It was the sort of game that the good teams win: gritty, ugly and not according to the plan. After blowing some of the league’s top sides away over last few weeks, the Reds got a small taste of their own medicine in the first half of their visit to the Liberty Stadium.
With manager, Francesco Guidolin, firmly on the hot seat, the Swans laid it all on their line for the Italian, running out an aggressive high press led by the energetic Jack Cork that caught Liverpool off their guard. Leroy Fer opened the scoring in the eighth minute with his fourth goal of the campaign in between two gilt-edged chances by Swansea record signing Baston Borja, and Klopp’s men were lucky to go into the half only 1-0 down.
“In the first half Swansea played good football,” the German admitted, “you are as only good as your opponent lets you be. It should not be that easy to disturb our build up, but we were static…[and] because we had no orientation and were not really awake, it was easy defend and we [hit] lots of long balls.
“I couldn’t really see any counter pressing situations, much different to the last game [against Hull City]. Things like this can happen. You play at 12:30, that’s different. You play at Swansea, it’s different. They created a wonderful atmosphere [at the Liberty Stadium] and it was really important for them, so we had to show how important it was for us.
His side were a different animal the second half, however, the Reds showed their superior conditioning in outlasting the high-energy Swansea press to go ahead on a header by Roberto Firmino and James Milner penalty.
“The second half was like the whole game should have been,” he remarked. “We were really angry with ourselves in the first half, because the body language was not good, too late in mind, all that stuff.
We were not brilliant in the second half, but we were much better. We gave them more difficult questions in the second half, than the first half and so we scored.”
He noted further how the game differed from recent others in which his squad came out firing on all cylinders in the first half, but was most pleased with how his side rose to the challenge
“You can accept a situation or you can try to fight against the first half if you want. We tried to use it as a kind of warming up, and although unfortunately we ended up 1-0, nothing else happened. We were not here to score one goal, we were here to perform and to get a result. It was clear that we would try everything.”
You can lose football games and we will lose football games in the future, but you have to show, at minimum, part of your usual phase and that’s what we showed the second half [as] we bossed them, playing much more like how we should be and we deserved the win at the end, I think.”