By Arun Nair – (@Nair_39)
Liverpool dispelled some of the disappointment of a dismal week by ending it with a 5 goal rout of a second-string Swansea side. A Steven Gerrard penalty put the Reds ahead prior to half time, before further goals from Philippe Coutinho, Jose Enrique, Luis Suarez and another spot kick, this time from Daniel Sturridge, added weight to the scoreline after a dominant display.
Brendan Rodgers made several changes from the side which fell to defeat in Russia, not least the return of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho, both cup-tied for the Europa League, and the hosts would have been further buoyed by the Swansea teamsheet, with 7 changes including the absence of top scorer Michu.
The absence of the away side’s star players played into Brendan Rodgers’ hands, with Liverpool’s aggression and high pressing preventing the makeshift Swans from settling into either the game, or their preferred passing style, once nurtured by Rodgers himself.
Suarez tested Vorm early on, and despite the pacey Pablo Hernandez and Roland Lamah providing outlets for potential Swans counter attacks, the home side retained an authoritative grip on the game, probing for the breakthrough.
The returning Sturridge went close, heading over from Stewart Downing’s cross, before his driven run across Michel Vorm’s area drew an intervention from Garry Monk, with Coutinho only able to turn the loose ball wide with the Kop goal gaping.
For all Liverpool’s possession however, the crucial first goal hadn’t arrived, but with Anfield becoming restless, Kemy Agustien sent Suarez over in the box, and Gerrard, after having his penalty on Monday against West Brom saved, ensured there was no repeat by holding his nerve to slot into the bottom corner past Vorm’s despairing dive.
Swansea survived with no further damage suffered to the scoreline before half time, but it took just sixteen seconds for the Reds to score again after the break, this time Suarez setting up Coutinho to surge past two defenders before beating Vorm to record his first goal for Liverpool on his full debut.
The Brazilian almost struck again, firing Suarez’ cross just wide, before a mesmerising exchange between Suarez, Sturridge and Enrique culminated with the Spaniard powering into the roof of the net.
The Swansea defence looked thoroughly beaten by this point and it was with ease that Suarez drifted inside Kyle Bartley and Monk before curling past a helpless Vorm to add a fourth for the Reds, and his 23rd goal of the season.
Wayne Routledge arrived in place of Lamah with the intention of providing fresh legs to the Swans’ ailing attack, but unfortunately the winger’s first intervention came via his arm, handing Liverpool another penalty. Gerrard allowed Sturridge the opportunity to score from the spot and the striker made no mistake, adding his fifth goal in seven games since his January move from Chelsea.
The home side saw the game out, with Pepe Reina untroubled apart from a flying save from Routledge’s curled attempt to make amends for his earlier mistake at the opposite end, although substititute Fabio Borini’s injury provided a sour note.
The Reds climb to seventh with the victory over Rodgers’ former employers, simultaneously moving above them in the table. The Reds manager will hope that this result can provide the catalyst for a similar performance against Zenit St. Petersberg, as Liverpool look to overturn a two goal deficit, and sustain their season.