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Swansea City 0, Liverpool 1: First Thoughts

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A close win and a clean sheet was secured on a Monday night in Wales.

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

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Swansea City 0
Liverpool 1 Henderson 68'

  • Pre-match thoughts: Mamadou Sakho returned to the starting line-up for the first time since his injury alongside the recently concussed Martin Skrtel. Emre Can joined the more experienced pair in the back three for a defensive selection not witnessed since the home victory against Besiktas in the Europa League. Steven Gerrard returned to the squad after a month out injured and Mario Balotelli missed out owing to illness.

  • Liverpool pressed hard in the first ten minutes and it was quite impressive. Could the away side sustain it for the whole game? Swansea City had the better of the early exchanges but not by too much.

  • While Liverpool remained disciplined in defence without offering much in attack as the away side's press dropped, Swansea increased their territorial advantage and possession, and Liverpool's opening half hour in attack amounted to little more than Daniel Sturridge's effort wide from 20 yards on the seven minute mark.

  • Simon Mignolet was forced into fine action saving from Bafetimbi Gomis on 31 minutes and Gylfi Sigurdsson on 38 minutes. In between, good football from the home side ended up with a shot over by Sigurdsson. Swansea were dangerous and pushed for the opening goal.

  • Half-time thoughts: Liverpool were fortunate to be level but still had not conceded a goal away since a disappointing trip to Old Trafford in mid-December. Swansea were the better side, controlled the game, and had the better chances. Simon Mignolet was the busier keeper and Liverpool were somewhat sloppy in possession. Ki Sung-Yeung and Jack Cork were impressive in midfield.

  • A cagey first five minutes were followed by a more enterprising Liverpool for ten minutes or so before a brief lull with Raheem Sterling causing problems for Neil Taylor down Liverpool's right as Swansea started to misplace a few passes. Sterling's cut back to Philippe Coutinho resulted in a smart save by Lukasz Fabianksi at his near post on 58 minutes.

  • Steven Gerrard was introduced with around 25 minutes to go as Brendan Rodgers sought inspiration from the Liverpool legend. Four minutes later, Liverpool were ahead through a bit of good fortune but a goal was coming. Jordan Henderson was the beneficiary as a defensive clearance bounced off his shins and into the net. On 76 minutes, Sturridge played in Sterling who clipped his shot over. 

  • The last ten minutes were tense as Jefferson Montero brought troubling pace from the bench against a less than composed Emre Can. Steven Gerrard's experience and composure was useful with his range of passing alongside the impressive Joe Allen. Sterling continued to be a reliable and regular out ball on the Liverpool's right. Liverpool's control from half time was impressive.

  • Full-time thoughts: There were a few tense moments and Sturridge nearly sealed the game deep into added time after he hit the post after a counter attack. Coutinho was released from the right after the Brazilian international was sent free from Henderson and Daniel Sturridge went for the clever option but was denied by the post. Liverpool wouldn't need a second goal as victory was sealed after four minutes of added on time. Another clean sheet, another three points, and Liverpool go into a titanic clash with Manchester United at Anfield with fourth spot up for grabs. Thank you luck, grit, clever tactical changes, and Simon Mignolet.

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We'll be back shortly to take an in-depth look at everything that happened in today's game with the full recap. Until then, let us know your take on the ups and downs of the match in the comments, and if you haven't already, join the community on the Liverpool Offside, where we'll have full coverage and lively in-game discussion for every match this season.