Liverpool entertain Swansea in their final game of the calendar year. The Reds will be hoping to end their season on a high after a disappointing campaign till now. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers comes up against his former side in Swansea. The Scotsman having helped the Welsh side to a promotion in 2011, left in the consequent summer to manage the Mersysiders.

While The Reds’ season has been disappointing, The Swans have enjoyed a decent start to the campaign lying 8th in the table and a place above their Monday’s opponents. Former player Garry Monk has found his feet running as a manager with the side he spent a decade with as a player.

Despite the aforementioned contrasting starts to their respective seasons, both the teams were victorious in their previous games. Liverpool grinded out a victory against a well organized Burnley, with Raheem Sterling popping up with the winner just after the hour mark. Swansea on the other hand had to thank Gylfi Sigurdsson as the Icelander’s brilliant free kick ensured all three points against Aston Villa.

Team News :
Brendan Rodgers has opted for a false nine system in Liverpool’s last three Premier League fixtures, and are expected to start in the same fashion.

On the injury front, The Reds will be without defenders Dejan Lovren, Glen Johnson and Jon Flanagan, and also goalkeeper Brad Jones who suffered a thigh injury against Burnley. He will be replaced by Simon Mignolet. Fabio Borini returns to the fray after his dismissal against Arsenal, but is not expected to start.

Swansea on the contrast have no suspensions and injuries to deal with bar the absence of Jefferson Montero. The Ecuadorian winger had to be
replaced by Wayne Routledge due to a hamstring injury.

Key Battles :
Gylfi Sigurdsson vs Steven Gerrard The Liverpool captain comes against one of Premier League’s best midfielders. The summer arrival from Tottenham has now scored three goals and further setting up eight, and will be the one to be kept at bay to get a favorable result.

Wilfried Bony vs Martin Skrtel
Swansea’s top scorer Wilfried Bony will look to build on his tally of eight for the season. The Ivorian is also the Premier League’s highest scorer in 2014 with 20 goals. 

Philippe Coutinho vs Jonjo Shelvey
After a poor personal start to the season along with the team, Coutinho has slowly started to emulate the same form that made him a favourite amongst the supporters. He will be against former Liverpool youngster in Shelvey, who himself has scored in each of the two previous encounters against his former employees. This will an intriguing battle and a one to be watched out.

Opta stats :

•After just one goal being scored in the first three Barclays Premier League games between Swansea and Liverpool, there have been 16in the last three.

•There have been three goals scored in the opening five minutes of the last two league meetings between these two teams.

•Last season’s 3-4 defeat is the highest scoring away match that Swansea have been involved in away from home since they reached
the Premier League (seven goals).

•Wilfried Bony has scored the first goal of the game in three of his last four starts away from home for Swansea.

Quotes :

Brendan Rodgers :
The Liverpool manager acknowledge d the threat posed by the Welsh side, but was confident about his team. He said,“They are all difficult challenges, like you saw yesterday at Burnley. It’s a very difficult game. I know Swansea very well. We had a very good performance against them in the cup earlier on in the season, at home. 

We know it will be a tough match. But our performance levels have been getting better. The spirit and mentality in the team is still strong.
This is a really difficult period of games in a short space of time, so we’ll look to go and put in a performance that hopefully merits the three points.”

Garry Monk :
Monk also was confident like the opponent manager, at the same time reserving praise for him. “Liverpool have had a difficult start to the season, but Brendan has made changes and they’re becoming a very good team again. He’s one of the most mentally strong people I know. He’s been through a difficult period, but now he’s producing good results and the team are playing a lot better. It will be a difficult game, but Anfield is a great place to play football. We have to take belief there. We should go into the game with confidence. We didn’t deserve to lose the game in the Capital One Cup against them. But knowing we can go up there and perform like that gives us belief. Every game this season, barring a few minutes in each, we’ve been fantastic. We’re getting good results, which is all credit to the staff and the players. But we always strive for more. It’s been a great start, but we can’t get carried away. 28 points at this stage of the season is the best start we’ve had, but football can change very quickly. A couple of bad results and you start thinking differently. We have an understanding of what is expected of us.”

Possible line-ups :
Liverpool : (3-4-3) : Mignolet; Can, Skrtel, Sakho; Manquillo, Henderson, Lucas, Moreno; Coutinho, Lallana, Sterling

Swansea : (4-2-3-1) : Fabianski; Rangel, Fernandez, Williams, Taylor; Shelvey, Ki; Dyer, Sigurdsson, Routledge; Bony.

Prediction :
Despite Swansea’s brilliant form and results, Liverpool might just grind out a win against them. Rodgers’ record against his former club helps the cause.
2-1

Image Courtesy: Sportsgiri.com

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