Liverpool win heaps pressure on Garry Monk

Liverpool 1 Swansea 0: How Garry Monk must wish he could turn the clock back three months. Swansea’s manager ended August with a victory over Manchester United that lifted his team into the Premier League’s top four. He ends November barely clinging to his job.

Liverpool win heaps pressure on Garry Monk

The 36-year-old is learning the hard way just what an unforgiving world football management can be. He could, and did, argue that his team were unlucky to lose at Anfield to a Liverpool side who were far from convincing themselves.

There is no doubt that Swansea were disciplined and determined as they tried in vain to end a run that has seen them drop from the top four towards the bottom three.

However, for all that spirit, Monk’s team did not manage a single shot on target in 90 minutes. They have now won just one of their last 10 league matches. The club’s board are unlikely to allow this kind of form to continue for much longer, and Monk knows it.

“It’s my responsibility to get results,” he said. “I understand that. And you can’t continue to not get points.

“But when you look at the players we have and the way we’ve worked over my 20 months in charge, you can see it’s only a matter of time before it starts to turn for us.”

Monk’s assertion that his team put in a “complete performance” at Anfield seemed to be exaggerating the point somewhat. Swansea, though, certainly made life difficult for a Liverpool side who once again looked nervous on their own turf.

Jurgen Klopp’s attempts to introduce a high-tempo pressing game have yielded some thrilling away performances and results during his six weeks in charge to date, as Chelsea and Manchester City will testify.

At home, however, they have just not been the same. They suffer from Anfield anxiety. Steven Gerrard and Kevin Keegan, two of the club’s most feted former players, watched on from the sidelines, while many in the ground might have wished they were still capable of providing inspiration on the pitch.

Liverpool failed to muster a shot on target of their own in the opening 45 minutes, as passes went astray and pressure came to nothing. A fierce wind did not help, but nerves most certainly played a part.

The closest they came to a first-half goal was when Swansea defender Kyle Bartley turned the ball against his own post while trying to tackle Jordon Ibe. The visitors’ defending was generally less panicky after that, as they settled in to try to frustrate their opponents.

For a long time, it worked. Christian Benteke took a loose first touch when he latched onto Adam Lallana’s through pass, and Ibe lost his footing when well placed to control and score from Alberto Moreno’s left-wing cross.

Swansea captain Ashley Williams survived a penalty appeal as he tangled with Benteke inside the area, but then made a brilliant block to deny Lallana.

Early in the second half, Ibe had a shot turned round the post by ‘keeper Lukasz Fabianski, but the tension at Anfield was growing when the breakthrough came. Swansea left-back Neil Taylor was judged to have handled Ibe’s cross as he turned away from the ball with his arm in the air. James Milner lifted the penalty above Fabianski and into the net. Liverpool had to survive a few nervous moments after that, but did so to claim a place in the Premier League’s top six.

As an added bonus, Klopp was also able to welcome back Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge from injury.

Captain Henderson, out since August after suffering two foot injuries, and Sturridge, who rarely seems to be out of the treatment room these days, both made substitute appearances after Milner struck with just under half an hour to go.

Klopp, amid his relief at securing victory and bringing back two key players, still had time to find words of sympathy for Monk.

“Nothing much in football surprises me to be honest,” the Liverpool manager said. “But I would say I’d be surprised if it is the right decision to criticise him because his team plays very well.

“They showed a good reaction against us following their recent results.

“I’m not sure what level Swansea wanted to reach before the season started but for this team I see no problem in the league. They will play a good role over the remainder of the season, I’m sure.”

If he is to stay in a job, Monk must hope that Klopp is right.

Liverpool (4-2-3-1):

Mignolet 6; Clyne 6, Skrtel 7, Lovren 7, Moreno 6; Milner 7, Can 6; Ibe 6 (Toure 90), Firmino 5 (Henderson 64, 6), Lallana 6; Benteke 5 (Sturridge 71, 6).

Subs:

Bogdan, Toure, Allen, Randall, Origi.

Swansea (4-2-3-1):

Fabianski 6; Naughton 6, Bartley 6, Williams 7, Taylor 6; Ki 6, Britton 6 (Cork 65 6); Ayew 5, Sigurdsson 6, Routledge 5 (Montero 72, 7); Eder 5 (Gomis 69, 6).

Subs:

Nordfeldt, Rangel, Fernandez, Grimes.

Referee:

Anthony Taylor, 6.

Attendance:

43,905.

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