Premier League Preview: How Liverpool Will Line Up Against Swansea City
Liverpool might have lost to Arsenal in the FA Cup last weekend, but the Reds remain unbeaten in the Premier League in the calendar year of 2014 as they prepare to take on Swansea City at Anfield this Sunday.
Back in September, these two sides shared the points at the Liberty Stadium, where former Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey played a hand in all four goals in an entertaining 2-2 draw.
The two teams have experienced contrasting fortunes in the subsequent months. Brendan Rodgers has taken the Reds to fourth place in the league; Michael Laudrup was relieved of his managerial duties earlier this month, with Swans favorite Garry Monk stepping up as interim manager.
Let’s take a look at how Liverpool might line up as they welcome Swansea to Anfield on Sunday. Let us know your picks in the comments below.
Goalkeeper: Simon Mignolet
On a rare start last Sunday in the FA Cup, Brad Jones provided more assertiveness from crosses and deliveries into the penalty area than Simon Mignolet of late, but it will be first-choice Mignolet who will resume his position between the sticks at Anfield.
Right-Back: Jon Flanagan
With Glen Johnson still out injured and Martin Kelly out of form, Jon Flanagan remains Liverpool’s best option on the right side of defence for the time being.
He has been spoken of as a potential candidate for the England national team by boss Brendan Rodgers, according to a report by Mike Whalley for ESPN FC, and will be eager to prolong his run in the first team with another solid performance on Sunday.
Left-Back: Aly Cissokho
Far from the liability that he was a few weeks ago, Aly Cissokho has improved massively and become one of Liverpool’s most solid defenders.
As Jose Enrique continues to struggle with his return from injury, Cissokho will get another chance to impress and earn a permanent move to Anfield at the end of his loan spell this season.
Centre-Back: Martin Skrtel
Without doubt, the 2013/14 Premier League campaign has been Martin Skrtel’s most productive in terms of goals: He’s scored four in 24 league games this season.
But he’s also made many defensive errors directly leading to goals conceded in a wildly inconsistent season at the heart of the Liverpool defence.
He’ll need to be at his best against a bulldozing Wilfried Bony.
Centre-Back: Daniel Agger
There is no better example of the difficulty in switching from one side in central defence to the other than Kolo Toure this season.
Having signed for Liverpool last summer and become a solid member of the first team at the beginning of the season, Toure has made two glaring defensive mistakes in the past few weeks and cut a shaky presence in the Liverpool defence of late.
Daniel Agger’s return to the lineup in the FA Cup last Sunday means that the vice-captain will likely reprise his starting role, giving Toure a breather on the bench.
Holding Midfielder: Steven Gerrard
At 33 years of age, Steven Gerrard remains as important for his boyhood club as ever.
With seven Premier League goals and nine assists this season, Gerrard still poses a dangerous threat from his unerring set pieces and piercing through-balls and has started to come to life in his holding midfield role.
Central Midfielder: Jordan Henderson
When Gerrard sat out of the side through injury in December, Jordan Henderson thrived on the extra responsibility afforded to him in the Reds midfield.
After Gerrard’s return, though, Henderson appeared to become less assertive again, but he has rediscovered his confidence and leadership recently and delivered a few impressive displays as the midfield runner alongside his club captain.
Joe Allen’s unconvincing performance at the Emirates last Sunday saw Henderson introduced from the bench as Brendan Rodgers looked to add more steel and drive into his midfield. It will likely be the Reds No. 14 who starts in place of Allen against the latter’s former club.
Attacking Midfielder: Philippe Coutinho
Even as Philippe Coutinho dazzled with his brilliant footwork and outstanding vision last season, he was perhaps a bit too lightweight and physically unassertive to be a dominant influence in every Liverpool match in the league.
But he’s added the stamina, pressing and strength on the ball in recent weeks to mature into a complete midfielder for the Reds, as he forms an effective trio with Gerrard and Henderson to support a fit and firing front three.
Coutinho scored his first goal for Liverpool in the same fixture last season as they ran riot and scored five goals without reply.
Right Forward: Raheem Sterling
If Coutinho’s maturation and physical development have been impressive, then Raheem Sterling’s have been downright extraordinary.
He has made himself an ever-present member of Rodgers’ starting XI—he’s enjoyed a run of 14 successive Premier League starts since returning to the first team in December—and become one of the best and complete young wingers in England in the process.
Steven Gerrard recently praised Sterling for his excellent form, via a report by James Pearce the Liverpool Echo, and the youngster will look to enhance his prospects of going to the World Cup with yet another strong showing on Sunday.
Left Forward: Luis Suarez
After setting a record for most goals scored in a Premier League month in December, Luis Suarez has retreated from his all-conquering goalscoring feats leading the line for Liverpool and become more of a creator and supporting act to the in-form Daniel Sturridge.
While he has only scored one goal in his last five games, and three in his last eight, Suarez still holds an overall impressive record this season, with 23 goals in 21 league games.
He was one of the scorers in the same fixture last season and will be eager to find his form on Sunday as the Reds enter the business end of a promising season.
Striker: Daniel Sturridge
After missing a host of chances against Arsenal in the FA Cup, Daniel Sturridge missed an opportunity to set a new Liverpool record for scoring in the highest number of consecutive games for the Reds.
Instead, he will look to continue his Premier League goalscoring streak: He’s scored in seven successive league games. Don’t be surprised if he extends that run on Sunday.