How Liverpool Can Break Down Swansea City

Mark Jones@@Mark_Jones86Featured ColumnistSeptember 15, 2013

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 17: Jordan Henderson of Liverpool attempts to moveaway from Leon Britton of Swansea during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Swansea City at Anfield on February 17, 2013 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Monday night sees Liverpool’s 100 percent start to the season put on the line when they go to the Liberty Stadium to take on Swansea City.

The match has several intriguing elements, most notably the return of Brendan Rodgers to the club he guided to promotion to the Premier League in 2011, whilst midfielders Jonjo Shelvey and Joe Allen could be lining up against their former clubs―providing that the latter is fit.

Most crucially of all though, it represents a tough assignment for the Reds following their three victories from three matches in this campaign (four from four including their Capital One Cup win over Notts County).

Liverpool struggled with the Swans prior to last season’s 5-0 victory over a weakened side at Anfield, failing to score in their previous three league meetings following Swansea City’s elevation to the top flight in 2011.

The teams are often compared due to their similar passing styles and overall approach to the game, due chiefly to the influence of Rodgers on both clubs.

On Monday the Northern Irishman will have just one thought: how his current club can get the better of his former one in a test of Liverpool’s capability to stay among the Premier League’s top teams. 

After a weekend when all of the big boys were in action, all eyes will be on Liverpool in the lone Monday night game, with many of those eyes waiting to see the Reds slip up.

Following back-to-back defeats against Manchester United and Tottenham, the Swans earned their first league victory of the season at West Bromwich Albion last time out.

Key to their success is of course their passing philosophy, something which Michael Laudrup has impressively kept alive at the club following Rodgers’ departure for Liverpool in the summer of 2012.

But they can’t pass when they haven’t got the ball, and maintaining possession will be key to Liverpool’s chances at the Liberty Stadium on a night sure to present them with plenty of challenges.

Should Laudrup opt to start with Michu playing just behind forward Wilfried Bony, as he did at West Brom, it will be crucial for Liverpool’s centre backs to limit what the Spaniard and the Ivorian are supplied. They can do that by getting on the front foot.

The absence of Glen Johnson through injury is a bigger blow to the Reds than many realise, but if Andre Wisdom is the player chosen to replace him at right back then he and Jose Enrique will be key to the visitors’ attempts to widen the pitch and use an expansive style to beat Swansea at their own game.

It is this approach which could see Victor Moses make his first appearance for the club as a starter, with Liverpool seeking to spread the play make use of the space behind Swansea full-backs Ben Davies and Angel Rangel.

The presence of Daniel Sturridge up front gives the Reds a goalscoring focal point who will surely strike fear into the hearts of many defenders given his current form, but Liverpool will have to work hard to deliver him the service that he thrives on.

This is where Jordan Henderson’s relentless energy comes in handy.

If he can harass and harry Swansea’s midfielders―including his former teammate Shelvey―then he could force the same type of errors from the home side that they committed in their 4-1 opening day home defeat to Manchester United, when the visitors didn’t create much but were ruthless in front of goal.

That ruthlessness is one of the few things missing from Liverpool’s impressive start to their league season, in which they have scored only three goals.

Improving that number will be uppermost in Red minds when they converge on the Liberty.  If they concentrate on playing their own game against Swansea, they’ll be hopeful that their extra quality with shine through on a night when the 100 percent record will come under threat.