Any match involving Jonjo Shelvey is bound to be weird, and this one was very much on the strange side of things as Shelvey had an appearance in every one of the four goals scored. Though Liverpool scored twice, it was not the prettiest match for the attack with Swansea dominating the second half. However, a point on the road in a fixture that I predicted would cause some problems isn't the end of the world, and if we're calling an action packed 2-2 thriller one of our "clunker" matches, then this season will be very fun.
The strangeness began even before the opening whistle with Daniel Agger not in the lineup due to a freak training injury. With Andre Wisdom already playing right back in the absence of Glen Johnson, Liverpool were forced to put Sakho and Skrtel together in the central defense. I was more worried about how Skrtel would play without the comfort of Agger, but it turned out being Sakho who had more trouble defending. The former PSG captain was caught flat footed by Jonjo Shelvey in the second minute on the edge of the box, and an admirable lunging Skrtel block of Shelvey's initial shot was for naught as Jonjo curled in the rebound to make it 1-0.
Everyone had been saying that Shelvey would have a say in the result, but I doubt anybody could see the extent to which that would prove correct. Just two minutes after stunning Liverpool with an opening goal, Shelvey passed backwards towards Vorm without looking, and a pressuring Daniel Sturridge came up with the interception. On a first time hit, Sturridge bent the ball around a helpless Vorm to equalize at 1-1. It was four minutes in and there were already two goals, the last of which had Shelvey holding his head in hands.
It was Liverpool who seized the game after equalizing. A lively Coutinho pinballed passes into dangerous positions, and the attack seemed to have real purpose. Possession was 60-40 in favor of Liverpool after 17 minutes. Swansea repeatedly showed signs of hanging around though, making Mignolet work hard on several occasions.
Victor Moses, making his debut, looked brilliant in the first half. He was faster than I had anticipated and showed tremendous dribbling ability. In the 24th minute, he found himself stuck by the corner flag until he evaded two defenders and lobbed a perfect ball in to Sturridge whose header was barely denied by Vorm. Shortly before halftime it was Moses again terrorizing Swansea. The Nigerian international latched onto a poor Shelvey pass in the center of the pitch, dribbled all the way to the Swansea box, and drilled a low shot into the near post side of the net, making it 2-1 Liverpool. The score would remain that way until the half, but only after a heroic bit of play from Martin Skrtel. With Bony about to equalize into an open net, Skrtel stopped the ball at point blank range with an incredible last ditch challenge.
The second half was all Swansea unfortunately. Liverpool lost their grip on the game and were eventually made to pay in the 64th minute when Jonjo Shelvey headed it onto Michu who cooly pulled the game to 2-2 with a solid finish. The turning point of the match was when Coutinho had to be taken off in the 54th with a shoulder injury. Without their string puller, Liverpool lost their attacking purpose and their grip on possession, the need to get Suarez back becoming glaringly apparent.
The final 26 minutes were dull for a Liverpool team that couldn't create any late chances whatsoever. In fact it was a Swansea free kick that proved the most likely to be a winner, but Mingolet was alert to the danger. Liverpool held on for a 2-2 draw that left them slightly disappointed despite being top of the table after four matches.
To the bullets:
-Aspas was terrible. Really, really bad.
-This match won't decide the season for Liverpool, and there isn't any shame in drawing at Swansea.
-Brilliant start in red for Moses, mediocre start for Sakho.
-Skrtel was amazing.
-Sterling isn't looking that great off the bench. Not bad exactly, but he might be better served getting a start every once in awhile.
-Gerrard and Lucas didn't pressure Swansea enough which was a big factor in the Swans' second half domination. Give them room to knock it around and Swansea will make you pay.