As everbody knew going to the Liberty stadium was not going to be a formality and it was far from it in the end. Having been totally dominated in the first half it came as a surprise the teams went into the changing rooms with the scores level. On a number of occassions Mignolet made some outsatnding saves to thwart the Swansea attack. Going into half time with either side yet registering on the scoreboard Gary Monk will have been the happiest of the two managers. Brendan Rodgers will have had a lot to say to get his team up and ready for the second half where they couldn’t play much worse.
As you would expect Liverpool were better in the second half where Joe Allen was particularly impressive with his tackling and moving of the ball. Liverpool were always going to have some form of pressure at one point and after a clever flick from sturridge for Henderson to run onto we were presented with it. The Swansea defender beat Henderson to the ball but, the path the defender decided to take clearing the ball was in line with Henderson. This lead to a deflection that looped the goalkeeper leaving him stranded and Liverpool one goal to the good. Taking the lead afforded Liverpool the opportunity to sit back and counter with devastating affect. Daniel Sturridge struck the post late on to give the Swans a late shock.
Liverpool showed their resilience all game pressing the ball, tackling players and holding out for a result that perhaps on the balance should have been a draw. This reilience was not a part of the side that came second last year with the idea that if you score one we’ll score two. The distinct change in identity has meant that Liverpool are more defensively independent and are able to cope with an onslaught and come away with 3 points. With Manchester United on Sunday the Reds will be feeling a lot better about the game in Anfield where they can move one point clear of their rivals with a win.
Having received the sad news that Steven Gerrard will be ending his 17 year journey with Liverpool this year brought about a lot of thoughts and feelings about clubs security and how they move on without; such an iconic character that is very much part of the makeup at Anfield. The months surrounding his announcement has made a lot of fans questions who will the new Mr Liverpool and will he be a current player or a superstar bought in to create a buzz around the place during a solemn period. It would seem vice captain has been bestowed the job to succeed Stevie and carry the team on to bigger and greater things.
Some people including myself have at times wondered why Brendan has chosen Jordan as an ideal character and having paid more attention of late I couldn’t agree more he is the best candidate. The first thing you can ask of any player is that they put themselves about the pic, harassing and hurrying the opposition and Henderson does this all game every game. Henderson in his time has shown he has excellent fitness and stamina through his tireless performances mimicking a younger Steven Gerrard who would run until the ball was out of play. We have all come to know and love a Steven Gerrard wonder pass from deep within his own half finding the feet of his desired team mate, with the captains absence Jordan has been doing this with no problems. Having found himself with new responsibilities he has become twice the player I thought he was. Jordan has instilled a belief into the team that every time we go out we can win the gam comprehensible. Every time he has captained Liverpool we have not lost a game and this could possibly come down to the sharing of responsibility. When you have a player on your team like Gerrard you half expect them to win games for you and this over reliance has cost us dearly over the years and now the team realise that they need to step up. Not only has Coutinho added goals to his game so has Henderson from all ranges.
Knowing we are losing a club legend that we have all loved to watch at his best, perhaps now is a good time to say thank you for all that you have done for the club and you have set Liverpool up for the future to prosper and go on to win many trophies.
Both teams having come off good results meant this was expected to be an exciting game that never really got going. From a Liverpool stand point the game could not have gotten off to a worse start with our main man at the back Martin Skrtel being knocked unconscious by an aerial battle with Rudy Gestede that ended with Skrtel landing awkwardly. As you would expect the necessary safety precautions were taken to ensure that any head or spinal injuries were avoided. Kolo Toure then was forced on earlier than expected and put in a good effort at restricting Gestede to a number of chances.
From the off Liverpool dominated possession as you would expect being the premier league and form side in Europe, disappointingly there was no penetration or tempo to the game making the job even simpler for Rovers. There were a few occasions where you felt that something might come from this but, due to either a lack of supply or poor supply the forward players did not really get a look in. The closest Liverpool even got to scoring was a Kolo Toure goal that was deemed offside from a free kick played in by Coutinho who was amongst a list of frustrated players.
As the game drew on you could sense that it would be the one goal that decided it and Rovers looked intent on sitting back and going for the draw to take them back to Ewood Park. Surprisingly Mario Balotelli made a late entry to the game, which, will have come as a shock to some pundits due to the very limited game time since the return of Sturridge. Balotelli did cause some havoc in the box creating space for Daniel Sturridge who had several penalty appeals all dismissed by Andre Marriner.
Some would say this was a lacklustre performance from Liverpool who lacked tempo for the whole game and others would say this was an excellent defensive display from Rovers who defended their lines from attack right through to the goalkeeper
All the rumours are pointing towards quite a youthful attacking force to feature against Italy possible because of the age of the Italian defenders who are ageing. Cheillini will not have the legs to match one of several players; Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana, Oxlade Chamberlain and Ross Barkley to name a few who would render the Italian defence cuckoo. The list of players previous are examples of the youthful nature of the squad proving England’s reliance on the old faithful is dissolving which can only benefit English football for the future. Realistically I can’t see any changes to the England back five including; Joe Hart in net, Glen Johnson at Right Back, Leighton Baines at Left Back and pairing at the back Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill. This back five has been very solid and has built up a good understanding so hopefully this will stand us in good stead in our defensive duties.
Now for the holding midfield, we obviously have the certainty of Steven Gerrard captaining the side hoping to overtake David Beckham’s record appearances for an outfield player for England. Now the difficulty comes when deciding his partner, Lampard could add an attacking threat with his good goal scoring record for England or the more likely Jordan Henderson with his box to box antics causing more havoc for Prandelli’s side to contend with.
In front of the Liverpool pair I have really struggled with deciding who should play and in what position wide or central, another issue that came to mind is does Rooney actually deserve a spot on merit. My decision is as so; Rooney through the middle because the boys alongside him will need his composure and experience to help guide them through a game of this magnitude and importance. I have been a big critic of Rooney this year saying he should be the man to step and lead United through this tough time but actually looking at his record he has come up with 15 goals mainly playing as a CAM which can only be commended. If Rooney is to ever put to rest the whispers of his national team record then Brazil would be the time to put it behind him. Alongside him Raheem Sterling but despite his age and lack of game time in an England shirt he can really, really frighten the Italy Right Back into making numerous mistakes leading to England scoring. On the other side it would be difficult to say no to Adam Lallana as he has been consistently good throughout his England career, stepping into the centre of the field running at the defence causing them to back track and lose attention of the on running players. Inevitable Daniel Sturridge must start he has shown he is an out and out scoring, creating chances at will for example Peru where he curled the ball majestically into the top corner from a unlikely position.