Given Liverpool’s failure to qualify for European football this season, you’d imagine that most fans will be looking forward to this away day, as the Reds cross the Welsh border to face Swansea City on Saturday.
It’s a lunchtime kick-off, one that the Reds will be desperate to win, in another challenge as they hope to establish themselves as serious title contenders under Jürgen Klopp.
Bar one certain result that we all know too well (yes, the 2-0 defeat at Burnley), it’s all going rosily for Liverpool at the moment, with three Premier League wins on the bounce.
Having taken four points from the initial three away games, the Reds were welcomed home by a newly refurbished Anfield, with a crowd of over 50,000 that watched their side destroy Leicester City – the champions – by four goals to one. Less than a week later and they were back in London for the third time in five weeks, and took three points from Chelsea, Jordan Henderson’s peach of a goal helping his side to a 2-1 away win.
Next up came the most polished performance so far this season, according to many, as Klopp’s men swept to a convincing 5-1 victory over Hull City. It must be taken into account that the game was over as a contest within 36 minutes, when Sadio Mane put his side 3-0 up as 10-man Hull rushed to regain some composure. However, it was the manner of victory which put fans in the most upbeat of moods, Liverpool swatting Hull away like a mere fly on the windowsill.
Swansea’s form hasn’t been quite so convincing, although the masses tend to stipulate that the Jacks deserve more than the four points they’ve collected up to this point.
Having recorded three points at Burnley on the opening day, something Liverpool failed to do, Francesco Guidolin’s men went on to lose their next two, before becoming the first side this season to take points from Antonio Conte’s Chelsea. Defeats to Manchester City and Southampton followed, although they did hold City at 1-1 for around an hour, Pep Guardiola hailing the game as the toughest test his side have faced so far this season.
Liverpool are currently fourth, but could have dropped down a place by kick-off if Everton pick up points against Crystal Palace on Friday night. However, if results go the Reds’ way, they’ll end the weekend in second. Swansea are 17th as it stands, and their position come Monday morning could range from 11th-20th.
Although it’s been a relatively quiet few days for Liverpool’s medical staff, nigh does a week go by where there isn’t an injury problem to talk about, Divock Origi the latest as he picked up a blow to the foot in training, which could keep him out of Saturday’s 18.
Sheyi Ojo has suffered a setback in his recovery, just as the young starlet looked set to return to first team training. Joe Gomez remained sidelined, whilst Mamadou Sakho continued his controversial recovery from injury with 90 minutes for the U23 side on Wednesday evening.
Klopp faces a tricky decision to pick the front three, with Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane competing for three places. Although Sturridge won a penalty within minutes of coming off the bench last weekend, you’d expect that he’s going to be the one to miss out.
Further back, the midfield is likely to be unchanged as Emre Can is kept waiting for a Premier League start, whilst it’s already been confirmed by Klopp that Loris Karius will keep his place in goal. Dejan Lovren could replace Ragnar Klavan after missing out on the Hull game due to a virus.
For Swansea, Federico Fernandez and Nathan Dyer will both miss the game through injury, with a fully fit squad elsewhere. It remains to be seen whether or not Guidolin will ring the changes, as he battles to keep his job.
Predicted Liverpool XI (4-3-3-): Karius; Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Lallana; Mane, Coutinho, Firmino.
Predicted Swansea XI (4-4-1-1): Fabianski; Rangel, Amat, van der Hoorn, Naughton; Britton, Cork, Fer, Routledge; Sigurdsson; Llorente.
WHEN THEY LAST MET
It was an extremely disappointing day for the Reds the last time they played Swansea, going down by three goals to one in South Wales towards the end of last season. With the game wedged in-between the Europa League semi-final clashes against Villarreal, Klopp fielded Liverpool’s youngest side ever in the Premier League era, with the likes of Danny Ward, Brad Smith, Pedro Chirivella and Sheyi Ojo all playing from the off.
Andre Ayew, now of West Ham, opened the scoring in the first half before Jack Cork doubled the Swans’ lead. Christian Benteke, a half-time substitute, gave Liverpool brief hope with a goal in the 65th minute, but Ayew restored Swansea’s two goal advantage just minutes later.
It was worth it, to an extent, as the Reds were out of the race for a top four spot by then, and would go on to progress to the Europa League final a few days later.
- These two sides have met eachother 12 times since 2011, Swansea not losing any of the first three meetings before going on a winless streak of eight games against Liverpool, ended last season.
- Swansea and Liverpool conceded the most amount of goals from corners in the Premier League last season.
- Before last season’s defeat, Liverpool had won five successive games against Swansea.
- There have been more than two goals scored in each of Liverpool’s last three league games, whilst Swansea have conceded at least two goals in their three most recent home games.
- Liverpool are yet to keep a Premier League clean sheet this season.
Match: Swansea City vs Liverpool
Venue: Liberty Stadium
Date: Saturday 1st October
Time: 12:30 BST
Referee: Michael Oliver
PREDICTION: Swansea City 2-3 Liverpool
Right, so, my prediction last week (3-0) was right in the sense that the Reds won, but further away from the scoreline than I have been in recent weeks. I can see goals in this one, and imagine Fernando Llorente might have fun against our defence. However, we’re scoring buckets at the moment, so I can’t predict anything other than a high scoring 3-2 victory. Not sure why, but I fancy Firmino for a couple. Wijnaldum to net the other, as he’s due a goal.