We’ve been to some iconic stadia already this year – the Emirates, Stamford Bridge, the Etihad included- but none of those exude the shiver that a football fan gets from Liverpool’s home venue. Go on, say it, Anfield. All over the footballing planet, people will know where you are. From the timeless vibe of the “This is Anfield” sign that greets the teams as they make their way onto the pitch to the Shankly Gates and Hillsborough Memorial commemorating a real tragedy, this is a ground that makes you proud to be there. History hangs heavy.
Swansea’s visit this week came after a comprehensive win over Bolton, whilst the Reds were following a 2-0 win at West Brom. BR went with a team that showed one surprising change with Scott Sinclair, carrying a slight hamstring twang, replaced by Wayne Routledge. On the bench with Sinclair, Kemy Agustien returned. King Kenny Dalgliesh meanwhile continued with £35million Andy Carroll partnering the prolific Luis Suarez up front and Henderson standing in for the injured Gerrard. The Tattoo twins, Skrtel (he of too few vowels) and Agger (doo doo doo -a great Dane?), were at Centreback.
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique, Henderson, Lucas, Adam, Downing, Carroll, Suarez. Subs: Doni, Maxi, Coates, Kuyt, Spearing, Kelly, Bellamy.
Swansea: Vorm, Rangel, Monk, Williams, Taylor, Gower, Britton, Allen, Routledge, Graham, Dyer. Subs: Tremmel, Sinclair, Lita, Moore, Agustien, Richards, Moras.
Early exchanges were lively with Swansea giving as good as they got, particularly in ball retention, but over the period of the half, Liverpool squeezed and battled as Home teams do to emerge the more likely to score.Despite this clear cut control, their only out and out goal chance came when Downing crossed from the left, only for Carroll, clear in the six yard box, to fail to live up to his price tag by hitting the bar when it was easier to score.
Half chances at either end included Rotledge for Swansea creating for both Dannt Graham and Joe Allen, and Michel Vorm turning aside a sharp Suarez shot and cumbersome but persistent Liverpool pressure.
The Swans continued to compete, with the travelling JackArmy putting the Kop to the test by vocalising support for their own team as an equal, if not better, version than the Home supporters efforts. “Swansea, oh Swansea”, “Hymns and Arias”, “Swans will tear you apart” (a la Joy Division) rang out, as City knuckled down to contain, but not quite better, Liverpool’s efforts.My personal current No 1 is “You’ve only come to watch the Swans” ringing loud and proud.A good Away following is helpful not only to the team it sings for, but adds to the passionate atmosphere within any ground, as we at the Lib can testify.We have a GREAT Away following.It did its job wonderfully.Watching on my Internet Stream I was glad to see us get to half time, level at 0-0 and, hopefully, Brendan’s tweaks able to make us more competitive.
We all know the feeling of twitching, involurantly, when that last ditch tackle just HAS to be made. Heading every ball (from 200 odd miles away),being afraid to go and make a cup of tea (someone WILL score, probably THEM), and URGING,WILLING,PRAYING for things to go your own team’s way.
Fortunately, for me, and us, Brendan delivered. I was not disappointed, because the Swans came out and gave a display of why they deserve to be in this Division.
By again retaining the bulk of possession but with more purpose,from passing and moving and creating, it was possible to see that they were not only comfortable, they might have gone on to win. Joey Allen, Mark Gower and Leon Britton showed, time and again, that they’re a Midfield unit that’s both clever and effective. Their promptings allowed Dyer, Routledge and Graham to threaten.
A word to the wise.Nathan Dyer, as Swans have seen, can always be both a help to the defence and a real threat going forward. Wayne Routledge confirmed that he,too, is a class act. He had been good in the first half- he was again. DG did his now accepted channel running, helping out defensively, and all but scored when he closed Pepe Reina down.
The defence was again solid.(Solid?? at Anfield, to get something,you have to be). Rangel and Taylor linked, passed,tackled and performed to excellent effect. Monk and Williams, under intense pressure, exuded class and defiance.And just when Liverpool thought that they were there, there was Vorm.The Dutch International keeper gave another example of what we’ve seen so far this season by producing a clutch of outstanding saves.I’ve said on Twitter- if Steeklenburg is the Dutch No 1 keeper then he must have four arms, because to be better than our keeper he’d have to have an unfair advantage.
Swansea’s equivalent opportunity to Carroll’s came when Dyer’s good cross was headed down by Danny Graham to Mark Gower, six yards out, but his left foot attempt under challenge went wastefully over the bar.We all put heads in hands, Gower included.
It’s only fair to say that during this fantastically competitive second half, the ‘Pool threw everything at us. I’ve bigged us up enough above- they were equally inventive and competitive- in fact, the match could fairly be described by that old cliche as being “one of the best 0-0 draws I’ve seen”.
As the clock ticked down, the Merseysiders threw everything at us. Minutes from the end, Dirk Kuyt, on as a sub, headed one home only to be denied- justifiably- by the offside flag of Sian Massey (that’s the best Linesperson in the Prem then). Vorm’s late saves again held the line, perhaps the best of which was his instictive parry from another net bound drive that sent the ball rocketing into the stands. What a keeper!
When the final whistle blew, I leaped up shouting “YES! YES! YES!” because this had been, I believe, a performance that not only can we all be proud of, but one which shows people in and around Football that we have a certain something about us. Call it style, ability, determination, nous, whatever. I call it all of that.
We are, after all, Swansea City.
#Commentator and Pundit corner.
As a 0-0 draw, we were always going to be the last game on MOTD. That’s the way the Beeb operates- goals are generally front loaded for the broadcast. Hansen and Lawro, along with Lineker, this week gave more praise than has been their previous efforts, including a “…this lot can play”. No shit, Sherlock.
Barry Horne, who did the co-commentary on Sky, will always be second rate in my judgement, but even he was forced to concede we were up to the task as the game progressed.
And Kammy and Ben Sheperd were more gracious still on Goals on Sunday this morning- there were no guest pundits due to the early start I suppose.I look forward to Lee Dixon’s assessment on MOTD2 tonight.
This article was written by Peter Thomas