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Liverpool 4, Swansea City 1: The Emperor's New Groove

Just over a month ago, Brendan Rodgers' job security looked to be under serious scrutiny, but early signs are emerging that the Liverpool manager is starting to find some answers.

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Liverpool 4: Moreno 33', Lallana 51', 61', Shelvey (OG) 69'
Swansea 1: Sigurðsson 52'

2014 ended just as it began for Liverpool. Despite the second half of the calender year not quite going to plan, the last few fixtures have seen a sharp uptake in form, culminating in the emphatic dissection of Swansea at Anfield. With improved performances under his new system, Brendan Rodgers opted to change the personnel that scraped a 1-0 win at Turf Moor on Boxing Day, with rumours of a new look back line coming to fruition. Javier Manquillo, Emre Can and Alberto Moreno came into Liverpool's struggling defense for Kolo Toure, Lazar Markovic and Steven Gerrard, while Simon Mignolet returned in place of the injured Brad Jones.

The first half didn't offer as much attacking ferocity as the second, but Martin Skrtel had the chance to open the scoring in the sixth minute after getting on the end of Jordan Henderson's corner, only to be denied by Lukasz Fabianski. It became clear in the opening exchanges that both teams had come with their own plans to stifle the opposition. Garry Monk had instructed Wilfried Bony and Gylfi Sigurdsson to suffocate Liverpool's midfield tandem of Jordan Henderson and Lucas Leiva, but the Reds were able to work around that handily.

As a result of Mamadou Sakho's pinpoint passes to Alberto Moreno, Liverpool exposed Swansea's right flank from the off; creating space to work by bypassing the midfield altogether. It was an approach that paid dividends. Early chances were created by the energetic Spanish fullback as he provided opportunities for Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho, but neither were able to convert. It was a change of emphasis that Swansea never really got to grips with (at least until the introduction of Angel Rangel in the second half), and the breakthrough fittingly came in 33rd minute through Moreno. As his teammates marauded forward, the leftback found himself precariously positioned to meet Jordan Henderson's cross for a poacher's effort within the six yard box. Liverpool ended the half with a bombardment of corners, but failed to double their lead before the half-time whistle.

While it remains to be seen whether Jonjo Shelvey and Raheem Sterling will face retrospective punishment for their violent conduct, Martin Skrtel will definitely miss Leicester City's visit to Anfield on New Years Day after picking up his fifth booking of the season for literally ripping Wayne Routledge's shorts off, which at least earned the winger the admiring glances and catcalls of the crowd. Shelvey can have no complaints if he, too, finds himself on the receiving end of a suspension. After a mazy run, the former Liverpool man appeared to lash out at Emre Can in frustration after being dispossessed, while Sterling might escape action because his apparent jab at Federico Fernandez happened in plain sight of the linesman.

A bizarre series of events began to unfold in the 51st minute, as Fabianski's attempted clearance ricocheted off Adam Lallana's head and bundled into the net to give Liverpool a two goal advantage. It wasn't their prettiest effort of 2014, but a side bereft of confidence will take goals by any means necessary. Of course, things were never going to be that straight forward, so Lallana's unintentional strike was quickly nullified when Gylfi Sigurdsson gave his team a lifeline less than a minute later. It was chaotic defending as Wilfried Bony found himself unmarked in the box - Martin Skrtel opting instead to simply stand at a safe distance and point - leaving Mamadou Sakho to take the initiative. For his efforts, the towering defender could only head the ball into the path of the onrushing Sigurdsson, who easily swept the ball passed a hapless Simon Mignolet.

Truth be told, it was about time things picked up, and pick up they did. Swansea almost found themselves level moments after scoring, and Liverpool too could have added a third if not for the crossbar's intervention. The game was hanging in the balance and probably could've gone either way at this stage. Adam Lallana, though, determined to claim himself a legitimate goal, latched on to Coutinho's silky exchange and dribbled his way into the penalty area. From there, he rounded the last defender and slotted home to give Liverpool the safety blanket they needed.

Like a shark smelling blood, Brendan Rodgers' side hunted for more. Perhaps feeling particularly reminiscent about last season, or just desperate to escape with three points, Liverpool flooded forward in forays. With the roar of the Anfield crowd behind them, shots were blocked and a vital corner was conceded by Neil Taylor. It wasn't a conventional set piece by any means - as a matter of fact, Jordan Henderson will probably be the first to admit that he scuffed his cross a little bit - but it proved to be the decisive knockout blow. After sharing some friendly banter with Lallana (better than throwing elbows, we suppose), Jonjo Shelvey once again made the headlines against his former club by nodding the ball into his own goal. Oh, Jonjo.

The game was beyond doubt. Each of Liverpool's front three were substituted to standing ovations, Lallana in particular earning the plaudits of the Kop for his contributions, but the importance of Philippe Coutinho cannot be understated. Since his Man of the Match performance against Arsenal, the Brazilian midfielder has been instrumental in Liverpool's successes, and this match was no exception. Brendan Rodgers will take confidence in his side's performance and, ahead of hosting Leicester City, hope their form can be replicated. As of this moment, Liverpool sit five points behind the Champions League places, and with some advised New Years Resolutions under his belt, Brendan Rodgers could yet mastermind an assault on the top four in 2015.

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