Martin King explains why Liverpool deserves credit for beating Swansea City after falling behind in the first half.
Last week, Liverpool put five past Hull City in the Premier League in what was a dominant display at Anfield. The Reds followed that victory up with a 2-1 win away to Swansea City on Saturday, however, unlike after the Tigers’ mauling, fans and pundits weren’t necessarily showering Jürgen Klopp’s men with praise for their performance.
Instead, post-match talk was largely dominated by Liverpool’s much-discussed defensive issues. Roberto Firmino and James Milner may have led the Reds to victory with a goal each but before the duo netted, Liverpool conceded an early goal. It was probably one that sent the typical pessimist in many Reds fans into meltdown mode as it came from yet another bit of poor defending in a set-piece situation.
As The Mirror’s David Maddock later highlighted, “Since Klopp arrived, there is only one team in the Premier League who has conceded more from them [set-pieces] in the Premier League – Swansea!” Adding to that, the fact that the visitors were largely toothless in attack, recording no shots on target in the first half, and supporters may be slightly forgiven for feeling more cautious than care-free.
However, it remains fair to say that Liverpool still deserves plenty of credit for their performance as they displayed the never-say-die attitude that manager Klopp initially called for in his first few months in charge.
The German celebrates his first year at Anfield in just six days and amongst some of his best works to be celebrated on the day will be his instilling of self-belief within the squad. It may have initially taken a while to kick in but the Merseysiders displayed that self-belief at the Liberty Stadium.
For the entire first half and a number of periods in the second, Swansea desperately threw everything in the way of Liverpool’s attacks in an attempt to frustrate their opponents and earn only their second win of the season.
It wasn’t much different to the defensive performance that Burnley put in against Klopp’s men in the second league match of the season. On this occasion, however, Liverpool’s attitude was different – they persistently searched for both equalizer and winner without discouragement – and this, along with the faithful support of the travelling Kopites, played a pivotal role in their comeback victory, as their quality eventually shone through.
Klopp spoke to reporters following his side’s victory and a few of his words stood out for me:
“We were angry at half-time, but with ourselves, nobody else. So we had to show we can do better because [up to that point] nobody could see why we were here,” he said, according to Liverpool’s official website.
That anger towards themselves is the sort of attitude the Reds have lacked in game situations that are not in their favour – i.e. Burnley two, Liverpool nil at half-time – instead falling short due to a frail-looking mentality.
Back to the defensive issues.
This is not an encouragement for supporters, pundits or even the team itself to overlook the problem. Instead, we can all take hope in the fact that Klopp is admittedly aware of it and the 49-year-old, along with his squad are working towards solving it – surely we weren’t expecting spot-on perfection from the squad, were we?
For now, giving credit to the side for overcoming a stern challenge should be the main focus, ahead of what we all hope will be a much better performance, against none other than Manchester United.