Liverpool's Win over Swansea Thrilling but Attack Won't Always Bail out Defence

Max Munton@thisisanfieldLiverpool CorrespondentFebruary 23, 2014


Liverpool should take their 4-3 victory over Swansea City in the Premier League on Sunday as a stark warning that however good the attack is, it won't always cover the defensive frailties.

When Jordan Henderson bundled the ball in for the Reds' winner on 74 minutes, rather than a celebration of the thrilling climax to the match, the feeling inside Anfield was one of relief.

Last week's dramatic 3-2 win at Fulham should have been all the warning Liverpool needed—Steven Gerrard's late winner providing a crucial get out of jail card for them.

At the risk of sounding negative after another difficult and important win on Liverpool's journey this season, there remains an undeniable anxiety about the Reds' ability to keep a lead.

Attempting to pinpoint the problems in Liverpool's defence isn't easy. 

Glen Johnson looked much sharper after coming back from injury and contributed well to Liverpool's attacks down the left for most of the game. The side lacked a presence like his with Aly Cissokho at left-back.

However, as the game went on, Johnson was turned and outpaced time and time again. The realisation that Cissokho, who has looked a more assured defender recently before being dropped on Sunday, isn't that bad after all crept around the ground.

Jon Flanagan, aside from some fragile moments in the first half, generally did a solid job on the right side.

That leaves the central defence, and whilst the Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger partnership could no doubt be upgraded by the return of Mamadou Sakho from his hamstring problem, both made some important tackles and interceptions against Swansea. 

Agger's niggle in the second half and subsequent substitution for Kolo Toure was yet another shift in a constantly changing defensive back-four.

It is perhaps this lack of cohesion in Liverpool's defence that is proving problematic. Late on, Skrtel was left to sweep up a dangerous Swansea through-ball that Simon Mignolet really should have had the courage to come and take himself.

"As always as a coach, you'll analyse where you can be better, and we're looking to improve that for next week," Reds manager Brendan Rodgers said, per Sky Sports.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 23:  Wilfried Bony of Swansea City celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Swansea City at Anfield on February 23, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Like Henderson's first of the afternoon, Jonjo Shelvey's goal was unstoppable, but dealing with set pieces was again an issue for Liverpool when Wilfried Bony pushed home the Swans' first equaliser of the day.

The gaping hole in front of the defence that has haunted Liverpool this season could well be the culprit to the defensive horrors. Time and again, their defence were sent back-peddling as Swansea mounted pressing attacks.

When Joe Allen replaced Raheem Sterling in the second half, Liverpool began to control play better and the Welshman had one of his best performances in the Red shirt. He got in and amongst Swansea's players, causing trouble and breaking down their attacks.

Liverpool's free-scoring attack was again on-song. Though Luis Suarez had a quiet game, Sterling looked lively until his 58th-minute substitution, and the Reds again had Daniel Sturridge's natural goalscoring abilities to be thankful for.

On this occasion, the home side edged it by scoring one more than their opponents, but it's a risky game to play, and when the attack does eventually have an off-day, Liverpool could be hit hard.


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