Liverpool host Swansea City on Saturday looking for their first Premier League win of 2017, three weeks into it!
Facing bottom of the table Swansea at Anfield is theoretically the best fixture that the Reds could have been handed this weekend, but there’s always the worry of a slip up in this league.
Match: Liverpool vs Swansea City
Date: Saturday 21st January
Time: 12:30 BST
With 21 games played so far, Liverpool have still only lost two Premier League fixtures this season, but their recent form is a little concerning with no league wins in the last two, and just four in their last eight.
Those four wins did come consecutively after disappointing performances against Bournemouth and West Ham, so Liverpool will be looking to return to the quality of football that saw them defeat Middlesbrough, Everton, Stoke City and Manchester City.
They weren’t able to do so in the last two, with tired legs drawing 2-2 at Sunderland on January 2nd, before a Reds side missing four usual starters put in a positive performance to draw 1-1 at Old Trafford last Sunday, only dropping points via a late Zlatan Ibrahimovic equaliser. Those draws saw Tottenham Hotspur leapfrog the Reds into second, but Saturday’s early kick-off gives Jürgen Klopp’s men a chance to put some pressure on their rivals.
Given that they’re bottom of the table, it’s not a surprise to hear that Swansea have lost six of their last seven, the only positive result being a 2-1 win away at fellow relegation battlers Crystal Palace a few weeks back.
However, they were unlucky to lose 4-0 at home to Arsenal last week with a couple of own goals, and new manager Paul Clement has had a further week to try and sort out their horrific defence, one that has conceded a league high 49 goals in 21 games. If Firmino, Coutinho and friends are on form, it could be a real thrashing. Victory for Swansea would lift them out of the relegation zone, on a temporary basis at least.
Having rested a whole host of players for the FA Cup replay at Plymouth Argyle on Wednesday, Klopp should be picking a near-full strength team for this one. Sadio Mane is still away at AFCON, whilst Joel Matip’s availability will likely be confirmed by FIFA on Friday, with the defender having missed both the United and Plymouth games whilst waiting to be cleared to play.
Philippe Coutinho could make his first league start after his ankle injury following cameos against Southampton and United lately, whilst Trent Alexander-Arnold will make another start if Nathaniel Clyne hasn’t recovered from his rib injury. Given the way the midfield played at Old Trafford, Klopp may pick the same three, leaving Lallana in the front three.
Tom Carroll could make his Swans debut after completing his move from Spurs earlier in the week, potentially in a midfield three as Clement looks to offer some more protection to his leaky defence. Wingers Luciano Narsingh and Jefferson Montero are struggling with calf and hamstring problems respectively, whilst Welsh full-back Neil Taylor has a fractured cheekbone keeping him sidelined.
Liverpool Predicted XI: Mignolet; Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner; Henderson, Can, Wijnaldum; Lallana, Firmino, Coutinho.
Swansea City Predicted XI: Fabianski; Kingsley, Mawson, Fernandez, Naughton; Cork, Ki, Carroll; Routledge, Sigurdsson, Llorente.
WHEN THEY LAST MET
Liverpool put in one of their poorest performances of the season in South Wales last time they played Swansea, but still emerged with a win.
Behind at half-time after Leroy Fer’s early goal, the Reds got their act together in the second 45 and equalised through a Firmino header. It was the Brazilian who also went on the win the penalty that decided the game, Milner slotting the ball down the middle from 12 yards for a final score of 2-1 to the visitors.
- Liverpool have won five of their last six games against Swansea.
- James Milner has scored penalties in his last three games vs the Swans.
- Swansea have conceded three or more goals in the league 11 times this season.
- Liverpool have scored three or more goals eight times in the league so far during this campaign.
PREDICTION: LIVERPOOL 3-0 SWANSEA CITY
In all honesty, if a nearly full-strength side doesn’t beat Swansea at home, there’s cause for concern. Especially with Coutinho back, Liverpool should sweep Clement’s men aside with relative ease. It’ll probably take a little while to break Swansea down, but once we do their heads will drop. Coutinho and Firmino both to be on the score sheet.