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Don't Fall in the Lava: Liverpool v. Swansea Preview

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Liverpool visit Swansea on Monday, their first midweek game of the season.

Swan-like moves
Swan-like moves
Clive Brunskill

Swansea City were handed a tough early season schedule, as they've already played and lost to Manchester United and Tottenham. Now they welcome the in-form Reds to Liberty Stadium, hoping to build upon their win over West Bromwich Albion. Record signing Wilfried Bony joins Michu and Pablo Hernandez to form a rather dangerous front line. Last season, Michu scored 18 league goals.

The two major story lines for this one are as cliché as it gets -- two teams with similar styles battle it out, and a manager faces his old side. Rodgers returns to a Swansea team that still plays his kind of possession football, holding the ball 55.3% of the time last year.

Last year, Liverpool beat Swansea 5-0 at Anfield and drew the away fixture. These score lines are exactly what I would expect, and we might see similar results between the two teams this year. Liverpool play the same game as Swansea but are better at it, and so the fixture at Anfield later this year could spell real trouble for the Swans. However, Liverpool will find it much tougher at the Liberty Stadium in this upcoming match, as Swansea will be more able to control possession at home. Possession was 50/50 last season at the Liberty Stadium, but 54/46 in favor of Liverpool at Anfield. Swansea had nearly 58% possession in all matches at home, so it will be difficult for Liverpool to boss the game as much as they'd like.

Swansea are a team not to be taken lightly, and their audacity can lead to nightmare days for unsuspecting opposition. Rodgers is fully aware of the danger though, and with Liverpool's recent run of play, the visiting Reds come in as heavy favorites. These games are why the EPL schedule is like a river of lava, and Liverpool will need to come to play if they want to stay on their raft.

Thoughts from the lads:

For Swansea, do they finally unleash Wilfried Bony and Michu together from the start? The international fixtures have hurt them more than most, and we've yet to really see a full dose of that potentially dynamic duo. (Matt)

Who starts at the back for Liverpool? Glen's out so I'm guessing we see Andre Wisdom at right back (perfectly fine with that by the way). In the center, I'd put money on Martin Skrtel keeping his place but if Toure's fully fit it'd be very harsh for him to lose his spot. Competition at the back? What club is this again? (Matt)

Don't forget about Sakho. He's the guy I expect will take over CB eventually, but I'm not sure if Rodgers is planning to start him right away. (loyal2reds)

I'll give you not one but two predictions: 1. Liverpool wins 3-1. Let's go...Sturridge, Coutinho, and the skipper in some order. 2. Jonjo Shelvey is sent off within the first 35 minutes. Brendan Rodgers then gives him a pick-me-up line in the post-game presser while wearing the confident smirk of a vindicated man. (Matt)

No predictions, guys... *mean look to Matt*. And I say Kolo and Aggs start at center-back, and maybe I'll go out on a limb and put Sakho on the left. (JAceKopite)

We never play well against Swansea. Our only win against them was a 5-0 and they had half their squad out. And I have no idea why everyone's picking on Shelvey. I think he'll be a force that needs to be stopped. If we can shut down their midfield, I think we've got a chance. (JAceKopite)