Swansea host Liverpool on Monday night, and Mike Norman believes that Brendan Rodgers’ in-form Reds will be too good for an inconsistent Swansea side…
Swansea v Liverpool
Live on Sky Sports 1
Sitting comfortably in mid-table with virtually no chance of qualifying for Europe (10 points behind sixth-place Tottenham) Swansea have nothing to play for other than to accumulate as many points as possible.
That should mean a relaxed side playing with very little pressure, but you can argue that a comfortable mid-table finish without a chance of qualifying for Europe has been on the cards for Swansea for almost two months now, and yet their form still remains very mixed.
Garry Monk‘s men have won three, drawn three, and lost three of their last nine Premier League matches (you can’t get any more mixed than that!) and on home soil their last three results sums-up their inconsistent performances in a nutshell – a 0-5 thrashing against Chelsea, a 1-1 draw v lowly Sunderland, and a terrific 2-1 win over Manchester United.
Monk has got a fully fit squad to choose from for the visit of in-form Liverpool with Bafetimbi Gomis, who fainted against Tottenham last time, reported fit and raring to go.
Former Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers has had the luxury of having a full week to prepare for a game for the first time in two months. Thanks to League Cup and Europa League action the Reds had been playing weekend/midweek for eight consecutive weeks, a total of 15 games in that time – amazingly, Swansea have played just eight times in the same period (from the 17th January).
But despite that examining run of fixtures Liverpool have emerged from it with just one loss in regulation play (a 1-0 reversal at Besiktas), and from their last 11 outings their record reads W8, D2, L1, including four straight Premier League wins. They are undoubtedly one of the form sides in the top division.
Fatigue perhaps played a factor in Liverpool’s disappointing goalless draw at home to Blackburn in the FA Cup last Sunday, but with pivotal league games against Manchester United and Arsenal to come, Rodgers will be going all out for the win at the Liberty Stadium as he hopes to increase his chances of a top four finish.
Steven Gerrard is back in contention to start after missing the last seven games with a hamstring injury, and defenders Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho are also expected to be fit. In fact, barring the absence of Joe Allen, Rodgers virtually has all of his ‘main squad’ available.
The market has this about right, though if I’m being honest I expected to see Liverpool a tad shorter than the 2.111/10; not necessarily because they should be, but because an in-form Reds side are quite often overrated in various betting markets.
I’m happy with the 2.111/10 though, I believe that’s a very fair price given the form Rodgers’ men are in, the fact that they’ve had a bit of a rest recently, and that they have a strong squad – including a very fresh Daniel Sturridge – to choose from. And let us not forget that three of their last four league wins have been against top-seven sides Southampton, Man City, and Tottenham.
Swansea are 4.216/5 to win the game but they’re too inconsistent for them to be of interest. They’re capable of producing excellent performances of course, but poor displays – like the ones at home to Chelsea and Sunderland recently – are perhaps more common from Monk’s men.
The draw – available to back at 3.55n/a – would be a player if Liverpool underperformed, but the Swans would need to be right at the top of their game to record the win and I don’t envisage that happening.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Under 2.5 Goals is the favourite in this market at 1.910/11 and that’s understandable given that Liverpool have keep five consecutive clean sheets away from home in the league for the first time since 1985.
The only concern I have with such a stat is that it has to come to an end, and usually sooner rather than later. So if you believe Swansea will get on the scoresheet – and I believe that has a good chance of happening – but Rodgers will still get a win against his old employers, then backing Over 2.5 Goals at 2.0811/10 is the way to play.
Admittedly the Welsh outfit aren’t renowned for scoring lots of goals but they did get two at Tottenham last week and two in their last home game against Man United. The atmosphere will be fantastic on Monday night, and hopefully Monk’s men will be good enough for a goal with the home support.
If at the start of the season Liverpool fans could have predicted that they won’t win the Premier League but they’ll finish top four, then hitting top form with just a few months remaining and having Sturridge fresh as a daisy, would have been the perfect plan.
That’s how it’s now beginning to pan out and I’m expecting the Liverpool hitman to be a pivotal player from now until the end of the season. Sturridge has scored four goals against Swansea in his three appearances for Liverpool, and I’m backing him to make it at least five in four appearances on Monday night.
Back Liverpool to Win @ 2.111/10
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.0811/10
Back Daniel Sturridge To Score @ 2.3411/8
Mike’s 2014/15 Individual Match P/L