MX23RW : Wednesday, December 2 02:40:24| >> :120:7318:7318:
May 1, 2016 at 12pm UK at Liberty Stadium
Attendance: 20,972
SwanseaSwansea City
3-1
Liverpool
Ayew (20', 67'), Cork (33')
FT(HT: 2-0)
Benteke (65')

Preview: Swansea City vs. Liverpool

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Premier League clash between Swansea and Liverpool at the Liberty Stadium.

The final month of the season gets underway at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday when Swansea City host Liverpool in the first match of May.

The hosts go into the weekend with a healthy nine-point gap separating them from the relegation zone, while Liverpool are still looking to keep up the chase for a European place.


Swansea

Francesco Guidolin attempts to go unnoticed during the Premier League game between Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City on February 28, 2016© Getty Images

Swansea will go into the final month of the campaign with a very welcome lack of pressure on their shoulders.

The Swans found themselves in the bottom three when Francesco Guidolin was confirmed as manager in January, but they can breathe easily going into the final trio of matches this season knowing that safety is all but secured.

Their Premier League status would be mathematically guaranteed this weekend should Norwich City lose away to Arsenal on the Saturday and Swansea then pick up anything from this game on Sunday, but even if that doesn't happen it would take an unlikely set of results for them to be dragged back into the mire.

The mandate for the remainder of the season will be to finish as high as possible and, while a repeat of last season's eighth-placed finish is beyond their grasp, they do sit within striking distance of 11th, which would be some rescue job from Guidolin.

A cluster of six teams are separated by just two points in the bottom half of the table, so a strong end to what has been a largely disappointing campaign would salvage a respectable league position.

From a personal point of view, Guidolin has plenty left to fight for having made clear his desire to remain at the club beyond the end of the season, when his current deal expires.

The veteran Italian has done an admirable job since he was confirmed as manager, with just five defeats from his 14 games and six wins that include the scalps of Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton.

Despite that, the bookies still make Brendan Rodgers the favourite to return to the Liberty Stadium this summer, and the past two games will not have done Guidolin any favours in regards to extending his role with the club.

Since reaching the 40-point mark, the Swans have conceded seven times without reply in two games, falling to a 3-0 loss at the hands of struggling Newcastle United before a Jamie Vardy-less Leicester City took a huge step towards the title with a 4-0 win at the King Power Stadium last weekend.

Both of those defeats came away from home, though, and Swansea have won their last three matches at the Liberty Stadium without conceding a goal. Victory this weekend would see them record four on the bounce in the top flight for the first time since 1982, but they must take on Liverpool and Manchester City in their final two home games of the season.

An away trip to West Ham United is sandwiched between those, so it is by no means an easy end to the season for Guidolin to prove that he deserves to stay on.

Recent form: LWDWLL


Liverpool

James Milner reacts to the hosts' goal during the Europa League semi-final between Villarreal and Liverpool on April 28, 2016© AFP

Liverpool's priorities are clear over the closing stages of the season, and they lie away from the Premier League.

A top-four challenge has looked unlikely for some time, but last weekend's results saw another game go by and the gap stay at nine points - a big ask to overhaul with only four games of their season remaining.

Instead, the Reds must look to qualify for next season's Champions League via the Europa League, where they could potentially be just 90 minutes away from the final.

There is work to do when they welcome Villarreal to Anfield next Thursday, though, with the Spanish outfit having struck at the death in their first leg at El Madrigal to gain a slender advantage at the halfway stage of the tie.

It looked like being a professional away European job for the vast majority of the match as Liverpool kept Villarreal's danger men quiet, but a solitary defensive lapse deep into stoppage time allowed Denis Suarez to set up Adrian Lopez for the only goal of the game.

Belief will be high that they can overturn the one-goal deficit following their memorable comeback against Borussia Dortmund in the previous round, as well as the fact that they have scored 14 goals in their last four games at Anfield.

Indeed, while they may have drawn a blank in midweek, the goals have been flowing home and away for Liverpool in recent weeks, with the Reds having netted 12 times in their last four Premier League outings on the road.

Thursday's defeat ended a seven-match unbeaten streak in all competitions, but in the Premier League they have not lost any of their last five and have only been beaten once in 10 games since the start of February.

Their last league outing may have felt like a defeat having squandered a two-goal lead at home to relegation-threatened Newcastle, with Rafael Benitez earning what could prove to be a valuable point for the Magpies on his return to Anfield.

That result left Jurgen Klopp's side four points adrift of fifth-placed Manchester United, and with West Ham United also in the chase it will take a good end to the season if they are to guarantee European football next term as a safety net should they not win the Europa League.

After this match, Liverpool take on Watford and Chelsea in back-to-back home games before finishing their league campaign against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns.

Recent form: LDWWWD
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWDL


Team News

Daniel Sturridge celebrates his opener during the Premier League game between Liverpool and Newcastle United on April 23, 2016© AFP

Daniel Sturridge was once again left out for a big Liverpool game in midweek, but the striker is expected to return to the starting lineup this weekend.

Sturridge has scored four goals in as many Premier League starts against Swansea for Liverpool, while he has also netted in six of his last seven appearances in the top flight, including each of the last four.

Fit-again Christian Benteke was brought off the bench against Villarreal and is likely to be among the substitutes again, while Philippe Coutinho is a minor doubt having been taken off a half time in Spain due to illness.

Klopp is likely to make changes with one eye on the second leg, which could see the likes of Connor Randall, Kevin Stewart and Jordon Ibe come into the starting XI.

Mamadou Sakho will not play again this season following his ban for failing a drugs test, while Divock Origi, Jordan Henderson, Emre Can, Danny Ings and Joe Gomez all remain sidelined.

Swansea, meanwhile, could be without both Leroy Fer and Alberto Paloschi due to hamstring injuries, with the former being replaced by the latter at half time in last week's defeat to Leicester.

The likes of Jefferson Montero and Ki Sung-yueng were also brought off the bench in that match and will be pushing for a recall to the starting XI this weekend.

Swansea possible starting lineup:
Fabianski; Rangel, Fernandez, Williams, Taylor; Cork, Britton, Ki, Sigurdsson, Montero; Ayew

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Mignolet; Randall, Skrtel, Toure, Moreno; Stewart, Allen, Lucas; Ibe, Sturridge, Lallana


Head To Head

Liverpool have won each of the last five meetings between these two teams and are unbeaten against Swansea in eight, winning six and drawing two of those.

Swansea have only ever won this fixture once in the Premier League, with that victory coming at the Liberty Stadium in May 2013 when Danny Graham scored the only goal of the game.

The reverse fixture in November was decided by a James Milner penalty as he scored the only goal of the game at Anfield.


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We say: Swansea 0-2 Liverpool

Swansea seem to have taken their foot off the pedal since reaching the 40-point mark and, while Liverpool slipped up last weekend against Newcastle, that is not something that Klopp will allow his team to do. We fancy the visitors to pick up a victory heading into Thursday's second leg against Villarreal.


ID:271576:cQx

Who will win Sunday's Premier League clash between Swansea and Liverpool?

Swansea
Draw
Liverpool
Swansea
17.9%
Draw
14.3%
Liverpool
67.9%
84
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Daniel 'damn, back at it again with the white vans' Sturridge scores the third during the Premier League game between Liverpool and Everton on April 20, 2016
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