Profligate Pool still playing catch-up

Swansea City 0 Liverpool 0
A tale of the offside goal and too many goalscoring opportunities to mention.

However, it was very much a case of unlucky 13 for Brendan Rodgers who was left to lament another opportunity missed.

A good point for Swansea, but with more than a third of the season gone, Liverpool remain outside the top 10.

There is little doubt the finger will point, once again, at the side’s inability to convert a stream of chances into goals. After all, the stats make for pretty difficult reading. In this game alone, they had 21 shots, 14 of which were on target.

After 13 games, Rodgers’ side have scored only 17 league goals. Only West Ham, of the sides above them, have scored less.

Rodgers, for whom this was meant to be the happy homecoming, had mixed feelings about his day. He was understandably miffed that Jose Enrique’s first half goal was ruled out for offside. He was equally frustrated at his side’s lack of composure in front of goal. The visitors even wasted a two-on-one situation in the final quarter when Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez combined to butcher a golden chance to secure all three points.

“It was a very good game, we played really, really well and created chances. I thought we were unfortunate with the offside goal we had ruled out. That was a goal, I have seen it on the replay.

“I thought Suarez was bright and a threat, but we had plenty shots on target and failed to score. We need to finish them. The difference is that little bit of quality and that’s something we will look to improve on.”

A lack of goals was just about the only ingredient that was lacking in a game that oozed quality. Both sides played with purpose and passion, with Swansea’s Leon Britton and Pablo Hernandez and Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard and Jose Enrique outstanding throughout. Gerrard, whose performance was bettered only by that of England full back Glen Johnson, was all but untouchable in a first half when both sides could, and perhaps should, have broken the deadlock.

Sterling struck the woodwork in the 32nd minute, before Swansea goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel denied Johnson with a wonderful save. Johnson exchanged passes with Suarez after more excellent work from his captain Gerrard, former Swansea favourite Joe Allen and the Enrique.

At the opposite end, Swansea were equally creative. Pablo Hernandez, who improves with every game, was twice denied by Pepe Reina who also kept out Michu’s second half header as Swansea threatened to repeat their victory on the final day of last season.

That was Rodgers’ last game in charge of Swansea – his departure leaving Michael Laudrup to continue the good work that Rodgers, Paolo Sousa and Roberto Martinez started.

The Dane, whose side had beaten Liverpool 3-1 in Capital One Cup, was understandably happy with his side’s 17th point of the season and a first clean sheet August 25th.

“It was a good point,” said Laudrup. “In the first half they had more chances than us, but we had chances too and I’m pleased with the performance.

“You know that when you play against Suarez and Gerrard, they are capable of inventing something, but I thought we handled it well.”

Considering the week leading into the game had been dominated by Rodgers’ homecoming and the suggestion that Swansea captain Ashley Williams would refuse to shake the hand of Suarez, for whom he has precious little time, according to his book, the pre-match build up passed without incident. However, when referee Jon Moss blew his first whistle, there was barely a moment’s respite as the two sides produced an exhibition of football that left a crowd of just over 20,000 on the edge of their seats.

All that was missing, as far as the contest was concerned, was the goals. Laudrup said; “There has been a lot of talk about Suarez and Ashley and today we saw two guys trying to do their best.”

Suarez was lively throughout but left empty-handed courtesy of Tremmel and one or two moments that were less than polished. Still, if both sides continue playing like this, living outside of the top 10 might be a temporary rather than permanent measure.

Swansea City (4-5-1): Tremmel 7; Rangel 6, Williams 7, Flores 7, Davies 6; Hernandez 7, Britton 7, Routledge 6, De Guzman 7, Michu 6 Shechter 5.

Subs: Dyer (6,67), Ki (6,46), Agustien (5,83).

Liverpool (4-5-1): Reina 7; Johnson 8, Skrtel 7, Agger 7, Downing 6; Sterling 7, Henderson 5, Gerrard 7, Allen 6, Enrique 7, Suarez 6.

Subs: Cole (5, 77), Shelvey (5,77).

Referee: Jon Moss

Attendance: 20,621.

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