Liverpool kept their winning run going without reaching the heights of previous performances against a spirited but rapidly fading Swansea side. Roberto Firmino made it 1-1 before James Milner’s late penalty sealed a 2-1 victory.
“Playing badly but still winning” might be a much-used motto for any team that wants to challenge for the title, but it fits snugly with this performance, one in which the visitors really showed up only for the second half.
There were very early signs of complacency with Liverpool being hounded by the home team’s pressing game, as the Reds discovered what it’s like to be on the receiving end of such tactics. New goalkeeper Loris Karius looked as shaky on crosses as Simon Mignolet and Liverpool rarely defended crosses or set pieces well. That problem still needs a solution.
Manager rating out of 10
Jurgen Klopp, 7: With the team more or less picking itself, the German earned his money at half-time when Liverpool’s form and attitude needed a major reboot. Replaced Roberto Firmino to waste some time but might have been better leaving the Brazilian on the pitch.
Player ratings: (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Loris Karius, 5 — A worrying display. After so much talk of feeling reassured with their goalkeeper at long last, a number of sloppy kicks and missing a few dangerous crosses won’t have put the supporters at ease.
DF Nathaniel Clyne, 7 — Barely jumped for the corner that led to Swansea’s goal. He recovered well enough to be as solid and reliable as ever. Some question marks over his crossing, but he still joins in with plenty of attacks.
DF Joel Matip, 7 — Another whose early moments weren’t brilliant, he like others recovered to show the calming influence he’s had all season. Caught in possession when Swansea were chasing everything, he looked more assured in the second half. Not very convincing with some of the crosses, and that will likely be a concern for Klopp despite the win.
DF Dejan Lovren, 6 — Looked rusty throughout and some of his timing was off. No real understanding with Matip as to who should be attacking the opposition’s crosses, which led to a number of scary moments.
DF James Milner, 7 — As ruffled as anyone in the first half he stormed back with an excellent second-half display and showed his usual cool from the penalty spot. A constant thorn in Swansea’s right side as Liverpool chased an equaliser, then a winner.
MF Jordan Henderson, 7 — Efficient rather than influential, he was one of many who significantly improved after the equaliser. A challenging team might require more from its captain in the long term, but he still made vital clearances in his own area and certainly worked as hard as you’d expect.
MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 5 — Generally disappointing when he was not invisible, he did the simple things well enough but even then had more than a few poor touches. Kept going though and can’t be faulted for his attitude, at least.
MF Adam Lallana, 4 — Wasn’t really in the game at all until a groin problem saw him leave the pitch after 19 minutes.
FW Philippe Coutinho, 7 — Had a poor first half, with little coming off for the Brazilian. More of a threat after it became 1-1, with one wonderful long-range effort just past the post. Always a threat, even when not quite at the top of his game.
FW Sadio Mane, 7 — Arguably his poorest game for Liverpool but still had plenty of moments when his presence and pace sent the home team scurrying.
FW Roberto Firmino, 8 — Brought the Reds back into the game with a well-timed run to beat the offside trap and a suspiciously mistimed header that still found the net. Always busy after that and won the penalty that decided the game.
FW Daniel Sturridge, 6 — Brought on far earlier than his manager might have liked, he looked rusty and not up with the pace of the game. He scarcely improved in the second half, but in fairness he was finding good positions but was rarely found by his colleagues. He cut a distracted, frustrated figure at times but did show some composure at 2-1 by keeping possession.
MF Emre Can, NR — Brought on to try and close out the win, he had very little to do but the ends justified the means.
FW Divock Origi, NR — Perhaps a mistake by Klopp since Firmino, the player he replaced, was already doing a lot more than the Belgian managed in his short time on the pitch.