As soon as the full-time whistle was blown at Anfield on Monday evening after the 2-0 home defeat to West Bromwich Albion, the vultures of the media circled around Brendan Rodgers’ team. With Liverpool having to travel to the Petrovsky Stadium to face the cash rich Zenit St Petersburg in the Europa League before a tough task at home against their manager’s former club Swansea it looked on the basis of Monday’s result as if it could be a real tough week for Liverpool.
A somewhat unfortunate defeat, yet still a defeat in Russia compounded the media scrutiny on Rodgers ahead of the visit of the Swans however the mood at Anfield was buoyed by the news that Michael Laudrup was resting several of his key players ahead of their Capital One Cup final next weekend. Michu, Ashley Williams and Chico Flores all missed out with Liverpool giving a full début to January acquisition Coutinho alongside Sturridge and Suarez in the familiar shaped attacking trio with which Liverpool have played since the signing of Sturridge in early January.
The first half, up until the thirty-fourth minute of play, was a carbon copy of the West Bromwich game only six days earlier with Liverpool creating chance upon chance only for the final finish to be missing. Daniel Sturridge could have had a hatful with Suarez looking to find the former Chelsea man on every occasion, Downing put a shot wide of the left hand post after fifteen minutes with new boy Coutinho exciting the Kop end with an exquisite first touch and reverse pass through Swansea’s defence into the direction of Sturridge only for it to run too far in front of the centre forward.
It seemed as though things were yet again not going to go the way of Liverpool at Anfield just before the half hour when Suarez picked out Sturridge with a clever pass into the penalty area only for Sturridge to jink his way past every Swansea defender possible and even Michel Vorm before losing his footing and the ball, the loose ball fell straight to Coutinho who saw his moment in front of the Kop but failed to grasp the opportunity and fired his shot wide of the gaping Swansea goal.
However it would be just three minutes later when Liverpool were to be given their proverbial break, Luis Suarez inside the Swansea penalty area beating Kemy Agustien with a drop of the shoulder before being felled by the uncapped Dutchman and Howard Webb’s linesman saw fit to signal for the penalty. Soft, yes but a break Liverpool had undoubtedly earned and following his miss against West Brom Steven Gerrard powered the ball past Michel Vorm into the bottom right hand corner of the net to give Liverpool the goal that had proven to be until that point so elusive.
The remaining fifteen minutes of the first half was a phase of Liverpool turning the screw if you will, breaking through Swansea’s midfield and into their penalty area with an ease that will no doubt worry Michael Laudrup going into next weekend’s trip to Wembley. Suarez and Sturridge linked up once more following a nice one-two between them found Sturridge free and away to the right hand side of the penalty area only for Sturridge’s attempted cross to Suarez ending up looking like a poorly attempt lobbed shot. Liverpool’s first half dominance was illustrated perfectly by the statistic that Leon Britton had completed just eleven of his first half passes, Swansea had hardly had the ball.
Liverpool’s slick passing paid dividends nine minutes into the second half when a neat interchange between Jose Enrique and Daniel Sturridge, which in truth would not have looked out of place in a certain Catalan footballing cathedral, saw Enrique connecting on the end of a Sturridge pass with a toe poked finish into the roof of the Swansea net. At this point it could have been anybody’s guess as to what the final score would be. The chasm between the two sides was just that vast.
A Stewart Downing pass just after the hour found Luis Suarez in space around thirty-five yards from goal however the Uruguayan managed to twist and turn his way past the two Swansea defenders in front of him before placing a curling left footed shot into the bottom right hand corner of the net. If this was a goal that didn’t quite illustrate the lax nature of the Swans defending this afternoon then Liverpool’s fifth and final goal certainly did. A hopeful cross field pass from Jose Enrique into the penalty area was met by the flailing arm of Wayne Routledge, what he was doing in that position, I do not know but Howard Webb’s linesman completed his busy afternoon by signalling for a second Liverpool penalty. Steven Gerrard aware of the contribution made by Sturridge handed the penalty to the new fan favourite at Anfield and he duly powered it past Vorm.
As the game wound down to its conclusion, chants of appreciation and adulation for the retiring Jamie Carragher came from the stands, it struck me as a reminder than he had in fact done very little in this afternoon’s game and come to think of it neither had any other of Liverpool’s backline, in a defensive capacity at least. Swansea City had not tested them one bit and with the defence being at least in my eyes Liverpool’s most concerning weakness thus far this season, this game had done very little to prepare Brendan Rodgers’ side for the visit of Hulk and co this coming Thursday.
So after to goalless games Liverpool were back to scoring ways at Anfield, but today’s game told us nothing we didn’t already know. We all knew Liverpool going forward were a threat and could create chances with ease with the creativity they have in the final third, even more so with Coutinho now on board however it has been the Liverpool defence that has been the worry this year and with the manner in which the goals were conceded in Russia and against West Brom last Monday it is important for Liverpool not to get carried away after today’s win and remember with the impending departure of Carragher this summer a lot of restructuring work has to be done to balance Liverpool’s defence.
On a final note, the only downside Brendan Rodgers will see to today’s performance is the injury that left Liverpool with ten men for the final five minutes of the game. A suspected dislocated shoulder suffered by Fabio Borini rather unfortunately after putting a well-timed tackle in on the halfway line. This is the latest setback in an injury plagued début season at Liverpool for Borini and it is expected that he’ll miss the rest of the season.
- Good Read
News Type: EPL Match Report
Player: Philippe Coutinho
Tags: coutinho, English Premier League Opta Stats, English Premier League Stats, EPL, epl match report, epl opta stats, EPL Stats, LFC, Liverpool, opta, Opta Stats, premier league, premier league opta stats, Sturridge, Swansea City
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