Swansea Confirm Safety With 3-1 Win Over Liverpool
1st May 2016
Swansea City confirmed their Premier League status early Sunday afternoon with a convincing 3-1 win against a Liverpool side that still looked hungover from their Europa League campaign.
Guidolin's side were keen to forget about their previous two heavy - as the Swans conceded 7 goals with zero in return. The Italian's refusal to admit that his side produced a poor performance against likely champions Leicester didn't help his cause in earning a new contract at the club.
But the manner of the 3-1 victory against Liverpool means you still can't write off the 60 year-old.
It was clear from today's performance that the team are capable of playing good, attacking football and beating the better sides in the League. Some may take the shine off the win by saying it was a weakened Liverpool side, but it was one that still included the likes of Sturridge, Coutinho and Skrtel.
With Leroy Fer and Alberto Paloschi both out with hamstring injuries, Guidolin opted to start Andre Ayew up front - and it proved to be an excellent decision. He looked much more of a threat up top in the 4-2-3-1 system - as opposed to the wing.
Montero and Routledge occupied the flanks, with Cork and Britton bossing the centre of the pitch against Liverpool's young, inexperienced duo.
It was like Christmas come early for Swansea fans - even by half time. Incredibly, the Swans had a 2-goal lead by the break, opening with a goal straight from a corner, before Jack Cork - of all players - curled in a superbly placed strike from outside the box.
Liverpool's defending at a corner for the first goal was as bad as ours has been all season. Ayew wasn't marked, Sigurdsson sent in an inviting in-swinging cross and Ayew easily found the net inside the 6-yard box.
13 minutes later, the lead was doubled. Again, it was half-hearted defending work from Liverpool as a high ball wasn't won by Coutinho - who had a poor game by his standards. Cork, winning loose balls as he was doing all game - picked it up on the edge of the final third, moved forward into space before picking out the top corner of the net with a sublime curling shot that gave the goalkeeper no chance of stopping.
Swansea City had finally got a second first half goal that they attacking play deserved. Liverpool were having an equal share of the possession but with a lack of energy in their play, they weren't causing many problems.
Swansea were though. Montero had a rather slow start to the game, he wasn't able to get the better of the full back, but he soon settled as the team added their goals.
Suddenly, Montero was getting some space, Liverpool were losing too many balls in Swansea's half, which allowed them to counter with pace. Ayew was making some intelligent runs to try and catch out the opposition defence but the balls into him were lacking accuracy. Fer could have had a field in the first half as he has shown ability to pick a long, defence-splitting pass since his loan move from QPR.
Sigurdsson was battling and chasing every loose ball as ever, which helped frustrate Liverpool - stopping them from playing football out from the back and having any decent spells of possession.
The key to Swansea's play and dominance though was the central midfield duo of Leon Britton and Jack Cork. Many fans have said that they can't play together - they're too similar and there's a lack of attacking creativity if they both play. But Cork went a long way to suggest that he's not just a limited and defensive midfielder. He was winning loose balls throughout the game, his passing was always accurate but we saw what he can do in front of goal when given the chance.
With a 2-goal lead at half time, Swansea had to keep up the momentum in the second half as they knew Liverpool couldn't perform any worse. They also had subs available to improve their chances of a comeback.
It was no surprise to see Lucas come on to strengthen their central midfield, as they were clearly losing the battle in the middle third. Benteke also came on and he showed his aerial threat 20 minutes after the restart.
Both sides showed their inability to defend corners. The Swans gifted another goal from a set piece as Benteke headed home what would be Swansea's 14th goal conceded from a corner or indirect free kick this season. Yet again, Sigurdsson was marking the goalscorer - Benteke. Why a centre half wasn't marking him I don't know. Two Swansea were sent rushing into the near post, leaving space for the striker to easily head home from 6 yards.
It was the last thing Swansea needed - to concede a goal relatively early in the second half to shift the momentum to Liverpool and to give them hope of getting something from the game.
But after conceding a goal when a clean sheet was looking likely, the Swans burst back into life once again. Montero was running at full backs and it was the winger who helped restore the 2-goal lead just two minutes later.
Lucas was sloppy in possession, allowing Sigurdsson to steal possession off him easily inside their half. Montero cut the ball back into the box as Sigurdsson helped it on to Ayew. The Ghana international did brilliantly to shield off the defenders to create a shooting chance as he tucked the ball away into the bottom corner.
Liverpool's chances of a comeback were all but over with 15 minutes to go when Smith was stupidly shown a second yellow card after a high tackle on Kyle Naughton.
It was Swansea's fourth consecutive home win of the season - their best ever Premier League run and they did it in emphatic style. It was more satisfying than the Chelsea win. The opposition in both games were not up to their usual standard but the Swans can only play against what was in front of them. And even so, both sides had quality players that could cause problems. But the three goals were satisfying as us Swansea fans have forgotten what it's like to watch us net 2 or 3 goals past teams!
Whilst some fans might have been wondering if we'd get another point before today's game, who's to say we won't get anything against Manchester City? They lost 4-2 against Southampton and if we're up for it - as we have been against the better sides at home lately, there's no reason why not.