Liverpool notched a hard-fought win over Swansea at the Liberty Stadium to temporarily take 2nd spot in the Premier League table. Goals from Roberto Firmino and James Milner helped the Reds secure their 4th consecutive league win
It was a scrappy victory alright, but Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool will gleefully take all they can at this point in time, as they look to continue their rich vein of form. Since their loss in the 2nd gameweek to Burnley at Turf Moor, the Reds have won 5 and drawn one over the course of six games in all competitions.
After conceding an early goal through Leroy Fer, the Reds recovered in the second half courtesy of strikes from Roberto Firmino and James Milner to seal the points for Liverpool. While the win gave the Mersesiders and Klopp much to cheer about, it left Swans’ boss Francesco Guidolin pondering about his future at the club. The Hard Tackle takes a look into some talking points from yet another testing outing at the Liberty Stadium for the Reds.
A game of two halves
Swansea began the game the better team outplaying Liverpool at their own tactics as they pressed high up the pitch preventing the Reds from conjuring up any meaningful move. Their efforts eventually bore fruit as they took a deserved lead through Leroy Fer in under 10 minutes.
The Swans were compact in midfield and solid at the back, evidenced by the fact that Liverpool failed to land a single shot on target in a poor first half. The Welsh side even failed to capitalise on a couple of guilt-edged opportunities offered to Borja Baston, which if converted could have well sealed the game for Guidolin’s side in the first half itself.
The Reds’ passing through that half was cause for much worry as they conceded possession in dangerous areas sparking quick-fire counter-attacks from Swansea that left them exposed at the back. The departure of an injured Adam Lallana, who has been a work-horse in the midfield position, did little to help Liverpool’s case. As good a half Swansea had, it was also a case
However, the Reds emerged a far better team in the second half coming off the blocks with anger and hunger reminiscent of their recent performances. And their efforts bore fruit as when Firmino met with a Jordan Henderson cross in the 54th minute to level things up at the Liberty Stadium. The Brazilian was then fouled by Amat in the 82nd minute to hand the Reds their 3rd penalty in one week, which James Milner duly converted to fire them ahead.
Karius has room for improvement
Loris Karius was afforded his first real test in the Premier League against Swansea on Saturday and the German is due a lot of improvement.
Many expected Karius to walk straight in between the posts once he recovered from his hand injury, but recent games are evidence that the 23-year-old will have to earn that honour. He looked indecisive at times leaving his goal exposed to the Swansea attack.
The most glaring of his errors came in the 74th minute when the German left his lines in goal to clear the ball off Sigurdsson’s corner only to miss it completely leaving an open goal that the Swans failed to capitalize on.
Of course, it would be too early to judge Karius based on just two outings but if anything, it’ll provide an on-looking Simon Mignolet ideal incentive to perform well and grab the opportunities that come his way. Such healthy competition will certainly bode well for the Reds as they’ll manage to extract the best out of both.
The midfielder who has played his way into an unlikely left-back position for the Reds has been mighty impressive scoring 4 goals and an assist in the 6 Premier League games he has played a part in. There were some short-comings in the 30-year-old’s play in the 1st half when he looked vulnerable on the left flank and struggled to create as much impact as he did in previous games.
But just like Liverpool, he looked like a different animal in the second half and even scored the decisive goal in the 83rd minute when he coolly slotted his penalty past Fabianski in goal. The midfielder has scored in 45 Premier League games and on each occasion he ended up on the winning side. Not so ‘boring’ after all.
Adam Lallana injury
The major talking point from the game will be Lallana’s first half injury that took him out of action. Post match examinations revealed that the midfielder suffered a groin injury and that he was ruled out of action for England during the international break. The 28-year-old scored the winner during Sam Allardyce’s first (and only) game in-charge against Slovakia.
His absence will obviously come as a blow to England, and Klopp will hope the midfielder could use the break instead to work on recovering before Liverpool’s big game against Manchester United on October 18th. Lallana has been a key figure for the Reds in their impressive start to the season scoring 3 goals and assisting 3 others.
His work ethic, creativity and tenacity has given Liverpool an added sting and impetus in attack and it’s something they could certainly use against their bitter rivals.
Guidolin’s future on the line
Swansea boss Guidolin will feel hard done by the result on Saturday as his side did well to outplay Liverpool, even if only in the first half. The Italian was left to rue his side’s missed opportunities as the Swans continued their poor run having failed to emerge victorious since the opening day of the season.
There was certainly much to cheer about in the way they approached the games against Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool but with a daunting fixture list ahead, there is now little chance Guidolin will keep his job despite the impressive performances.
The owners have come public regarding their search for a potential replacement for the managerial job at the Liberty Stadium and the Swans defeat at the hands of Liverpool could well prove to be the final nail in the Italian’s coffin.
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