Match Preview: Swansea City vs Liverpool

It’s that time again, Reds, Liverpool are back in action. This time it’s down to the south-west of Wales we go as we travel to play relegation threatened Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium. The Swans we’re handed a 5-0 battering at the hands of Liverpool last month, but history says that this game won’t be that simple. Jurgen Klopp will be eager to build further on the momentum established after the mammoth victory over Manchester City last weekend left the Reds on top of the world. Here’s The Anfield Talk’s Anthony (@AnthonyMarkMcav) with your match preview. Match-day 24? INTO THESE. 

DATE: JANUARY 22ND 2018

WHERE: THE LIBERTY STADIUM

WHO: SWANSEA CITY VS LIVERPOOL

TIME: 20:00PM (GMT)

REFEREE: NEIL SWARBRICK

Team News

Liverpool 

Despite the club determined not to sack him, Jon Flanagan will be no where near the team on Monday. I don’t know why so many people are absolutely irate at the fact that he hasn’t been sacked. I agree that what he did was absolutely despicable, but the club are trying to A) Save money from severances and B) Set a precedent just in case something happened with someone more high profile.

We have players returning from injury, with the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Jordan Henderson and Alberto Moreno all back in contention to start for the Reds. However it may be too early for the captain to return to the side.

Mo Salah and Ragnar Klavan have had bouts of illness in the week but I expect them both to be able to take to the pitch come Monday.

Clyne is still out and let’s not even mention that ginger goalkeeper.

Swansea City

Kyle Naughton will be back from a suspension and will walk straight back into the Swansea side as Angel Rangel remains injured. Tammy Abraham and Renato Sanches are both doubts for the Liverpool tie, as is Mike Van Der Hoorn.

Leon Britton played for Swansea in the FA Cup in midweek but I doubt we see him here.

Predicted XI 

It’s time for Jurgen Klopp to truly make Liverpool fans believers. We’ve beaten the unbeatable, now it’s time to reinforce that with a solid line-up here that will give the Reds the best possible chance of winning the game and pushing even closer 2nd in the league.

I’d say that Andy Robertson retains his left-back berth over Alberto Moreno. Every night that the young Scot takes to the field, he is absolutely tremendous, and with two monster performances in a row against Everton and Man City, he should be rewarded with a continued place in the team.

Loris Karius will be in net after being handed the number one place by Jurgen Klopp. I don’t mind this decision as long as it either results in Karius being boss or him getting the hook. No more mediocrity in goal please, Liverpool.

I’d love to have a Gomez/Van Dijk centre-half partnership but I think that with the Dutchman returning to the side, it’s probably going to be him and Matip that will be Liverpool’s defensive duo. I even see Gomez being dropped to the bench for Trent Alexander-Arnold too, Trent will be much more effective against the sitting back that Swansea will undoubtedly do.

Emre Can will be in the starting lineup here once more despite walking the wire between Liverpool and a contract at Juventus. There has been so many rumours flying around regarding him, I just hope it doesn’t come to him joining the Turin giants after being released in the summer.

Accompanying the German will probably be an unchanged midfield of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gini Wijnaldum, after both of them put in stellar performances against City.

After the loss of Philippe Coutinho the Liverpool front line completely picks itself, and it goes a little something like this:

Liverpool: Loris Karius, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson; Emre Can, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gini Wijnaldum; Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino

Swansea: Lukasz Fabianski, Martin Olsson, Alfie Mawson, Federico Fernandez, Kyle Naughton; Tom Carrol, Sam Clucas, Ki Sung-yeung, Nathan Dyer; Wilfred Bony, Jordan Ayew

Form

Liverpool come into this one on the back of four consecutive Premier League wins, with the Swans’ contrasting form being two losses, two draws and victory in their last five. That form sees Swansea sit bottom of the Premier League table, struggling for any kind of consistency at all this season. There’s a 30 point difference between the two sides and it’ll still be a tough test for the Reds.

The Key Battle: Emre Can vs Sam Clucas

Despite all the trouble he has caused the club, Emre Can still remains an absolutely integral part of the Liverpool set-up. Sam Clucas is a true underdog in this one with Emre’s pedigree being more and more obvious as the season goes on, and it will be tough for the Swansea man to get a foot-hold in the game if Emre is even slightly on his.

Emre has also given us hope that he may sign a new deal with us too, but if he doesn’t, good performances will help cover up some of the cracks in his relationship with the fans.

What Klopp Said:

“What you’ve seen since the [new] manager is in is a big improvement,” he told reporters.

 “They’re doing well, that’s all we think about. I’m not even sure if we can look at our game against Swansea [as reference].

“We don’t think about the 5-0, we don’t think about [beating] Man City [on Sunday], we just think about what we have to do.

“Monday night, still a few days to go, hopefully we can make a choice of the lineup from a full squad and use the basis of this season so far.”

Prediction

There are no second chances at this point. Players in the team need to perform or they will be dropped. We’ve seen Klopp’s ruthlessness in the past and I don’t think that he’s going to let anyone dream their way through any games for the Reds. Despite this, Liverpool have to unsettle the stigma of not being able to defeat these teams that sit back and defend to win. It’s perceived to be who we are after years of not being able to consistently turn up against every team in the league and it could be the difference between us finishing fourth or challenging for the title next term. Here I think the Reds will narrowly avoid embarrassment and get away with a 2-1 win. Karius will make a mistake, especially if Swansea attack and get some shots off.

Three points nonetheless.

YNWA.

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