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Match Preview: Liverpool v. Swansea City, 11.05.11

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swansea

Swansea visit Anfield in the last match before the break, looking to earn points away from home for just the second time this season. They find themselves in tenth on the strength of three home wins and two draws, but their only point on the road came via a 2-2 draw at Wolves. Liverpool will hoping to change things up as well after two consecutive 1-1 draws at Anfield prior to their win at the Hawthorns last weekend.

Tomorrow's is a match that we've collectively grown to be wary of; a newly-promoted side that's maybe punching above their weight, nothing to lose, haven't played in a league match at Anfield in almost twenty years, you know the drill. Liverpool do seem to be hitting their stride, though, after all they could do was hit the post, the bar, or bears.

Brendan Rogers has been roundly praised for Swansea's early form, as most assumed they'd be cemented to the bottom of the table if they stuck to the more fluid style of play that saw them finish third in the Championship and promoted after playoff wins against Nottingham Forest and Reading. As noted in the intro, they've yet to find their feet on the road, but at home, they've sparkled, scoring at least twice in each of their three home wins.

Most impressive of late have been Scott Sinclair and Danny Graham, as the former Chelsea winger's started all ten matches and scored in both of Swansea's October wins, and the forward man has scored in each of the last four matches. Rogers can also call on Nathan Dyer on the opposite flank of Sinclair, and a midfield with Leon Britton and Joe Allen that could be boosted by the return of Kemy Agustien. The personnel at the back's been fairly consistent as well, with Michael Vorm putting together an impressive campaign in goal behind a back line that's often featured Angel Rangel, Ashley Williams, and Neil Taylor.

For Liverpool:

Who starts for Liverpool?

Reina
Johnson Skrtel Agger Enrique
Lucas Adam
Henderson Maxi
Suarez Carroll

---Steven Gerrard's the only confirmed absence tomorrow, as he continues to recover from an ankle infection that kept him out of the West Brom match. Jamie Carragher's the more likely to future, but as usual, Kenny Dalglish was coy about his prospects.

---I'm banking on Carragher not being fit, and while I can't see him being left out if he is, the partnership between Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger deserves at least one more run-out. Both full-back positions seem to select themselves at the moment, with Glen Johnson right and Jose Enrique left. There can't be any debate about the latter, whose form has been remarkable, but I'd guess there's still some that would prefer to see Martin Kelly as first-choice.

---Odds of the Lucas-Charlie Adam pairing in central midfield breaking up are slim to none---after Jay Spearing put in an excellent shift against Stoke he was relegated back to the bench, with Adam coming into the side. That looks like the way forward for better or worse for Dalglish, and while there's signs of progression for Adam, I'm still not convinced. Same but more positive for Jordan Henderson, who's had a number of consecutive strong showings lately and will likely get another start in front of Dirk Kuyt. I'm not sure who would be mostly likely to come into his place, but I again think a rest for Stewart Downing should be on the cards; tomorrow I'm hoping for a large dose of Maxi to change things up.

---Barring a late injury there's no reason we shouldn't see Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez up top, as their developing partnership really seemed to blossom last weekend, even if you couldn't get the announcers to stop shouting in your ear that it's just not going to work. That leaves Craig Bellamy in an impact substitute role, which hopefully Liverpool won't need.

What's the most important factor for the Reds?

One of Liverpool's biggest weaknesses over the past few seasons has been their tendency to leave just enough breathing room for sides that are willing to make a go of it. Most of the time (at least this season) it's been the inability to take chances, but in years gone by there's a sense that mid- and lower-table sides pose as big a threat, if not more, than the sides Liverpool expect to challenge them. We hear plenty about the respect for everyone in the pre-match, but the style of play often betrays that sentiment. I'd love to see Liverpool show lots of respect to sides like Swansea and Norwich and Sunderland. Just by completely dominating them, both on the pitch and the scoresheet.

For the first time in awhile, a league match is difficult to come by on TV, with no live listing in the US or the UK. There's got to be streams coming from somewhere, though, so we'll make sure to include the usual links along with anything else that pops up between now and kickoff. Share the wealth if we're not in the know, and we'll run what we have late tonight, with team sheets appearing about an hour before kickoff. Or whenever one of you decides to get smart and show me up again.

Hope you all have a good Friday, and let's all hope we share a great start to the weekend tomorrow.