Confidence is high around Liverpool at the moment after Sunday’s incredible victory over Manchester City. It feels VERY nice to be able to say that we’re the only team to win a domestic match against the runaway leaders, and it’s added some belief to Liverpool’s season as they look to challenge for the FA Cup and the Champions League. Swansea have seen a bit of a mini-revival by their own standards, picking up 4 points from a possible 9, and advancing to the next round of the FA Cup, since Carlos Carvalhal replaced Paul Clement as boss.
The two sides only met last month with Liverpool demolishing the Swans 5-0, a game where Philippe Coutinho scored his last Liverpool goal. That was under a caretaker manager for Swansea so expect to see a different sort of game. Swansea will look to sit back and frustrate, meaning Liverpool’s defenders may not have too much to do, and it will see just how much of a loss Philippe Coutinho will be to this side.
A win against Swansea is vital in our bid to take 2nd place at the end of the season; Chelsea, United and Spurs are all away this weekend so points could be dropped so it’s a necessity that Liverpool leave South Wales with all three points, however ugly it turns out to be. There’s little that suggests Swansea will win here; they’ve picked up just one point against the ‘Big 6’ this season, scoring just once and letting in 18. In fact they’ve won just four times all season, with half of those coming at the Liberty Stadium. Liverpool, meanwhile, are 18 unbeaten and tend to perform a little better on the road. If they produce anything like they did on Boxing Day, then Swansea don’t really stand a chance.
Jurgen Klopp has confirmed that Loris Karius has replaced Simon Mignolet as Liverpool’s number 1, so he’ll start. Jordan Henderson returned to full training but is only likely to make the bench. Dejan Lovren, Ragnar Klavan and Mohamed Salah have struggled with illness, but the latter two should be okay. Virgil van Dijk is likely to return to the starting XI in place of Lovren. With the team having a week-long break, and with the FA Cup next Saturday, the lineup should be similar to the one that beat Manchester City.
Swansea will be boosted by the fact Mike van der Hoorn has suffered no lasting damage from the injury that forced him off against Newcastle. Renato Sanches (Hamstring) and Tammy Abraham (Hip) could also feature as they recover from minor injuries.
What The Managers Say
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp:
“We played against top-of-the-table Manchester City and played a fantastic game. We played Swansea a few weeks ago with a caretaker-manager and I said after the game it was much more difficult than the result could make you think.
“What you have seen since the new manager has come in is a big improvement again: much better results and they won their FA Cup replay during the week. They are doing well and that’s all we think about.
“If nobody told me how often we didn’t lose, I’d have no idea about it. That’s all the past and I’m not really interested. You can look back on a season after the season, not during.
“Swansea is for sure not an easy game; it’s a long trip, we fly to Cardiff, drive to Swansea, you don’t want to do that, and then we come back at night. So it’s not a friendly game, not for one second. It’s a really tough Premier League game.”
Swansea manager Carlos Carvalhal:
“So far we have played five games. Okay, two of them were in the cup, but we have two wins, two draws and one defeat which was not a normal defeat. If we carry on like this in the Premier League, we can achieve what we want to achieve.
“We must believe in our hearts that we can do something.
“I try to give the players that feeling and I have the sensation that they can capture the belief I am giving them. They are better than they have shown in the past, and they are starting to show that.”
Although this game will be nowhere near as easy as the 5-0 win on Boxing Day, Liverpool shouldn’t be too troubled. This Swansea team aren’t bottom for no reason and a formidable Liverpool side that is unbeaten in 18 should be able to get the job done. I doubt it’ll be the prettiest football, but I’m backing the Reds to do the job comfortably on this occasion. Swansea 0-3 Liverpool.