Thursday, 1 November 2012

Liverpool v Swansea (League Cup)

After Sunday's draw in the Merseyside Derby with Everton, Liverpool moved on to continuing the defence of the League Cup or Capital One Cup as it is now known with a home tie against Rodgers' former team Swansea City.

Surprisingly, Rodgers put out an eleven that no one would have predicted with Joe Cole and Samed Yesil surprise starters and Sterling, Suso, Gerrard and Suarez all on the bench.

Liverpool started well and created the first opening on nine minutes as Yesil advanced towards the goal only to be denied by a well-timed slide by Ashley Williams who was soon involved at the other end with his cross setting up Nathan Dyer before Dyer could strike Jones gathered the ball.

Swansea piled the pressure on through Ki-Sung Yeung with a 20-yard chance which saw Jones scrambling to keep it out. In the 25th minute, Hernandez and Michu carved open the home defence and a trademark last-ditch tackle from stalwart Jamie Carragher prevented the shot which would have been right at the goal.

The Swansea threat meant Liverpool had to improve and improve they did as Downing's grass trimmer of a shot from range saw Tremmel in the Swansea goal turn it past the post. Liverpool were nearly undone as Jonathan De Guzman blew a beauty of a chance after attempting a lob over the onrushing Brad Jones but only found the roof of the net after a well structured counter attack.

The deadlock was broken in the 34th minute but unfortunately for the Anfield faithful it was the away side that opened the scoring as Jones pushed Yeung's shot out for a corner, the resulting corner found the head of Chico Flores, who had bested the home defence and powered a header into the corner and silence the home fans.

Liverpool came close to an instant levelling but Cole failed to connect with a header from Assiadi's setup and Tremmel gathered easily and Swansea lead 1-0 into the half time interval.

Just like on Sunday, Rodgers made a double substitution at the break with talisman's Suarez and Gerrard entering the fray for the departing Yesil and Cole.

Liverpool powered for an equaliser as Shelvey evaded two challenges before hitting his shot over the bar and he then put in Suarez with a scintillaitng cross but Suarez's header was off target.

In the 64th minute, Liverpool went even closer as Gerrard's screamer from range pinged off the base of the post to fall for Downing but the winger could not convert and Liverpool were still behind leading to the entry of Sterling for Assaidi.

Fortune shone on Liverpool though as Swansea pushed for a second as a goalmouth scramble ensued and Carragher and Jones combined skills to kept the Swans out. Liverpool pushed again and in a cramped area Shelvey, Suarez, Carragher and Coates all fell short of scoring the leveller.

This proved to be a costly as Swansea broke forward on the counter and Hernandez flew in a cross which was tapped in by the inbound Dyer to put Swansea 2-0 up and leave Liverpool needing an Arsenal-esque comeback to keep their cup hopes realistic.

The comeback began with a sumptuous header from Luis Suarez from a stylish Gerrard free-kick with 13 minutes left of the tie. However the comeback hopes were dashed in the final minutes as Swansea sealed victory and a 5th round passage with the carving of the defence which left Jonathan De Guzman with an easy tap in.

Gutting for the home fans that the defence of the trophy only lasted two rounds but some encouragement from the youth getting some more experience on the big stage and as I write this evening, Liverpool's exit is not the only major upset as Man Utd and Tottenham have also bowed out with away losses to Chelsea (5-4 AET) and Norwich (2-1).

Liverpool now must try to forget the defeat and move on to what some believe is a massive game on Sunday at home to Newcastle. The famous 4-3's of old will always linger in the memory but more recently we have seen a 5-0 Liverpool win and Pardew's first game in charge of the Magpies saw him swoop past Liverpool 3-1. The last encounter saw a Reds win by 3-1 last season. Personally, I see the main focuses being on Ba and Suarez as both have hit top form in the scoring charts this season.

Ah well, on to Sunday and hopefully a win to propel us into the top half of the table.