Swansea City and Liverpool FC played out a dull goal-less draw at the Liberty Stadium in a lunchtime kickoff fixture. Brendan Rodgers’ return to the Liberty stadium did not follow the script he would have ideally liked.
Swansea City lined up in a 4-2-3-1 fashion with Tremmel in goal and the back four consisting of Rangel, Williams, Chico and Davies. Britton and De Guzman were the holding midfielders while Hernandez, Michu and Routledge were the attacking ones. Shechter was retained as the lone striker in the starting lineup after Danny Graham failed to recover from his illness. There were 2 changes in the lineup from their win against Newcastle. Chico and Routledge came in for Garry Monk and Nathan Dyer.
Liverpool played in the typical 4-3-3 formation so favoured by Rodgers since his Swansea days – Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Downing, Allen, Gerrard, Henderson, Sterling, Suarez, Enrique. Looking at Liverpool’s line-up, one would be expecting Enrique to be playing at left back and Downing on the left wing but it was rather the other way around. The reason for this surprising selection is a result of the Red’s last fixture against Wigan where the Spaniard impressed playing in a more advanced role, popping up with a goal and an assist, while the England international had been employed in defence a few times this season – mostly in the midweek matches in Europe. Liverpool also had 2 changes from the side that thrashed Wigan at Anfield. Downing and Henderson started with Suso dropping to the bench and Andre Wisdom failing to shake off knee injury suffered midweek.
The match was a tightly contested affair with the bulk of the battle played in the middle of the park. Liverpool started slowly but slowly grew into the match. Swansea hit their stride quickly and were into their aesthetically pleasing passing brand of football fostered by Rodgers and adapted by Laudrup. The first attempt at goal was by Swansea- it was in the 12th minute when Routledge forced Reina into a good save. Hernandez cut inside with effect and played in Routledge who took the ball in his stride and then shot. Reina got down to his left to palm it away. Liverpool responded when Glen Johnson’s cross from the byline on the right was met by an onrushing Enrique but his chested effort was off-target. Swansea had Tremmel to thank when the goalkeeper got his body behind a shot by Johnson after a quick one-two with Enrique and the ball sailed over the bar for a Liverpool corner.
The impressive Pablo Hernandez fashioned a chance of his own when he cut in and tried to curl an effort into the top far corner from 20 yards, but it sailed just wide of the post with Reina looking well beaten. A sloppy ill-judged backheeled pass from Gerrard was intercepted by Britton who passed to De Guzman. However, when two players were screaming for the pass, De Guzman went for goal himself, firing miles wide. The best chance of the half fell for Raheem Sterling who saw his fierce thumping drive hit the underside of the crossbar. In the 33rd minute, Liverpool was left feeling aggrieved when Suarez’s delicate chipped pass was met with a tap-in from Enrique but the goal was correctly flagged off-side. A less than enthralling first half ended with both sides heading into the tunnel with the scores level.
Liverpool started as the brighter of the 2 sides in the second half. Suarez forced Tremmel into a fine body save with a powerful strike from a tight angle. Swansea responded with some decent build-up but Michu’s tame header was easily held by Reina. A Swansea set-piece had a goalbound header from Williams cleared off the line by Joe Allen at the far post. Laudrup tried to inject some pace in the match by ringing the changes and bringing on Dyer. He sped past the hapless Downing only to be foiled by an alert Reina as the two required medical attention after a sickening collision. Swansea had a penalty appeal turned down after Michu was brought down by Agger in the box. Rodgers replaced Downing and Henderson with Joe Cole and Shelvey with Enrique dropping down to left back.
Liverpool threatened to snatch the three points when a Reina punch fell to Suarez, but after a one-two with Sterling, the Uruguayan shot straight at Tremmel. Liverpool had a scare when Hernandez’s free kick required Reina to be at full stretch to palm away his effort. The final chance of the match fell to Shelvey whose stinging strike from the edge of the box had to be saved by the Swansea goalkeeper.
An evenly contested match with few clear cut opportunities – a draw seems a fair enough result. It was the eighth consecutive Premier League match that Liverpool went unbeaten and they leapfrog Stoke City to be 11th in the table. With their point, Swansea move up to 9th in the table. It was a game in which Liverpool’s frailties in front of goal were exposed. Their dependence on Suarez for the goals once again came to the fore – when he does not score, neither do Liverpool. Some food for thought for Brendan Rodgers as the winter transfer window approaches.
Possession 50% 50%
Passes 522 533
Passing Accuracy 85% 85%
Shots 18 21
Fouls 7 10
Corners 7 6
Bookings 1(Chico) 0
Offsides 0 3
Man of the Match: Pablo HernandezPublished 26 Nov 2012, 00:16 IST