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Liverpool 1, Swansea 3: Fading Out of the League Cup

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Swansea come away from Anfield with the win, with a two-goal margin separating the sides that should have been much, much larger in Liverpool's poorest performance of the season.

Clive Brunskill

Liverpool 1: Suarez 77'
Swansea 3: Flores 34', Dyer 72', de Guzman 90'+5'

To be perfectly honest, this was a miserable viewing experience, and even when Liverpool scraped a goal back, it didn't feel like something worth celebrating. The opening ten minutes and the inclusion of Samed Yesil were enough for some pre- and early-match optimism, but we quickly found out that there was only one team that looked like winning tonight.

Swansea were better on the ball, more composed in possession, and far more dangerous than Liverpool were outside of that opening spell, and were it not for Brad Jones, the scoreline would have been much, much worse. Brendan Rodgers' squad selection puzzled and his substitutions--clearly a product of not wanting to lose to his former club--made even less sense.

It was just a bad, bad night at Anfield for Liverpool, by far the least inspired performance by the squad as a whole and a low point for a number of individuals--Jonjo Shelvey and Joe Allen were poor in the midfield, Jack Robinson (who's admittedly had little action) was well off the pace and was beaten mercilessly on Swansea's right, Oussama Assaidi was anonymous, and poor Samed Yesil was a ghost as he sought support that would never arrive from Joe Cole and Stewart Downing. That the out-of-favor right winger was Liverpool most influential player of the first half said it all.

The only names that can emerge with their heads held at an angle slightly resembling high are Brad Jones, Jamie Carragher, and, for the time he had an impact, Jordan Henderson. Sebastian Coates wasn't bad, and each of the three substitutes--Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez for the second half, Raheem Sterling for about twenty-five minutes--had neutral to positive performances, with Suarez getting the lone Liverpool goal. But their presence failed to inspire practically or emotionally, leaving the hosts looking flat even as they were supposed to be fighting back.

When Liverpool lose in the League Cup the League Cup doesn't really matter, and I'm typically an advocate of that sort of philosophy, especially if it's created while drinking. But performances like tonight's do matter, unfortunately, and they're of the damaging sort. Yes, it was a piecemeal Liverpool squad, and the League Cup isn't the most important competition on Liverpool's calendar. Tonight could well prove to be an outlier in a string of performances that have otherwise been encouraging.

But this was old Liverpool tonight, and that's a frightening sight to see. This was Roy Hodgson Liverpool, with little passion or direction in the play, lacking in philosophy or commitment. Not good enough to win, and certainly not anything to be proud of. The quality of the squad will certainly be better at the weekend when Newcastle visit, and the attitude must follow suit.