Liverpool FC: Rating the Liverpool Players Against Swansea
Liverpool and Swansea shared the spoils on Sunday in a Barclays Premier League encounter at the Liberty Stadium with a 0-0 scoreline that did little to add waves to either team's future ambitions or prospects.
Why did Brendan Rodgers not go for a more ambitious approach? It can be because he did not want to lose at the home of his former employers and disrupt a momentum, which with all due respect is being built slowly.
It can also be that he was aware of his side's failings just a few weeks ago when they conceded three goals at home to a Swansea side that picked them at will on the counter. The latter, in my opinion, is a more concrete reason.
As a Liverpool fan you expect your side to beat Swansea, but at the moment Rodgers is trying to build a morale—a stubbornness to not lose—before he pushes for the final touches that will enable him to aim for a victory in every game. The first stage of those touches will be there to see during January as reinforcements are sought.
As far as the game itself went, Liverpool could and should have easily won it. It would not have mattered it was an ugly 1-0. The players did not have an extraordinary game, and here I will try to be as judicious as possible while rating them.
So let us get on with rating the performance of the Liverpool players for the Reds' latest League game.
The goalkeeper had a solid game in between the sticks. He did not have too much to do. He did take a knock though for preventing a probable goal. Who knows if it were not for his courage, Liverpool might well have lost 1-0.
In a boring 0-0 draw in which Liverpool were the much more dominant side, you can picture how busy Reina would have been. Swansea hardly created any clear cut openings. I thus give Reina a rating of 6.5 out of 10.
The full-back was lively in the first half but faded away during the second. Liverpool had a similar story, so you cannot say that it was entirely Johnson's inability. The whole team just did not push on from the first half.
He had a headed chance and linked up well with Raheem Sterling. He also found himself at the edge of the opposition's penalty area at times, which was again in the first half only.
Personally, I was frustrated with Johnson when he held onto the ball for far too long in stoppage time and surrendered possession when it was one last opportunity to create something.
Can I just rate him and get on with the other players? I just do not see how anyone could shell out the amount of money that Liverpool have for a player of Stewart Downing's ability. It must be one of the worst buys ever if not the worst.
However, you should credit where due and as a consolation, I would like to remind all the readers that if it were not for Downing's strike, Liverpool would have a lesser chance of qualifying for the next stage in the Europa League.
Well that is about all the positives that Downing will get all this year it seems because he is unlikely to feature anymore.
While his defensive work was good enough it was his offensive play, something that is his game and strength, that was disappointing. He just cannot beat a man even while possessing some good pace.
The Slovakian powerhouse was one of he reasons that Reina had so little to do. Skrtel did nothing special but did not put a foot wrong either. It was an assured performance and there is not much to write other than that.
I do wish though that he would score through his head more. The goal against Manchester City was unstoppable and you expect that kind of execution more often. To be fair the appropriate delivery should be there too.
Like Skrtel, Daniel Agger had a good game at the back and saved Reina quite some effort. Seeing Rafael Benitez take over at Chelsea, I reminisced how Agger used to get forward on so many occasions under the Spaniard.
Not to say that he does not do it under Rodgers, but the Swansea game was one of those where Agger did not go forward too frequently. And the instance he did venture beyond midfield he gave the ball away and had to get back to help quickly.
Joe Allen did all that was asked of him but till when is he going to keep hiding behind the excuse of "filling a role for the team." There is a lot more creativity required in the Liverpool midfield and Allen needs to step it up at least a notch if not a few in that department.
Keeping it simple is good when things are working but when they are not as was the case at the weekend, the players and Allen have got to try something different.
I actually cannot wait for Lucas to get back and see Allen in a more advanced role from where he can make runs because he is deceptively quick.
Henderson had one of his better games for Liverpool but did not do much else than what Allen did. Although what was good to see that Rodgers has managed to inspire Henderson into not being afraid of passing the ball forward with more conviction.
I still would give Henderson a better rating on a more assured performance.
Even though Gerrard committed one of the poorest mistakes of the match which almost put Liverpool's goal under threat, he was by far the most accomplished passers on the day. Anything that happened on the pitch offensively for Liverpool in the midfield happened through their captain.
He understood his responsibility and was trying to create something at every opportunity. Alas because of minimal movement in front of him and also because of the fact that the two systems were cancelling each other out he found it very difficult.
Jose Enrique had a poor game by the standards he has been setting in the recent few weeks as an attacking midfielder. The Spaniard lost possession in good areas and found it hard to create things such as those that he has been like in the game against Wigan.
Again, the similarity of the two systems being employed did not help things. I would also love Enrique to try shooting more often.
Raheem Sterling has been quite a revelation and he was one of the more important players for Liverpool once again. He nearly won the game for Liverpool when he almost scored a scorching volley in the first half. His shot off the post was the closest anyone came in the game to breaking the deadlock.
He also had a good opportunity in the first half of a mistake that fell on his left foot. His shot was weak and he must have learned that he needs to develop shooting of his weaker foot. In hindsight he could have also played in Suarez then.
In the closing stages also, Sterling was "guilty" of finding Suarez with a heavier pass than was needed in a two on one situation. Had he been more mature about it Liverpool could well have gone home with all three points.
Luis Suarez never gets tired of putting all his 100 percent in each and every match. This match was no different. Just as Gerrard was responsible for everything good in midfield, Suarez was doing his utmost to get another away win for Liverpool in the final third.
If Suarez had scored, which he could have easily done if Sterling's pass back to him had the right weight on it, he would have emulated Barnes and Aldridge on the stat of consecutive games scored in away from Anfield.
Jonjo Shelvey has impressed me but on this occasion he hardly did anything after coming off the bench. To be fair to him, he had very little time to make a mark and he almost did by a fierce shot near the end.
Other than that, the lesser talked about his performance, the better. He simply did not see much of the ball and considering that Liverpool were poor in the second half that was proving difficult.
Joe Cole just could not emulate his good showing in the Europa League in the Premier League. He hardly got the ball and his claims of proving his time at Liverpool a success seemed more fiction than fact.
If you are reading this and wondering whether Cole was even on the pitch for that game I would not blame you. That is how non-existent his presence for the last 15 minutes or so.
Admittedly, this article is a little late in the day, but I hope tonight's performance against Tottenham can be a lot better from the men in red.
Rodgers is looking to keep this momentum of going unbeaten in the league but I hope he does not look for a draw against Tottenham.
To conclude, Rodgers and Liverpool can experiment and should have against Swansea. I think he thought that with Everton and Arsenal drawing a point would be good, and he also may not have wanted to compromise on the unbeaten streak along with losing at the ground of hi former employers.
Whatever be the reason, the limited personnel also was a cause for being handicapped and thus Rodgers cannot be entirely blamed. Suso will probably come back for Tottenham and maybe even Sahin as Rodgers looks to rotate and juggle his resources in his attempts to not exhaust resources during a crucial and hectic portion of the season.