An awful defensive display helps relegation-threatened Swansea secure an unlikely three points at Anfield…
Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off against bottom side Swansea City was supposed to be the perfect opportunity for Liverpool to return to winning ways and reignite their Premier League title challenge after two consecutive draws.
However, the club’s recent malaise, which included stuttering past League Two side Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup at the second time of asking in midweek, plummeted new depths as the Swans recorded their first ever league victory at Anfield.
By doing so, the Welsh side ended Liverpool’s 25-game unbeaten home run, won back-to-back away league games in the same season for the first time since May 2015 and hauled themselves out of the relegation zone.
The impact was also felt at the other end of the table with results elsewhere over the weekend meaning the Reds dropped to fourth in the standings and now trail leaders Chelsea by 10 points.
An uneventful and uninspiring first 45 minutes gave no indication of what was to follow on a bitterly cold afternoon in L4 as Swansea twice punished a lackadaisical home backline at the start of the second half through Fernando Llorente.
Liverpool appeared to have averted the crisis when two goals from Roberto Firmino, the second of which was a sublime effort, dragged them back on level terms with 20 minutes to go.
At that stage they looked like the only team who would find a winner but five minutes later and a catalogue of errors gifted Gylfi Sigurðsson the opportunity to put the visitors back in front, and he duly obliged.
As they had been for practically the whole game, the men in red camped themselves in Swansea’s half for the remainder of the contest but no further salvation would be forthcoming.
Trying to make sense of what he’d seen at his post-match press conference, Kop boss Jürgen Klopp said: “In the first half, only we played, they defended. It’s not that you can create in each second a chance, but we had these four or five really good moments when we did really well…
“We couldn’t score and came out of half-time and then obviously you need to be spot on immediately and in the first minutes one of the decisive [moments] was that they even got the corner. It was a throw-in and we were too late, then not concentrated in the situation, flick-on and corner.
“We lost the first challenge after the corner and, until now, I couldn’t see how Llorente – who was the goalscorer – could be completely alone in the six-yard box and score the goal. Obviously it had an influence on us and them.
“Then they had their second chance in the game, we couldn’t avoid the cross, ball in the air – brilliant cross, brilliant header. That, I can easily accept. If something happens like this, I don’t speak about the mistakes around the header. But we should have avoided the pass and then the cross. That should be possible.
“The reaction was then very good; 2-1, wonderful goal, 2-2, wonderful goal, big chances, chance after chance. Then we had the punch that we missed a little bit in the first half, not only when we scored the goals, also when we created the chances.
“Then the most disappointing moment, the third goal, nearly everything was wrong around this goal. I think it started with a long ball – that was not a real surprise, they played a few of these. The reaction on the long ball was not good. We were passive…
“I don’t look for where is lucky and unlucky; it was obvious we had not that much luck today, maybe they had a little bit more, especially in defending. [There were] two or three situations where it was already done nearly and we could have scored again. We showed again that when we are really on track then we are a strong side and can create chances and score goals.
“That’s natural, if you want, and will happen. But the defending around all three goals was not good enough, 100 per cent. That’s a very important part of the game. It’s very disappointing today.”
This was the first of four consecutive home fixtures for Klopp’s men with Southampton the next visitors in the EFL Cup on Wednesday night.
That match is the second leg of a semi-final in which last season’s beaten finalists need to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg if they are to book a return to Wembley.
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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