A defeat in our own backyard to a team previously beaten 4-0 in theirs, sits in the back of my throat with an acrid taste. No matter how we are performing in the league there are certain situations you cannot tolerate, and for me, this is one of many (Burnley and Sunderland the others). Although this may seem a harsh opening statement – which rightly it should be – this piece will definitely include the positives in what was a marvel for the neutrals.
By half time it was a stalemate. The first half consisted of Liverpool piling on pressure by executing their usual pressing, and Swansea compact to an admirable shape and playing defensively well. Liverpool’s style flows through their trigger man, Adam Lallana, and we flocked around Swansea’s ball players when Adam sets off like an athlete from the starting blocks. But the reds couldn’t break down the Swans resilience and only amassed a handful of half chances.
The second half however, was a completely different affair. Just like Mourinho changed on the 15th January, Paul Clement bypassed Liverpool’s superior pressing and ball control by going long and utilising the stature and strengths of Fernando Llorente, completely swinging the pendulum into the Welsh teams favour. I firstly have to praise Clement for his decision-making as I was a sceptic when his appointment was announced. Although he fits their style of play in the long run, they have to stay up, but then again, I don’t know much about the ins and outs of their underlying problems.
But by-passing our midfield is a worry for me. This is happening more and more and not only does it add tremendous pressure onto our flailing defence, but it removes our periods of controlling the game in the opposition half, which in turn can ultimately reduce our chances created, and this is what’s holding our team in the top 4. I have previously said that we wont win the league this year and top 4 is the minimum for our next step…so now I’m worried. Worried that our dip in form could turn out to be more than that, if the whole of the Premier League becomes tactically astute of how to simply beat us.
But what most annoyed me after the game is the negativity from some of our fans. It is easy to express opinions in the heat of the moment, but we have to look a tt he bigger picture, and although the torridness is circling, there is much more to be positive about. We have a world-class manager, and are currently in the top 4, both domestic cups, and with some changes we could have performed to a far better standard this game.
If Lovren or the returning Matip was assigned to the role of man marking Llorente, then the damage could have been far less… Or if we produced the same intensity from the second half in the first, then half chances may have turned into goals… Or the teams concentration levels rejuvenated at a quicker pace allowing more accurate passing. Especially from our captain Henderson (who doesn’t look like he should be back playing), then most probably we would have dealt with the situation better.
I still cannot come away from the fact that Clyne needs a challenging backup, and Klavan needs to be used as a bit part, both of whom were at fault in the lead up to the goals. But more importantly for now, Clyne (and Henderson) should not have been brought back so soon after their injuries. It has happened a lot over the years for us, and this isn’t good enough. Do we lack the squad depth? Probably. But what is the point in having backups if there not good enough to play. We need quality and not to fill gaps like we have with Manninger.
I understand the difficulties in signing players in January and I believe that teams should only sign players at the right price. My initial thought this winter is where can we improve at the back? So I looked into a different option and focused on the back room staff. Klopp has brought in vital members to help with his vision and how to elongate our levels to perform at the highest levels through the whole season. Positions including a fitness coach (Andreas Kornmayer) and nutritionist (Mona Nemmer), but I look and find no defensive experience. Zeljko ‘The Brain’ Buvac was an attacking midfielder and Krawietz did not play at a high level and is known as ‘The Eye’. I truly believe that maybe the best signing we could make this winter, would be a specialist defensive coach. This would help stiffen up at the back, and furthermore help the trio adapt to not only think about how only attack helps defence.