With Liverpool absolutely flying and Swansea City in a bit of a crisis, the Reds will be looking for only one result when they visit the Liberty Stadium for an early kick-off tomorrow. Now, maybe they shouldn’t be expecting the kind of results we’re starting to become accustomed to, but at this point, anything but a victory will feel like a major let down.
It’s been four very convincing wins on the hop for Jurgen Klopp’s side with reigning champions Leicester City, perennial sticks in the mud Chelsea, Championship outfit Derby County and newly promoted Hull City all outworked and over run by the Anfield outfit. Forcing their way in to the top four, Liverpool look well poised going in to the International Break, but with a meeting with Manchester United waiting for them at the other end, keeping that momentum going will be all important.
To be frank, that isn’t to say that we will — our inconsistencies may be looking like they’ve been addressed, but form is a funny thing that can take a turn for the worse when you least expect it and the Swans, of course, look like a side ripe to upset ours. Despite sitting just above the relegation zone, Francesco Guidolin’s side remain a tough nut to crack and he’s be even more determined to get out of this one with some sort of a result knowing full well that his job is hanging in the balance.
“It could happen,” said the Italian manager when asked if this could be his last game in charge. “Maybe. It’s not easy [to beat Liverpool]. But if we win for the period of the international break you don’t speak any more about my position,” continued the former Parma and Udinese coach. “But my position is not important, Swansea’s position is important, and we must get a result.”
Guidolin will need to make a late decision on defender Federico Fernandez who is currently nursing a groin problem, but he’ll definitely be without Nathan Dyer as the winger continues his recovery from a ankle injury. Fernando Llorente, who arrived in Wales during the summer, is expected to be leading the line on Saturday after picking up his first Premier League goal against Manchester City last weekend and he’ll be looking for the likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jack Cork to make sure that he has a chance to add to that tally against the Reds.
Without a clean sheet in the league this season, that will be a distinct possibility. Liverpool ‘keeper Loris Karius should start between the sticks as Klopp keeps an eye on their new shot-stopper before making a decision — at least publicly — that he’ll replace Simon Mignolet as their preferred option in net. The German hasn’t had much to do over the past two matches and frankly it wouldn’t be a massive disappointment if that trend continued at the Liberty Stadium. Dejan Lovren is expected to replace Ragnar Klavan, who opened the scoring against the Rams and made his home debut against the Tigers last week, but the rest of the side should look exactly like the one that ran out 5-1 winners against Hull.
“They are all involved all the time, that’s how it is,” said Klopp, talking about keeping both focus and fitness on point. “Every player is important for this and every player is involved. I don’t say this to keep them cool and calm – it is the truth. If we stop working hard on this part of the game then we cannot make the next step that we 100 per cent have to do,” added the Reds boss. “With starting line-ups we always talk about the present, the moment, but we all have to be ready for anything that can happen in the next two or three weeks. It is very important they are all in very good shape and that’s how it is in this moment.”
Although the German manager has taken up his usual pragmatic position of every match being a tough one and worrying more about preparing for the team you’re going to face rather than the expectations that are put on your opposition based solely on their name, even he’d be remiss not to admit that this one is completely winnable. At the moment, this is a team that’s looking strong in every facet of their game and in a sharp contrast to years gone by, we’re not a side that will fall apart if one of our regulars drops out of the starting eleven or picks up an injury. That’s a really good feeling — and one that should still be there come Saturday evening.