A completely impotent, inept second half erases almost all memory of a quasi-competent first half, where Liverpool played well but – surprise, surprise – failed to score despite a handful of close calls.
Liverpool are now unbeaten in eight league matches. Liverpool kept consecutive clean sheets in the league, just the fourth clean sheet of the league campaign. It's a better result than in this fixture last season, where Liverpool tepidly lost 1-0 to a late Danny Graham goal in the last match of the depressing campaign. But somehow, this doesn't feel like cause for celebration.
Maybe it's because Liverpool also haven't scored in three league matches against Swansea. Swansea hadn't kept a clean sheet since August 25. Liverpool still haven't scored after the 73rd minute in the league, still haven't won a league match via a late goal since Carroll's 90th minute header at Blackburn last April. Liverpool haven't won back-to-back league matches since beating QPR and Villa nearly a year ago, and Liverpool haven't won following a Europa League match yet this season. There were positives, but the negatives loom larger.
Swansea started much brighter, highlighted by Routledge's fierce shot in the 12th, well parried by Pepe Reina. But Liverpool eventually woke up, the more dangerous side from the 15th minute despite Swansea's continued advantage in possession. The rampaging Glen Johnson nearly set up Enrique in the 17th, a menacing low cross chested wide by the now-winger. The same two players combined seven minutes later, when Enrique's throughball put Johnson on goal, his shot smartly saved by Tremmel. Rangel crucially blocked Suarez's close-range shot, Sterling cannoned an effort off the crossbar following a corner, and Enrique had a goal rightfully, narrowly ruled out for offside after Johnson's back heel in the box allowed Suarez the space to chip a cross.
Unsurprisingly, Liverpool immensely regret their inability to score when on top, but, for once, weren't wholly punished for it. Today's biggest positive was Liverpool's defense, with Agger and Skrtel excellent – marking Michu into near-oblivion and dominating Shechter so thoroughly that he was removed for Ki at halftime. Reina was also ready for action when called upon, evidently benefiting from his injury layoff, while Allen was steady if unspectacular, committing a handful of fouls in dangerous areas but making up for it with four crucial interceptions. Henderson's work rate also helped cover for Gerrard's disappointing performance, at least everything but chances created.
And that defense was the only positive in the second half, until an eventual final flurry in injury time. Liverpool had increased possession, but gone was the attacking threat, as Swansea created almost all the serious chances until added time. Liverpool had double the shots on target in the second half, but most were easy saves for Tremmel. Swansea's best chances came from set plays, mainly because of Reina's goalkeeping and Skrtel and Agger's marking, but they still felt the far more threatening side.
After sticking with the same system which won last week's game against Wigan, Rodgers finally changed track in the 77th, bringing on Cole for Downing and Shelvey for Henderson. The substitutions did nothing to change the game, as Liverpool's lone chance until added time came when breaking from a corner: Sterling and Suarez against a lone Swansea defender, spoiled by Sterling's poor pass to Suarez, ending with a tame shot at Tremmel after the Uruguayan tried to check back into space after defenders recovered.
With time running out, after Liverpool had apparently decided to settle for the draw, the aforementioned flurry finally came. But Gerrard shot narrowly wide from outside the box with Shelvey inches away from redirecting, Tremmel parried Shelvey's long-range rocket, and Williams did just enough to unsettle Agger on Cole's deep cross, with the Dane unable to knock down a header for the on-rushing Gerrard. At least it ended with a bang, not a whimper, but the bang truly should have come sooner.
Again, unbeaten in eight is a positive. Liverpool's defense was definitely a positive. On the whole, these were two evenly matched, similar sides, demonstrated by the near-equal possession and passing totals. But, once again, we're talking about Liverpool's inability to put the damn ball in the damn goal. If not Suarez than no one, and after the pre-match Williams v Suarez hype, Swansea's center-backs did well against Liverpool's talisman.
Sadly, it looks like we'll be talking about this inability to score until January, as both fans and, seemingly, the players wait in the hopes that reinforcements will arrive.