Liverpool’s 18-match unbeaten run comes to a shuddering halt against relegation-threatened Swansea City…
A little over a week on from their stunning victory over Premier League table-toppers Manchester City, an off-colour Liverpool were defeated 1-0 by bottom club Swansea City on Monday night.
The Merseysiders arrived at the Liberty Stadium with few predicting anything other than an easy away win but they struggled to find their usual tempo and incisiveness throughout a disappointing showing.
A cagey opening 15 minutes contained little in the way of goalmouth action, with only a long ball over the top to Sadio Mané momentarily threatening an effort at goal.
The visitors soon began to boss proceedings as the hosts, despite looking far more competitive than in the 5-0 defeat at Anfield on Boxing Day, struggled to deal with a couple of crosses from wide areas.
At the other end, in a rare foray forward, Swansea had the ball in the net via Jordan Ayew in the 18th minute but it had already gone out of play as the Ghanaian forward got the better of Joe Gomez down the Liverpool right.
Virgil van Dijk, making his Premier League debut for Liverpool, was involved in the two best moments of the opening half hour; heading a corner narrowly wide and then chipping a delightful pass through to Mohamed Salah, who volleyed wildly over.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain tested Łukasz Fabiański as half-time approached but it was the Swans who surprisingly went into the break in front when Alfie Mawson swept home after a poorly-defended corner had ricocheted kindly to him.
It might not have been the case though had Mané not miscued at the end of a fantastic counter-attack as the very last action of the half finally showed a glimpse of Liverpool at their full-tilt best.
The visitors, presumably with a flea in their ear from manager Jürgen Klopp during the interval, looked lively at the start of the second half as Salah curled wide on his weaker foot and Kyle Naughton made a timely intervention to deny Andrew Robertson an almost certain goal.
Fabiański was finally forced to make a telling contribution on the hour mark when tipping over a Salah free-kick and the former Arsenal man also made some telling claims and clearances under pressure as the half progressed.
Can and Matip both fired over from distance as Klopp’s side looked increasingly devoid of creativity in the final third against the top-flight’s bottom side.
Adam Lallana and Danny Ings were introduced from the bench, while Mané and Salah swapped flanks, but the Premier League’s top scorers away from home still couldn’t find a way to penetrate Swansea’s well-organised rearguard.
Ings went close with a low drive on the turn but Liverpool’s efforts remained predominantly speculative in nature as both Can and Salah lacked composure when well placed.
Roberto Firmino should have rescued a point in stoppage time but the Brazilian could only head the best opportunity of the night against a post.
Analysing the encounter at his post-match press conference, a frustrated Klopp conceded: “We were just not good enough tonight, especially in the first half.
“We did not play how we wanted to play, we didn’t keep the positions, we didn’t stretch the formation. We didn’t keep the right positions we wanted to do to cause them more problems – and then we gave them the opportunity to score, the second ball after a set-piece…
“That was then exactly what Swansea wanted tonight – it was not Swansea’s job tonight to play fantastic football, they needed to fight and we actually wanted to fight as well but we had the ball much more often and we needed to have a plan for it…
“We had chances. We had Mo Salah alone in front of the goal. I didn’t expect tonight that we [would not] play our best football, but you have to do the right things in the right moment to deserve to win a game like this.
“How I felt, we didn’t deserve it – we could have scored the goal in the last seconds; it was a good situation and unlucky for us, but if we get the point it doesn’t make the game a percentage better.”
Defeat sees Liverpool drop to fourth in the standings, below Chelsea and just two points ahead of Tottenham Hotspur.
Next up for the Reds is an FA Cup tie with West Bromwich Albion at Anfield on Saturday night.
So that’s what both us and Klopp thought about the game, how about you? Let us know your views below…
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