Up next for Liverpool on Monday is Swansea. We will be in high spirits after that win against City, while Swansea got a bit of a confidence boost themselves after advancing in the FA Cup after beating Wolves. With Swansea having appointed a new coach fairly recently, it will be a bit harder than normal to figure out how they might play because of the small sample size.
With that being said, it should be noted that Swansea has scored the least amount of goals out of any team this season. Salah alone has more goals than Swansea so far in the league. Defensively however, they are fairly solid. Not anything to go crazy about, but not that bad either. It appears that Swansea have come out with a few different formations under Carlos Carvalhal, so it will be interesting to see how they come out on Monday.
Of course we should never underestimate any opponent, but in this game we should be able to impose ourselves, make them change based on how we plan on playing. In my opinion we should line up in our standard 4-3-3 with Mignolet; Robertson, Matip, Lovren, Gomez; Wijnaldum, Can, Lallana; Mane, Solanke, Salah. I do not think you could go wrong with the Ox or Firmino starting either.
For us, because they are fairly solid defensively, I say we do everything we can to not let them get in a defensive shape. What I mean is that we press high in a 4-3-3 shape, and frankly for most of the game operate in a relatively high block. If we win the ball high then we can, through qualitative superiority, overwhelm them. Because it is so hard to go the full match with 100% intensity when going with a high block, it is best to pick and choose when to truly win the ball back. Press high, but only press intensely in certain situations so as to not exhaust all energy. Meaning, we bait them to pass in certain areas of the pitch and when they do, try to win the ball from there. With the 4-3-3, you can have the midfield 3 and our center forward swarm the player in the middle of the field with the ball, whoever it is. The reason I think we should win it in the middle of the field is because we would then have access to both half spaces. In these half spaces are where Mane and Salah are best in transition. It also means we would be a bit unpredictable. We could go either side of the field, and Swansea will be in trouble either way. Since we ideally win the ball fairly high up the field, a simple through ball will suffice to spring through Salah and Mane.
Offensively we can afford to take risks simply because of Swansea’s troubles scoring. Lallana is a great player who is not afraid to take risks either dribbling or passing, so if we ever see Swansea in a deep block, space in the middle for him to operate could be ideal. This can be done by having Salah and Mane high and wide to occupy the opponents fullbacks, and our fullbacks can stay wide as well in hopes that Swansea’s outside midfielders will keep an eye on them. This should leave room for Lallana and our other midfielders to operate and control the game. Should we lose it, our gegenpressing will be able to deal with any counter they may have.
Overall I think we will see a victory, and possibly even a clean sheet.