Saturday 20th January 12.30
In simple terms, this match can be boiled down to the team with the most prolific attack taking on the team with the leakiest defence. Read like that, it seems like an equation whose outcome should be easily worked out – Liverpool to win. But, according to the mandarins at Sky and BT, the BPL is the most exciting league in the world so perhaps we should be less cavalier in our pronouncement and allow for the idea that a shock result might actually happen.
President Trump = Anything is Possible
Well of course it could. It is for that reason that the term ‘puncher’s chance’ has transcended the art of pugilism to encapsulate any situation where a 100% outcome cannot be guaranteed in advance of the event. Sure, this column may end up writing from a sunny island at a rate of $100 dollars a word at some point in the future but would you bet on that happening?! We certainly wouldn’t but the point is, as awful as Swansea have been this season, they stand a chance of wrecking Liverpool’s head and leaving Anfield with a point or three in their pocket.
Reason(s) for hope
But how? It probably won’t be from them suddenly flicking a switch and beginning to pose a threat such as they did just over a year ago when they beat Liverpool 3-1. In all likelihood, it would be as a result of some slapstick Liverpool defending. The Joel Matip saga continues to rumble on and in his absence, Liverpool’s defence is far from assured. Clever team or individual play can flummox their slightly hapless centre-backs and Gylfi Sigurdsson has all the necessary skills to do the necessary in that regard.
Unfortunately for the Swans, that’s probably as much as can be said for their faint hopes. Whilst it’s true that neither Dejan Louvren or Ragnar Klavan exude calm authority, Liverpool have managed to keep it tight at the back of late, having conceded only six goals in their last 10 games across all competitions. It’s up top that they have been suffering where their free-flowing attack has been undermined by the absence of Philipe Coutinho through injury (although he has played some minutes in their last two matches) and Sadio Mane to international duty in the African Cup of Nations.
In many ways, this is exactly the kind of match that Liverpool require. They have been missing much of their verve and speed in recent games and could do with a restorative and faith-reigniting win. Traditionally, they have been suspect against weaker teams, a misplaced sense of corporate social responsibility allowing many teams get away with a draw when really they should have been beaten out the gate. One suspects that this unlikely to happen here, though. The best price for a Liverpool win is 1/4 and comes from StanJames.