By Matt Farr
Football Insider reveals three major talking points from Liverpool’s shock 3-2 defeat against Swansea in the Premier League on Saturday.
Reds would kill to have Sadio Mane back
Liverpool’s attack has been formidable for the most part of the season, but for large periods against Swansea it somewhat lacked the cutting edge. In the first-half, front trio Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana looked menacing in the final-third, but Swansea largely dealt with their efforts. Liverpool fashioned several chances in the first-period, but not one was registered on target. They soon found themselves chasing the game when the away side took a shock two-goal lead straight after the restart. Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge were both left out of the side following their involvements in the midweek cup clash with Plymouth, and Liverpool quickly turned to them. However, Sadio Mane would have been the man to make a real difference – like he has done for much of the campaign. Sadly, the Reds have been without Mane for their last four games in all competitions, during which time they’ve mustered just four goals. To add further insult to injury, Mane has netted twice for Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations. Roberto Firmino’s brace offered faint hope, but it was to no avail.
Defence not a pretty picture
If Liverpool want to win the Premier League title, they need to do something about their defence – again. They were fancied to record a comfortable victory on Saturday, given their home advantage, and Swansea’s position in the table. However, an inept display at the back once again proved to be a thorn in their side, with the Swans netting three goals to win the game. The Reds have now conceded 24 league goals this season – the second-highest total of any side in the top seven; while they have only six clean sheets in the league. Compare that to league leaders Chelsea, who have kept 12. Joel Matip’s return will be a bonus, but more changes will be needed. Estonia international Ragnar Klavan was particularly poor, and should be dropped.
The title race is not over yet
The defeat saw Liverpool hand league leaders Chelsea the perfect opportunity to extend their lead over the Reds to 10 points – if they beat Hull on Sunday. Jurgen Klopp’s side now have a lot of work to do if they are to regain their hold in the title race. But while Chelsea remain firm favourites to maintain their run and lift the title at the end of the season, there is still a lot to play for. Tottenham showed at the start of the month that Chelsea can be beaten, yet while it seems unlikely that the Blues will drop 10 points between now and the end of the campaign, there is a faint hope that Liverpool – or another side – can make up the deficit. Displays like the one against Swansea, however, will not be the way to do it. Liverpool simply cannot afford to slip up again, and they a win against Chelsea in their next Premier League game on January 31 will be the best way to start.
In other Liverpool news, here is how the players rated against Swansea.