Manager Garry Monk made 3 changes to the team which started the Europa League fixture against Napoli on Thursday, with Neil Taylor, Jonjo Shelvey and Jonathan De Guzman replacing Ben Davies, Jose Canas and Pablo Hernandez. Liverpool also made 3 changes bringing in Mignolet, Johnson and Henderson, with ex Swan Joe Allen dropping to the bench for the home side.
We couldn’t have got off to a worse start in this game. With less than 3 minutes on the clock, Angel Rangel lost possession in the Liverpool half. Rahem Sterling seized the ball and played a defence splitting pass to Daniel Sturridge who beat Michel Vorm to the ball and slotted home with his left foot. It looked like a possible foul on Rangel to me but nothing was given by match day official Michael Jones and we were 1-0 down.
Wilfried Bony had chances to level for the Swans after 7 minutes and 13 minutes, after good work by Jonjo Shelvey on each occasion on his return to Anfield. Shelvey, himself struck a shot from 25 yards after17 minutes having found room in midfield, with Steven Gerhard sitting too deep and giving the Londoner plenty of space and room.
However, after a spell of Swansea pressure, matters went from bad to worse. Jordan Henderson accepted the ball on the edge of the box, following impressive work by Sturridge on the flank. The midfielder then swept the ball beautifully into the corner of the net for his first goal at Anfield this season.
Just 3 minutes later, Nathan Dyer got on the ball on the right wing and cut inside, before pushing the ball to Shelvey, who hit it first time curling the ball into the top corner of the Liverpool net. Not only was it a top class goal by Jonjo but also a top class reaction as he apologetically saluted the home fans. Then on 26 minutes, we levelled, when a Wilfried Bony header hit the Sketel on route to goal. What a comeback!
It was clear that Liverpool didn’t expect such a reaction from the Swans, as the home side went flat both on the pitch and on the terraces (well seats these days). But matters changed again on 35 minutes, Suarez received the ball on the left flank and crossed for Daniel Sturridge to restore the home side’s lead, having found space between the 2 Swansea centre halves. Again, as was the case with Liverpool’s first 2 goals, it was all too easy against a ragged Swans’ defence.
The first half ended a remarkable 3-2 to Liverpool, with the Swans taking heart from the fact that although being down, they had enjoyed plenty of possession and chances. A great half for the neutral spectator but no good for my nerves!
Jonjo Shelvey was replaced by Jose Canas at half time. Then with just a minute of the second half gone, Nathan Dyer put a tremendous cross into the cross and big Wilfried Boy was felled by Skertel in the box. Bony took the resultant penalty himself, coolly placing the ball into the bottom left hand corner for 3-3.
After 55 minutes, Glen Johnson fouled Nathan Dyer outside the box and Jon De Guzman narrowly missed with the free kick from 25 yards. A minute later, Joe Allen joined the fray in place of Raheem Sterling in an effort by Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers to get hold of the ball and bring his team more into the game.
Chico Flores made one of his customary slip ups midway through the second half, opening up the pitch for Daniel Sturridge to score his hat trick, however a brilliant last ditch challenge by Captain Ashley Williams blocked the shot. Chico then took a nasty knock on his knee, but recovered following treatment by Swans’ physio Richie Buchannan. Cue plenty of booing from the home faithful, as Chico’s dubious reputation amongst opposing fans gained more momentum.
Cruelly on 73 minutes, Liverpool scored again through Jordan Henderson. Not for the first time, we gave the home side too much time and space and despite a smart save by Michel Vorm from Henderson’s initial shot, the midfielder was on hand to score from the rebound.
Pablo Hernandez and David Ngog replaced Jon De Guzman and Nathan Dyer as manager Garry Monk shuffled the pack. In fact Ngog, on his return to Anfield started brightly, making a couple of decent runs down the right flank and having one effort on goal.
Steven Gerrard hit the post late on for Liverpool in his 600th start for the club, but a fifth goal for Liverpool would have been harsh for the Swans.
In summary, the Swans put up a good fight this afternoon at Anfield and should not be too down hearted by this defeat. 2-0 down early in the game, we should have been dead and buried, but a spirited fight back showed that since Garry Monk took over we have our mojo back.
There were good performances by a number of players, notably Britton, Dyer, Shelvey and Bony. However, we did struggle at the back against a potent Liverpool strike force, with Sturridge in particular a real threat throughout the game. It was interesting to see little Joe Allen come on as substitute and in fairness, he did well when he came on.
So it’s on to Napoli on Thursday night, before an important home game in the league against Crystal Palace next Sunday. I’d love to see us triumph in Italy, especially as I am travelling out for the game, but really the Palace game is the bigger one and a game we need to win. Onwards and upwards!
The teams and player marks (out of 10):
Swansea City: Vorm 7, Rangel 5, Taylor 5, Chico 5, Williams (Captain) 5, Britton 8, De Guzman 6 (Hernandez 5), Shelvey 8 (Canas 6), Routledge 7, Dyer 8 (Ngog 6), Bony 8. Unused substitutes: Tremmel, Tiendalli, Amat, Emnes
Swans’ man of the match: Leon Britton
Scorers: Bony (2), Shelvey
Liverpool: Mignolet 5, Johnson 5, Skrtel 5, Agger 4 (Toure 5), Flanagan 5, Gerrard 5, Henderson 8, Coutinho 7, Suarez 7, Sturridge 8 (Moses 5), Sterling 7 (Allen 7). Unused substitutes: Jones, Cissokho, Aspas, Tiexeira.
Liverpool man of the match: Daniel Sturridge
Scorers: Sturridge 2, Henderson 2
Possession stats: Swans 46%, Liverpool 54%.
The match referee: Michael Jones 7. Just 1 booking for Skrtel and a penalty awarded to the Swans’ for a foul on Bony. A few controversial decisions but generally OK.