Liverpool are in excellent form, which is positive and heartening for Liverpool fans hoping for an era of genuine competitiveness under Jürgen Klopp. After Klopp made a successful and charming appearance on Monday Night Football on Sky Sports, Liverpool—unburdened by any midweek European commitments—will look menacingly ahead to a trip to Swansea City.
The past week has been about dismantling Derby County to secure a high-profile tie with Tottenham Hotspur in the EFL Cup and thrashing Hull City in the Premier League to quell concerns raised by a 2-0 defeat away to Burnley. For Swansea, however, it's been a thankless week overall. Facing Pep Guardiola’s confident Manchester City side isn't the most welcome occasion for a team in need of form, but for a head coach under perceived pressure, taking them on twice in a week is cruel.
Knocked out of the EFL Cup and consigned to a fourth defeat in six Premier League games, Francesco Guidolin is facing questions about his future at the club. Losing two games to Manchester City shouldn't instigate soul searching for many Premier League clubs, and bar the home defeat to Hull City last month, the results haven't been particularly shocking. Yet, Swansea are without a league win since the opending day, and Ryan Giggs has been strongly linked to succeeding Guidolin at the Liberty Stadium.
The former Udinese head coach signed a deal in January—ending Alan Curtis’ stint as caretaker manager—to last until the end of the season before agreeing a two-year contract in the summer. Interestingly, there were widespread rumours that Brendan Rodgers was set to return to Swansea as a more ambitious appointment, which suggested some doubts about Guidolin being the preferred long-term appointment by the club. Chairman Huw Jenkins is believed to have approached the club’s hierarchy about a potential change after concerns related to squad harmony (two players have openly shown disrespect after being substituted) and results under Guidolin.
Swansea secured some big results under the experienced Italian head coach earlier this year to maintain the club’s Premier League status. Everton were bested at Goodison Park in Guidolin’s debut to lift spirits ahead of a relegation battle, but more was to come. Wins against Arsenal (March), Chelsea (April), and Liverpool (May) were feathers in the Italian’s coaching cap, although Liverpool fielded a much-changed side with an eye on overturning a first leg deficit against Villarreal in the Europa League.
Liverpool will be free of any need to rotate on Saturday with a fierce determination to do far better than May’s 3-1 defeat at the Liberty Stadium. The international break can be a good time to appoint a new manager or head coach as Liverpool experienced last season, and a third league defeat in a row could spell the end for Guidolin’s first job in English football. A trip to Arsenal awaits after the international fixtures, underlining the difficulty ahead for a team just a point above the relegation zone.
Guidolin is a decent manager who can generally be trusted to play good football within a modest transfer and wage budget, but Jürgen Klopp’s players should try to take advantage of this situation to burden the Welsh club with another setback. Maybe names such as Chris Coleman or Bob Bradley will become Swansea’s fourth man in the dugout in 2016 instead of Ryan Giggs, but a heavy defeat could very well create a job vacancy in South Wales.