Firmino. Whilst not an out and out striker, Klopp selects him to lead the line on a regular basis. Lead it he does incredibly well. The only thing missing from his game, if he were to replace a specialist forward is his goal scoring – or lack of. Thankfully he changed that with two superbly taken goals. The first was a powerful header Firmino from Milner’s cross, rising above to adjust in the air and score. As if that wasn’t enough his second was even more special, a fierce finish after he had chested down Wijnaldum’s cross.
We now had enough time to put our demons to bed and finish Swansea off. Klopp had already introduced Sturridge, shortly after Origi entered the arena. Anfield had finally woken up. Liverpool attacking the Kop in search of the final goal. It was only a matter of time before we actually won the game. I for one actually believed we could do it. Whether it was complacency, or just lack of ability to actually defend Klavan and Lovren gift wrapped Swansea’s third goal. Seemingly passing the ball onto Sigurdsson who finished well.
The match had turned upside down again, all we could do was attack and just hope Swansea would crack (again) and also not attack!!
At times the penalty area seemed crowded. Despite the amount of red shirts in it the ball always fell to those wearing white. The best chances fell to Adam Lallana, whose shot deflected onto the bar, Sturridge returned the ball back, which he headed over. That was it. All over. It felt awful. Our dreams shattered.
Our day whilst still young – ruined. So much emotion wrapped up into 20 minutes. Watching, kicking the ball with them, screaming….it was a difficult game to watch. How can a team who lost 4-0 to Arsenal play so well against us? Do it invite it upon ourselves? Does our style of play encourage it? Possibly….but it is now something for Klopp and his team to work on. 2 Cup games before our next league game. Let’s hope we hit Chelsea at full speed. In the aftermath it was mentioned Klopp is a momentum manager. We really could do with some if we want to challenge Chelsea in May.
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