5 Talking points from Liverpool’s convincing Swansea win

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Liverpool romped to an impressive 4-1 victory against Swansea City on Monday in their most complete performance since August. Ben Twelves picks out five discussion points from the enjoyable night at Anfield.

Football - FA Premier League - Liverpool FC v Swansea City FC 

Brendan Rodgers’ side continued their upturn in performance level on Monday night and this time matched it with a worthy result, overcoming Gary Monk’s Swansea and leapfrogging the Welsh side in the Premier League table in the process.

Alberto Moreno’s second goal for the club – his first at Anfield – handed Liverpool the lead after 34 minutes, before the excellent Adam Lallana added a second with a fluke deflection after charging down Swans’ goalkeeper Lukas Fabianski’s attempted clearance, but within a minute the away side pulled one back thanks to Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Lallana grabbed his second goal of the night with a superb run and finish from Philippe Coutinho’s outstanding back-heel and Jonjo Shelvey – who endured a poor evening on his second return to Anfield – then headed in his own net from Jordan Henderson’s corner to give Liverpool a 4-1 win.

It was another step in the right direction for Rodgers and his team as they built on Boxing Day’s victory against Burnley and here are a number of discussion topics from the match that leaves Liverpool in 8th position and now five points from 4th place.

 

Lallana and Coutinho Combination

Key to Liverpool’s upturn in performances has been the switch to the 3-4-2-1 formation that has allowed Lallana and Coutinho to both wreak havoc from central areas of the pitch in support of Sterling.

The summer signing continues to improve and enjoy a greater influence as the games go by with some excellent movement between lines and deft touches alongside the Brazilian magician who continues his return to some unplayable form.

Their importance to the set-up the Reds now boast should not be underestimated and was perfectly evident in Monday night’s victory as they linked superbly for the third goal that killed the game as a contest – when Lallana raced on to Coutinho’s clever flick before finishing into the bottom corner.

 

Alberto Moreno impresses on return

After a spell out of the team following an unimpressive display at Old Trafford, Moreno was reintroduced to the side and enjoyed a productive night playing as the left-wing back.

The pacey Spaniard scored his second goal since joining from Sevilla in the summer, timing his run into the box to perfection before smashing home Henderson’s ball across and defensively Moreno worked hard to provide Sakho with some protection in wide-areas – often tracking back well.

Known for his ability to burst forward with electric speed, the 22-year-old provided a great outlet on the left flank and linked well with Coutinho throughout, causing more worry for the Swansea defence and in turn, space for the little magician to work his magic in the final third.

It was an excellent return to the team for Moreno who enjoyed a good night and played a vital part in the comfortable win.

 

Vice-Captain steps up

As Steven Gerrard dropped to the bench after completing five successive 90 minutes, Jordan Henderson commenced vice-captain duties taking over the armband on the night, and he led by example for the Reds.

Back in his favoured position in the middle of the park, Henderson produced an energetic display epitomised as he arrived well in the box to square and grab the assist for Moreno’s opener, and while there was an element of good fortune about it, the skipper’s corner caused panic in the Swansea six-yard box which ended with Shelvey glancing into his own net.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Monday, August 25, 2014: Liverpool's Jordan Henderson looks dejected as Manchester City score the third goal during the Premier League match at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by Chris Brunskill/Propaganda)

Henderson was calm in possession and used the ball well – always looking to find a forward pass into the dangerous duo of Coutinho and Lallana – which he did in a well worked move for the Reds’ third goal on the night.

With Gerrard absent it was a welcome return to a more influential performance for Henderson who should keep his place alongside Lucas Leiva against Leicester on New Year’s Day.

 

Improved Defensive Discipline

Aside from a couple of lapses in concentration, the Reds produced an improved defensive display with a much better shape and organisation for the most part when defending.

Emre Can retained his place in the Liverpool back three after an impressive second half in the defensive line against Burnley last time out, and it was another good display from the adaptable German as his composed and calming nature allowed Liverpool to play out comfortably through him and Sakho – who instigated the opening goal – either side of Martin Skrtel.

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Defending from the front also proved effective for the Reds – epitomised with Lallana’s first goal – after Raheem Sterling sparked the press – before being swiftly backed up by fellow attackers and one of Henderson or Lucas stepping forward to join them, restricting Swansea’s attempts to build from the back.

 

Overuse of Sterling

For all of the positives from the clash, Rodgers continued to play a dangerous game with Raheem Sterling who has incredibly played more minutes than any other outfield Premier League player so far this season.

The 20-year-old’s importance to the team and Liverpool’s struggle for form has led to an overreliance on Raheem but the amount of minutes he’s spent on the pitch is naturally increasing his chances of picking up an unnecessary injury.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, December 29, 2014: Liverpool's Raheem Sterling clashes with Swansea City's Federico Fernandez during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Tiredness is inevitable too after such a vast amount of playing time and it could have had huge consequences tonight as Sterling was lucky to avoid a red card for striking out at Federico Fernandez.

He could also yet be banned retrospectively and if that is to happen, Rodgers must shoulder part of the blame for leaving the striker on longer than he needed to with his side 4-1 up and having thee strikers on the bench.

Though Mario Balotelli did enter the fray in the 82nd minute replacing the England international, it was a substitute that could have happened 13 minutes earlier when former Red Shelvey headed Liverpool into a 4-1 lead.

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It’s essential Liverpool continue to build on the last two results when they host bottom side Leicester at Anfield on Thursday afternoon.

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