Hit the road Jack! Swansea City are yet again on their travels this weekend as they travel to play Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday. After picking up our first point on our travels last time out against Wolves and maintaining the unbeaten home record against Bolton last week, Brendan Rodgers will feel that they have a great opportunity to claim our first win on the road of the year and claim a major scalp in the process.
Kemy Agustien and Steven Caulker have both returned to training but this game could have fallen too soon for them and both will be aiming to hit the ground running after the international break. Garry Monk and Ashley Williams look set to continue at the heart of the defence with Mark Gower who has averaged 3.5 chance assists per game this season continuing to support Joe Allen and Leon Britton in midfield. Danny Graham is hitting a rich vein of form with 4 in his last 4 (excluding the one in his own net) and he may be in for an afternoon feeding off scraps.
Liverpool need no introduction to most football fans around the world. They lay claim to being one of the most famous football teams in the world and boast of 5 European Cup and Champions League wins as well as 18 Top flight championship titles. However, in comparison, they have been going through a dry spell recently and their last title win came in 1990, despite reaching the Champions league final in 2007 and winning it in 2005. The drama behind the scenes at Liverpool has taken centre stage rather than the action on it. Bad ownership, a problem that the Swans are all too familiar with dominated the headlines with Tom Hicks and George Gillett running the club into the ground. After Rafael Benitez left to manage Inter Milan at the end of the 2009/10 season, Liverpool appointed Roy Hodgson to lead the club, who did not have the easiest time at the club and was subsequently sacked in January 2011 with the club sitting in 12th position. The appointment of club cult hero Kenny Dalglish prompted renewed optimism at Anfield both on and off the field as Dalglish guided Liverpool to a 6th place finish, despite the sale of Fernando Torres. Dalglish has also boosted the playing squad by bringing in a wealth of British talent such as Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Stuart Downing and Andy Carroll but perhaps his most astute signing was the capture of the Uruguayan World Cup villain Luis Suarez who has settled into the British game remarkably quickly.
Liverpool lined up last time out in a 4-4-2 formation and will be likely to do so again on Saturday as they will have looked at this game as 3 points they need. Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez look likely to lead the line but captain and talisman Steven Gerrard is out with a thigh injury.
Last time out (Won 2-0 vs. West Brom)
Pepe Reina; Glen Johnson, Jose Enrique, Daniel Agger, Martin Sktrel; Stuart Downing, Jordan Henderson, Stuart Downing, Charlie Adam, Lucas; Luis Suarez, Andy Carroll
At the Back
Pepe Reina has been a consistent rock between the sticks for Liverpool in recent years and had he not been Spanish, he would be capped at international level far more. Jamie Carragher is a local lad that has been at the club for years. Other international defenders on Liverpool’s books include Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger and Danny Wilson. Jose Enrique and Fabio Aurelio are both very capable defenders who have yet to be recognised by their countries at senior level. Martin Kelly, Jon Flanagan and Jack Robinson are three of Liverpool’s promising defensive youngsters who will be hoping to make at least the bench come Saturday.
In the Middle
Even without skipper Steven Gerrard, Liverpool have talent in abundance in midfield. Lucas is a former captain of Brazil Under 20’s and has an Olympic Bronze Medal to his name following Brazil’s 3rd place finish in Beijing. Charlie Adam can be deadly from a dead ball situation and has the ability to pick a pass out from nowhere. He was instrumental in Blackpool surviving until the last day of last season. Jordan Henderson and Stuart Downing are both England internationals playing in their first season at Anfield. Maxi Rodriguez is a tricky player to deal with and he will be hoping he can showcase his talent on Saturday. Also able to play midfield for Liverpool are academy products Jay Spearing, Conor Coady and 16 year old Raheem Sterling.
Luis Suarez is the obvious danger man from our point of view with the Uruguayan finding the net 7 times this season in all competitions. Andy Carroll has had a fair bit of stick since joining the Reds mainly for his high price tag but he has the ability to trouble defences as Swansea found out when he equalised for Newcastle in the 88th minute at the Liberty despite Swansea dominating the game. Dirk Kuyt’s work rate and never say die attitude has established him as a fans favourite at Anfield. Liverpool also have Swansea’s favourite opposition player (ok so that may be slightly exaggerated) Craig Bellamy in their squad.
Luis Suarez vs. Ashley Williams
Suarez is at the top of his game at the moment and will be looking to continue his rich reign of form into Saturday. Ashley Williams is a defender who has shown class this season and Saturday should prove yet another stern test for the former Welsh skipper. Should Ashley get the better of him, it could be a frustrating afternoon for the Uruguayan.
Charlie Adam vs. Mark Gower
Charlie Adam moved from Rangers to Championship Blackpool to get first team football. Fast forward 2 ½ years, Adam is considered one of the best dead ball specialists and passers in the Premier League. Unfortunately for Liverpool, they are coming up against a Swansea team renowned for how well they pass the ball and close down opponents when they have it. Mark Gower will have to excel on Saturday in order to ensure Charlie Adam gets no space.
Leon Britton vs. Lucas Leiva
Leon Britton has been immense so far this season and has rightly earned the plaudits that come with it. Lucas Leiva is a good footballer but does have a disciplinary record having been sent off for his country in both the Copa America and the Olympics. Should Britton starve him of the ball and frustrate him, if he became frustrated, this could lead to more holes in the Liverpool midfield that’s already outnumbered 3 to 2.
Scott Sinclair vs. Glen Johnson
Glen Johnson is already highly rated as an attacking full back but the jury is still out on whether he is a world class defensive right back. Sinclair has the opportunity to pit his wits against England’s fullback and really stake his claim of being a Premier League quality winger.
Head to Head
The last time Swansea and Liverpool met, it finished 8-0 to the reds in the cup where a Swansea fan memorably scored against Bruce Grobelaar (the footage is on YouTube). The Swans have failed to score in 5 of the last 6 meetings between the teams but on the other side of the coin, Liverpool have conceded 1 goal in each of their last 5 league games at Anfield and have yet to keep a clean sheet at home in the league this year.
9/1/1990 Liverpool 8-0 Swansea
6/1/1990 Swansea 0-0 Liverpool
9/4/1983 Liverpool 3-0 Swansea
18/9/1982 Swansea 0-3 Liverpool
16/2/1982 Swansea 2-0 Liverpool
2/1/1982 Swansea 0-4 Liverpool
Conclusions and Prediction
Liverpool will be bookies favourites going into the game but can Swansea get something out of this game? Yes, I think we can. Backed by a packed out away end, hopefully Liverpool fans won’t be walking alone, but walking out in droves when the Swans get the win. But realistically, a point from this game is an excellent result and that is what I’m going to predict.
Prediction – Liverpool 1-1 Swansea
This article was written by Matt Wallace