The Teacher Shows He is Still the Master
Brendan Rodgers managed Garry Monk during his time at Swansea City and did the same on Monday night when he masterminded an entertaining 4-1 victory over his former club at Anfield.
The win is their biggest of the season and means that the Reds overtake the Swans on the table and end 2014 in eighth place.
Alberto Moreno got the ball rolling before Adam Lallana scored a brace and Jonjo Shelvey put one past his own keeper. Gylfi Sigurdsson managed to pull one back for the visitors but it proved nothing more than a consolation.
Liverpool had numerous opportunities to take the lead in the opening stages but Martin Skrtel powered his header straight into the gloves of Lukasz Fabianski and then Lallana skied a shot over the bar from close range.
Rodgers’ side had been guilty of dropping too far back in previous fixtures, particularly against Manchester United where the full-backs failed to have any effect.
However, Javier Manquillo and Moreno pressed high up the pitch in this game, causing far more of a threat down the flanks, and forced Swansea onto the back foot.
Prior to the meeting, Fabianski had kept eight clean sheets this season but the Pole was always going to have a tough time adding to his tally with the barrage of attacks on his goal by the home side.
On 33 minutes, it was Moreno who opened the scoring with his first goal at Anfield. The 20-year-old Spaniard made another energetic run from the back and tapped in, unmarked, from a Lallana cross.
Just before half time, Shelvey showed exactly why his manager has asked him to show more discipline in his play. The midfielder made a superb run into the box, skipping past three Liverpool players in the process but then threw an elbow into the face of Emre Can after the attack broke down.
Simon Mignolet could not have asked for an easier return to the side after being dropped due to bad form. The Belgian was only called upon twice, first to catch a harmless looping header by Nathan Dyer and then a mistimed slice by the same man.
Five minutes into the second half Liverpool had doubled their lead.
A simple back-pass to Fabianski was chased down by Lallana and the keeper’s clearance cannoned into the midfielder, rebounding into the net for a completely fluke goal.
Moments later, a shell-shocked Liverpool were caught on the counter attack and Mamadou Sakho’s poor header was rocketed in by Sigurdsson to get his side on the score sheet.
Any thought of a comeback was quickly diminished when, on 61 minutes, Lallana made a slick run through the defence and kept his head to slot home a brilliant goal to extend Liverpool’s lead once again.
The home side were 4-1 up seven minutes later after Jordan Henderson’s corner was deflected in by a deflated former Liverpool man, Shelvey.
Raheem Sterling was largely ineffective all evening and was lucky to escape a booking for a clear slap to the face of Federico Fernandez before sensibly being substituted for Mario Balotelli with five minutes remaining.
A convincing display will stand Liverpool in good stead going into 2015 and just one defeat in their last ten means they are now only five points off the Champions League places.
Monk’s side has also had a decent 2014 but Swansea will need to find some form on the road if they are to push for European football next season.