24 November 2012

Liverpool at Swansea 11.25.12

8:30am ET, live in the US on espn2

Last four head-to-head:
1-3 Swansea (h; League Cup) 10.31.12
0-1 Swansea (a) 05.13.12
0-0 (h) 11.05.11
8-0 Liverpool (home; FA Cup) 01.09.90

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 2-2 Young Boys (h); 3-0 Wigan (h); 1-1 Chelsea (a)
Swansea: 2-1 Newcastle (a); 1-1 Southampton (a); 1-1 Chelsea (h)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Suarez 10; Enrique, Gerrard, Şahin, Skrtel, Sterling 1
Swansea: Michu 7; Dyer 3; Hernandez, Routledge 2; de Guzman, Graham, Rangel 1

Referee: Jon Moss

Only his second season as a Select Group referee, Moss has never done a Liverpool match before.

Guess at a line-up:
Wisdom Skrtel Agger Johnson
Gerrard Allen
Sterling Suarez Enrique

Rodgers and Allen back at the Liberty Stadium. Rodgers and Allen back at the Liberty Stadium. Rodgers and Allen back at the Liberty Stadium. Rodgers and Allen back at the Liberty Stadium.

There. Now that we've got that out of the way, can we focus on what will be an incredibly important match for both sides sat next to each other in the table?

Agger, Allen, Enrique, Johnson, Gerrard, Suarez, Sterling will all come back into the side after not starting against Young Boys, although the latter three notably had to come off the bench. Which leaves two places up for grabs with Reina and Skrtel remaining as starters. It appears Wisdom will be available after his early substitution against Young Boys, which would allow Liverpool to continue with last week's successful Enrique in Attack experiment. If he's not, Enrique will probably move back into defense – neither Henderson nor Downing seem likely to play at full-back against Swansea while both Flanagan and Robinson played for the u21s yesterday – with Johnson at right-back, requiring one of Suso, Assaidi, Downing, or Cole to step in on the flank.

Then there are the routine questions over how Liverpool's midfield will line up. Away from Anfield, I assume Rodgers will return to the usual 2-1 set-up with Gerrard and Allen behind Şahin, Shelvey, or Suso. However, that could change based on how Rodgers thinks Swansea will line up. If Michu plays as the lone attacking midfielder rather than a false nine, with two from de Guzman, Ki, and Britton behind him, Rodgers may well replicate the tactics against Wigan, mirroring Swansea's midfield formation man for man and relying on Allen to mark Michu. Still, I expect that Rodgers will be more cautious, willing to change shape at halftime (or earlier) if need be.

The Swansea that Liverpool face tomorrow won't be much different than the side which beat Liverpool 3-1 in the League Cup. Rangel returns from suspension, Ben Davies will come back in at left-back, and Ki is suffering with a hamstring injury, although he appears odds on to play. Otherwise, the team that won at Anfield three weeks ago was a full-strength side.

The main issue is where Swansea's danger-man will play. Will Michu line up as a false nine or as an attacking midfielder? If Ki is fit, the former's more likely, as in the last meeting between these sides. If it's the latter, Israeli loanee Itay Shechter or Danny Graham will play as the main striker.

And as with Liverpool, there's the question of whether Laudrup will play 4-2-1-3 or 4-1-2-3, whether he uses two deeper midfielders – Ki, de Guzman, or Agustien paired with Britton – or two more-attacking midfielders in front of Britton. It'll be two from Dyer, Pablo, and Routledge on the flanks, most likely the first two.

Swansea have followed up the month-long swoon which prefaced the League Cup win over Liverpool by storming back into form, with draws against Chelsea and Southampton and an important win at Newcastle last weekend. They remain a point ahead of Liverpool, three points ahead of where they were after 12 games under Rodgers last season.

As I'm sure you're all aware, Liverpool have yet to beat Swansea since their promotion last season, losing twice and drawing once, failing to score in both league meetings last season. Swansea are unbeaten in its last four, Liverpool are unbeaten in its last seven league matches. But Liverpool haven't won back-to-back league matches in nearly a year, since beating QPR and Villa in mid-December 2011.

Consistency remains this side's biggest failing, although its not as if we're wanting for choices. Putting together a full 90-minute performance against Rodgers' old club would be a good start.

Shit, I mentioned Rodgers' Swansea history. Maybe it is unavoidable. At least until he creates a new history with Liverpool.

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