Brendan Rodgers returned to face his old side Swansea at the Liberty Stadium but saw his Liverpool side frustrated with the match ending goalless. Jose Enrique had a goal ruled out for offside and Raheem Sterling hit the bar as the Reds were forced to leave Wales with just a point for their efforts.
The result extended Liverpool’s unbeaten run in the league to 8 games, but with just 3 of those games resulting in victories, Rodgers will be hoping that his side can discard their customary profligacy that has resulted in points dropped despite otherwise good performances.
Rodgers was given a mixed reception against his old club, with some jeers audible amongst applause, whilst the pre-match controversy between Swans skipper Ashley Williams and Luis Suarez, concerning the comments about the latter by Williams explaining why he’d like to ‘knock him out’, was seemingly forgotten as the opposing duo smiled and shook hands.
The away side had to withstand some early Swansea pressure. Jose Reina had to be alert to push Wayne Routledge’s shot behind before Pablo Hernandez curled wide.
Liverpool had the better of the first half chances however. Sterling crashed a fierce volley into the crossbar after a corner was only half cleared, before Gerhard Tremmel denied Glen Johnson after the latter was sent through on goal.
The Reds thought they had grabbed the opener but Enrique was marginally offside when he turned in a Suarez cross.
The second half was similar to the first as both sides tried to penetrate the opposition rearguard. Williams come close to a breakthrough, the defender seeing his header from a corner cleared off the line by former teammate Joe Allen. Suarez was thwarted by Tremmel, before Reina rescued Stewart Downing after he was robbed by Nathan Dyer, with the keeper requiring treatment after making a brave challenge to deny the Swansea winger.
Hernandez drew a fine save from Reina with a free kick, but Liverpool ended the game the stronger. A swift counter saw Sterling and Suarez advance 2 against 1 but the former’s pass was poor, before sub Jonjo Shelvey tested Tremmel from range. The Reds continued to search for a late winner, but their efforts were ultimately in vain.
This was Brendan Rodgers first return to the Liberty Stadium since leaving Swansea for Liverpool in the summer. Liverpool lost 1-0 in this fixture at the end of last season in what turned out to be Kenny Dalglish’s last match in charge of Liverpool and Brendan Rodger’s last match in charge of Swansea. Liverpool were hoping to gain some sort of revenge after losing to Swansea in the Capital One Cup a few weeks ago.
The big surprise in Brendan Rodgers team selection was Stewart Downing at left back with Enrique playing in front of him in left midfield. Glen Johnson switched to his more familiar role of right back. Reina kept goal with Skrtel and Agger in centre of defence. Sterling started on the right of midfield with Gerrard, Joe Allen returning to his old stomping ground for the first time since leaving Swansea and a rare start for Jordan Henderson in midfield. Suarez played as the lone striker.
Swansea started the match with a lot of possession but Glen Johnson should have given the visitors the lead from Gerrard’s corner, when he headed over.
Routledge forced Reina into a sharp save after turning on the edge of the box but most of the play was being played in the Swansea half. Suarez strayed offside when put through by Enrique, before the Spaniard steered narrowly wide from Sterling’s superb low cross.
Johnson was then thwarted by Tremmel after being played through by Enrique. Swansea continued to look dangerous on the counter-attack, one such attack resulted in Hernandez curling a shot very close to the far post.
Liverpool went up the other end but failed to convert a trio of clear-cut chances. Rangel’s brave block denied Suarez. Then, Sterling smacked the Swansea bar with a thunderous volley, before Enrique had the ball in the net from Suarez’s delicate pass, but the assistant referee ruled the effort offside.
The second half continued the same as the first half with Liverpool looking the likelier side to score. Tremmel had to be alert to beat away an angled drive from Suarez. Michu had a header saved by Reina after Hernandez got behind Johnson, then Allen cleared a Williams header off the line denying his former team as Swansea hemmed Liverpool back in a good spell of pressure.
Substitute Dyer robbed Downing of possession before racing through on goal but he was thwarted by some brave goalkeeping by Reina in a nasty looking collision that left the Liverpool goalkeeper needing treatment.
Swansea had an appeal for a penalty turned down when Agger grappled with Michu. But Liverpool missed a great chance to take the lead with 8 minutes remaining when Suarez and Sterling broke clear from a Swansea corner, but the youngster’s pass sent Suarez wide of goal and the Uruguayan’s shot was saved by Tremmel.
Reina produced a finger tipped save from a tremendous Hernandez effort with 3 minutes to go, and Shelvey was denied from long range by Tremmel as both teams had to settle for a point.
A strange decision by Rodgers to play Downing at left back and I don’t think it worked. Downing was caught too many times and I hope Rodgers realises that he will never be a left back. Enrique once again thrived in his new attacking role and was unlucky not to score as once again Liverpool were found rueing another official’s decision going against them. Suarez was his usual lively self, but lacked support. Glen Johnson was very impressive and was a threat going forward. Sterling had another good game and was very unlucky when hitting the bar. Pepe Reina looked back to his best with some fine saves. Disappointed the way Liverpool didn’t kick on after their good first half performance, as they didn’t create much in the way of chances in the second half. But another clean sheet and extends Liverpool’s unbeaten run to 8 matches at a very difficult place to go.
Disappointment is a feeling that every Liverpool fan feels at one time or another. But surely, no one lives in the world of hurt that I do. As a fan I take everything to heart; from losing the title in 2008-09, to losing a throw-in against Everton in the Derby a few weeks ago.
Being born in 1991, I missed out on watching Liverpool winning the league. In fact, since the year of my birth Liverpool have not won the league. In the words of Rafael Benitez, “I’m not playing mind games, I’m just talking about facts”.
Still, something has changed about watching Liverpool recently. Although we sit in a poor position, smack bang in the middle of the league table, I can’t help but feel excited about the future.
Brendan Rodgers is the key to Liverpool F.C’s future success. His footballing ideology is one that has been the key ingredient to all successful football teams. Efficiency. Chelsea won the Champions league on it last year, the Germans are the masters of it and Barcelona eat and breath it.
It is no coincidence that Rodgers ran a tight ship at Swansea. It was no coincidence that Joe Allen and Leon Britton were among the top passers of Europe last season. They were part and parcel of the design that Rodgers put in place at the Liberty Stadium.
Brendan has also been keen to give the youngsters a chance. This has worked wonders so far for Liverpool. Can anyone imagine the position Liverpool would be in without Suso, Sterling and Wisdom? It would more than certainly be lower down the league table.
His prioritisation of the Premier League has been refreshing. For too long we have had managers that find cup competitions as important as the league. For some teams, like Wigan or Stoke, cup competitions are a way of gaining European status (Europa League qualification) which is an excellent way for them to sign better players. For Liverpool, it is a hindrance. We can already sign players at that level through reputation, so focusing on gaining Champions League qualification is paramount to revenue and a better class of player.
Brendan Rodgers is in charge of steering a rocking ship to safety and he is doing it in the correct way. He IS the man for the job.
Chelsea have once again departed company with another manager and the backlash from the Chelsea faithful is once again one of despair and anger.
The sacking of Di Matteo was greeted with disappointment from a large section of the Blues supporters, many feel Di Matteo had done a fantastic job since taking over, but it was the circumstances which sparked the departure that many fans see as unwarranted and disrespectful to the work the former manager had put into the club.
Di Matteo had delivered Abramovich what all former managers didn’t the Champions League title, the one trophy which had eluded Abramovich for so long.
There is much evidence to show that Di Matteo should have been given far more time his record deserved, but that is not in the mindset of Abramovich or his somewhat ruthless and slightly deluded pursuit of total football domination.
What Abramovich constantly fails to see or understand is that managerial stability is the long term key to greater success rather than short term instant rewards, this is one of the reasons why Manchester United have dominated the Premier League, although this approach has worked for Abramovich in the past, over time it simply will not deliver on his personal ambitions for the club, hence why so many mangers have departed through the door of the bridge.
But what crime has Abramovich really committed here? Well to be honest absolutely none, Abramovich is the owner and he alone decides who is in charge and he alone hires and fires the managerial team. Many may not agree with his decisions or by how he enforces them but it is Abramovich’s call and he will do what he feels will make Chelsea a global force, even if it is perfectly clear to everyone else that this will never happen.
Chelsea simply are not in the same global commercial planet as Liverpool or Manchester United and frankly never will be, Chelsea are sixth in the commercial market according to NASDAQ behind Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal, Celtic and Aston Villa, but this does not stop Abramovich from pursuing this unachievable goal, and the more intensity he throws into this fantasy dream the more managers will be walking out the door of Chelsea. The fact is Chelsea are not as marketable or as worldwide supported as Liverpool or United you only have to look at worldwide supporters polls to see a large gap between LFC, MUFC and Chelsea. Until Abramovich understands this simple but truthful concept the Chelsea fans will have a list of managers that will resemble Jimmy Savile’s abuse list.
It is however ironic that Rafa Benitez has been appointed to succeed Di Matteo, the same Benitez who stopped the special one twice reaching the Champions League final and has never been a fan of Chelsea since 2005, and the feelings are mutual with the Chelsea supporters.
But as Chelsea fans seem dejected by the appointment of Benitez, many see this as once again only a temporary appointment, and a new change is on the cards for the summer, which is totally unacceptable for a club who wants to be a consistent force in the Premier League and Europe.
Let us not forget that we had those pair of conmen Hicks & Gillette who almost destroyed the club with their incompetence and mismanagement so to be honest if we had a owner like Abramovich who won us league titles and kept us in the champions league would we really be complaining that we have a new manager every 18 months? To be honest I think not.
One thing that Abramovich does is spend money and as a fan you cannot complain at all about an owner who invests into the club. But on the reverse side of that is the moral side, does our game have to be run by cynical money obsessed tyrants to be successful? How can you deliver what is required of you as a manager and still be replaced? Ask Di Matteo, Rafa Benitez and to some extent Kenny Dalglish. All delivered trophies but it still wasn’t good enough, only to be replaced and the cycle starts over again.
Abramovich must rethink his managerial strategy or he risks sending Chelsea on a path to nowhere, the trouble with his style of ownership is that he is morally insane but legally he is absolutely right to sack as many managers he wishes, even if they are successful and could have made Chelsea the next Manchester United.
Which makes any manager think more than twice when taking the most ridiculous job ever.
Comedian and Impressionist Darren Farley joins the lads in the studio as they look ahead to Sunday’s clash between Swansea City and Liverpool at the Liberty Stadium…
– Have The Reds Progressed Since The League Cup Defeat?
– FORM GUIDE: Swansea
– Dangerman Focus: Michu
– The Cost Of Goals, A Look at the Top Scorers This Season
– Lineup Predictions
– 96 Tattoos of “96” at Royal Ink, Breck Road, Liverpool. Get Involved
– Score Predictions