Liverpool thumped Swansea 4-1 at Anfield last night in a performance that the team has threatened for a while now.
Goals from Alberto Moreno, an own goal from Anfield old boy Jonjo Shelvey and two from Man of The Match Adam Lallana completed the romp. A Gylfi Sigurdsson effort that pulled one back for the Swans was the only blot on an otherwise spotless performance from Liverpool.
Brendan Rodgers kept faith (finally) with Emre Can on the right side of the back three with Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho completing the trio. Lucas Leiva slotted in alongside Jordan Henderson and between wingbacks Moreno and Javi Manquillo. Lallana, Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling leading the attack.
Liverpool started the match brightly in a manner reminiscent of last season, pressing aggressively and moving the ball quickly. I don’t know what Rodgers has been giving these boys for lunch recently but it certainly seems to be working. In credit to the boss, he now seems to have a settled formation and starting eleven. Steven Gerrard was “rested” which for me means that the penny has finally dropped for the Liverpool boss and the 34 year-old captain along with it. What a difference it made.
Lucas is demonstrating why he should be kept on Merseyside this January and it’s about time Rodgers took a more if it ain’t broke don’t fix it approach. The Brazilian shielded the back three excellently and with Can now installed among the trio the defence seems more assured and confident. Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet on the other hand still has a lot to prove and a replacement should remain a priority.
Liverpool took the lead through Moreno on 33 minutes as a cagey first half drew to a close. Good work from Henderson, who excelled in returning to his central role, swung in what must be the cross of the season for the 22 year old Spanish international to tap home past the bewildered Lukasz Fabianski.
The second half saw Liverpool build on the confidence gained from the goal and on 51 minutes Lallana extended Liverpool’s advantage in bizarre fashion. Good pressing from Sterling forced a back pass to Fabianski and as Lallana closed down the visitors’ ‘keeper the clearance rebounded off the ex-Southampton forward’s chin and looped into the unguarded net. 2-0. Unfortunately Liverpool didn’t keep the lead for long as Sigurdsson stabbed home a close range finish to give Swansea hope.
Liverpool regained composure and continued their aggressive pressing approach and 10 minutes later Lallana put the Reds back in the driving seat with a finish of supreme quality. A clever run across goal from Raheem Sterling dragged two Swansea defenders with him allowing the number 20 to attack the space and drill a low hard finish to Fabianski’s left. 3-1.
The shoreline was completed on 69 minutes when Shelvey, who was belligerent throughout and lucky to stay on the pitch after elbowing Can in the first half, headed into his own goal after being caught on camera “joking” with Lallana. The last laugh was indeed, on him. 4-1.
Liverpool thoroughly deserved this win and the performance vindicated Rodgers’ selection. At long last he has finally had the courage to drop the non-performers and the aged in order that the strongest may prevail. Dejan Lovren and sadly Gerrard have been at the root of many a lethargic display from the side this season and this approach has probably saved his bacon for now.
The work is not done but the team is now moving in the right direction. Can and Sakho two players The LFC File have been crying out for to be given a run in the side, along with Lallana and Lucas are now showing what a positive contribution they can make.
For me, Rodgers is not out of the woods yet. He has a couple of difficult conversations to have with some of his players. Notably Gerrard who is probably now at the end of the road on his Liverpool journey. He has a part to play but you can add “bit” to that. It’s time to move on.
The team next welcome Leicester to Anfield on New Years Day and nothing less that three points will do to maintain this current momentum. Liverpool now occupy eighth place. One win away from sixth or seventh spot. The team is unbeaten in four having lost once in their last 10 games.
The team needs to continue to build on this and maybe, just maybe the red juggernaut is turning. “Liverpool…” As the controller says in the film Top Gun “You have the ball…!”
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