MX23RW : Wednesday, May 25 20:28:46| >> :120:9204:9204:
[monks data]
Jan 21, 2017 at 12.30pm UK at Anfield
Attendance: 53,169


Firmino (55', 69')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Llorente (48', 52'), Sigurdsson (74')

Preview: Liverpool vs. Swansea City

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League clash between title-chasing Liverpool and bottom-of-the-table Swansea City at Anfield.

Liverpool will be bidding for their first Premier League win of 2017 when they welcome Swansea City to Anfield in Saturday's early kickoff.

Victory for the Reds would see them climb back into second and temporarily close the gap on leaders Chelsea, while Swansea know that a surprise away win would lift them out of the relegation zone.


Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp watches on during his side's Premier League clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford on January 15, 2017© SilverHub

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will be keen to stress the importance of his side making a return to winning ways this weekend as they look to put pressure on the teams around them in the table.

The Reds have a rare chance to steal an early march on their title rivals, with victory closing the gap on Chelsea to four points - at least until the league leaders host Hull City on Sunday.

Even a draw would see Liverpool move back above Tottenham Hotspur into second place, but the hosts can ill afford to drop points against the league's bottom team with the majority of their fellow title rivals in fine form.

Chelsea, Spurs and Manchester United have all strung together impressive winning streaks in recent weeks, but Liverpool are still looking for their first league victory of the year having drawn with Sunderland and Manchester United so far.

The latter point will have been considered a satisfactory result despite leading for the majority of the match at Old Trafford, but nothing other than a win will do against the Swans - particularly with top-four rivals Tottenham and Manchester City playing each other later in the day.

Defeat is almost unthinkable for the Reds, but Klopp will be wary of the fact that their only two league losses so far have come at the hands of Burnley and Bournemouth - both teams who have been more impressive than Swansea this term but still matches Liverpool would have expected to win.

Just one of those defeats have come in Liverpool's last 19 league games, though, and neither has come at home. Indeed, Liverpool remain one of only two teams yet to taste defeat on home soil, with 23 points from a possible 27 gained at Anfield so far this season.

That unbeaten home streak stretches all the way back to January - a run of 17 league games and 25 across all competitions - and they have only failed to score twice in their 24 Premier League home outings with Klopp in charge, both of which came against Manchester United.

Indeed, even Liverpool's usually-questionable defensive record is good at Anfield, with only Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur having shipped fewer goals in front of their own fans this term.

This will be Liverpool's first league game at Anfield since beating Manchester City on New Year's Eve, and with Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal to come in their next three league outings on home soil, it is even more important that they return to winning ways.

Doing so would set a new club record of 48 points after 22 matches of a Premier League season and, considering that the Reds have been behind for a league-low 180 minutes throughout the entire campaign so far, Klopp will be confident of setting a new landmark and maintaining their title tilt.

Recent form: WWWWDD
Recent form (all competitions): WDDLDW


Paul Clement manager of Derby County looks on prior to the Sky Bet Championship match between Nottingham Forest and Derby County at City Ground on November 6, 2015© Getty Images

To say that Paul Clement has faced a tough start to his managerial career in the Premier League is something of an understatement, but the long-time assistant for Carlo Ancelotti is in the unenviable position of needing good results quickly.

Defeat to fellow strugglers Hull City in the FA Cup was a disappointing opening result for Clement, but he would not have lost too much sleep over it with a relegation battle to gear up for.

However, his Premier League debut as a manager could not have gone much worse, with Arsenal cruising to a 4-0 victory at the Liberty Stadium - helped by two own goals which aptly encapsulated the miserable situation the club find themselves in.

With Hull manager Marco Silva's reign getting off to a much better start with victory over Bournemouth, the weekend results left Swansea rooted to the bottom of the table following a run of five defeats in their last six league games.

Things do not get any easier in the coming weeks either, with Saturday's visit to the league's top scorers being followed by matches against Manchester City and Chelsea soon after. Indeed, Clement's first six league games in charge of Swansea see them face four of the current top five.

Not too many will be expecting them to get anything from those matches, particularly considering that their only wins since the opening day have come against teams currently in the bottom four, but on the flip side any positive result could act as a much-needed breath of life.

Should that come on Saturday then Swansea would climb out of the bottom three temporarily, with just one point separating them from Crystal Palace in the coveted 17th place.

Clement will not need telling that four teams into three positions leaves his side with unfavourable odds, particularly considering that they have the worst goal difference in the league and the second-worst defensive record at this stage of a season in Premier League history. Only Barnsley in 1997-98 have conceded more than the 49 Swansea have shipped after 21 games.

Swansea have won just one of their last 10 away games in all competitions too, losing eight of those, but the solitary victory did come in their most recent league outing on the road and a shock win at Anfield would give them consecutive away league triumphs for the first time since May 2015.

Recent form: LLLLWL
Recent form (all competitions): LLLWLL

Team News

Joel Matip in action for Liverpool on September 20, 2016© SilverHub

Confusion continues to reign over the eligibility of centre-back Joel Matip, with Klopp revealing in his pre-match press conference that he is yet to be given the green light by FIFA that would enable the Cameroonian to make his return.

Ragnar Klavan and Dejan Lovren are expected to continue their partnership at the heart of the defence as a result, but Liverpool could be boosted by the returns of Nathaniel Clyne and captain Jordan Henderson.

Sadio Mane remains out due to his involvement in the Africa Cup of Nations, but Philippe Coutinho is expected to make his first league start since November having played an hour in the midweek FA Cup win over Plymouth Argyle.

Swansea, meanwhile, could hand debuts to new signings Martin Olsson and Tom Carroll, but fellow January arrival Luciano Narsingh is unlikely to be involved due to a calf problem.

Neil Taylor, Jefferson Montero and Modou Barrow are also sidelined through injury, leaving Clement with limited options should he want to make changes from the rout at the hands of Arsenal.

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Milner; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Can; Coutinho, Firmino, Lallana

Swansea possible starting lineup:
Fabianski; Naughton, Fernandez, Mawson, Olsson; Fer, Cork, Ki, Sigurdsson, Routledge; Llorente

Head To Head

Liverpool have dominated this fixture in recent years, winning seven and losing just one of their last nine meetings with the Swans across all competitions.

Indeed, Swansea have never won a league match at Anfield in 15 previous attempts, losing 12 of those, with their only victories away to Liverpool coming in the 1964 FA Cup quarter-final and League Cup fourth round in October 2012.

The reverse fixture between the two sides saw Liverpool come from behind to win 2-1 at the Liberty Stadium, while a 1-0 triumph for the Reds in the corresponding fixture last term handed Klopp his first home league win as Liverpool boss.

James Milner scored a penalty in both of those matches, and he has never lost a Premier League game in which he has found the back of the net, equalling Darius Vassell's 46-match record during last weekend's draw with Manchester United.

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We say: Liverpool 3-0 Swansea

Teams can often find another level in the early days under a new manager, but that was not the case for Swansea against Arsenal and this weekend's match seems like an even more daunting task for the league's basement club. Liverpool need a win and it is hard to see anything other than Klopp's side running out victorious by a comfortable margin.

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Philippe Coutinho goes down injured during the Premier League game between Liverpool and Sunderland on November 26, 2016
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