Monday Night Football featured an entertaining 2-2 draw between Swansea and Liverpool at the Liberty Stadium. Adam Bate examines the Opta data to take a deeper look at the key factors in the result
By Adam Bate - Follow @GhostGoal. Last Updated: September 17, 2013 8:21am
It was the Jonjo Shelvey show at the Liberty Stadium as he scored Swansea's opener, gave the ball away twice to put Liverpool ahead and then set up Michu for the home side's equaliser in an entertaining 2-2 draw on Monday Night Football.
Liverpool looked sharp in the first half and just about deserved the lead courtesy of goals from Daniel Sturridge and Victor Moses. But the home side dominated after the break and in the latter stages the Reds were holding on for the point that takes them top of the Premier League.
Here we take an in-depth statistical look at the game using Opta data...
Swansea v Liverpool starting formations
An injury to Daniel Agger saw Mamadou Sakho given his Premier League debut alongside Martin Skrtel. "How long have they actually trained together as a partnership?" asked Jamie Carragher. "Agger is the best centre-back there so it's a big blow. But they've spent a lot of money on Sakho and it's good for us to see if he can adapt to this league."
Andre Wisdom deputised for Glen Johnson at right-back, while Brendan Rodgers' decision to start with Moses ahead of Iago Aspas allowed Philippe Coutinho to play in a central role in support of Sturridge. "Moses gives Liverpool pace and power on the counter-attack," added Carragher.
After an encouraging start to the season, Michael Laudrup continued with the partnership of Wilfried Bony and Michu in attack and the Swansea boss appeared as excited as anyone to see how they would fare. "It's important for us," he told Sky Sports before kick-off. "They are goalscorers. I'm looking forward to it."
Laudrup also opted to play Shelvey alongside Leon Britton in a withdrawn midfield role as well as two wingers in Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge. "He's picked an attacking team tonight," said Gary Neville. "They're going for it."
First half possession and average position - note the advanced role for Moses (12)
Story of the game
Sakho made a dreadful start to his Liverpool career when his header failed to clear his own area and he was then easily beaten by a drop of the shoulder from Shelvey after the ex-Red had messed up his initial shot. While Skrtel did well to block the subsequent effort, Sakho was slow to cover and Shelvey beat Simon Mignolet at the third attempt.
It was the fastest goal of the Premier League season so far and the first Liverpool have conceded. Carragher was in no doubt who was to blame. "It's a poor header from Sakho," said Carragher at half-time. "He's dived in again on the edge of the box. He's been poor, to be honest."
The lead did not last long as Shelvey turned to pass the ball backwards and his evening took a significant turn for the worse too. Pressed well by Jordan Henderson, he eschewed an ambitious forward pass and instead tapped the ball lamely with the outside of his boot straight into the path of Sturridge.
"It's fantastic anticipation from Sturridge and he gets his reward," said Neville. It was true that the Liverpool forward appeared to know where Shelvey was kicking it before the player himself did.
4 - Daniel Sturridge is the first player to score in each of Liverpool's first four games of a Premier League season. Form.- OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 16, 2013
Liverpool soon took charge of the game and enjoyed 60 per cent of the possession in the first quarter of an hour. They were particularly successful down their left flank with Jose Enrique pushing forward to join Moses, while Coutinho and Sturridge were frequently drawn to that wing to create an overload.
Jonjo Shelvey issued an apology to fans
Steven Gerrard, captaining Liverpool for the 400th time, played an excellent long ball out to Sturridge in the left channel but a poor run from Moses - opting for the inside channel - appeared to take the striker's space and he could only blaze over.
Minutes later, Sturridge showed his team-mate the run he should have made and allowed Moses to put Liverpool ahead. Shelvey was the villain again, giving the ball away with a lazy pass, and Sturridge made the run on the outside of Moses that gave the Chelsea loanee the chance to cut inside of Chico Flores to beat a static Michel Vorm. "This is what we thought Moses would add on the counter-attack," said Carragher afterwards.
The passes graphic shows balls from Lucas to Coutinho while the touch map shows the latter's involvement
Swansea were trying to maintain their shape. "They're just allowing Liverpool to bring the ball out as far as the halfway line but then they're very compact after that," said Davie Provan on commentary. The problem was that, in Coutinho, Liverpool had a player capable of taking clever positions to receive the ball in tight positions.
Daniel Sturridge was disappointed with draw
His joy in the No.10 role was illustrated by the passing combinations in the first half. While Swansea's most common pass was from Leon Britton to Angel Rangel, the most repeated pass came from Lucas Leiva to his fellow Brazilian Coutinho - occurring 14 times before the latter had to go off after 55 minutes to be replaced by Iago Aspas.
Within 10 minutes of his exit, Swansea were level. Again Shelvey was key and he deserves praise for his willingness to make things happen even after the disappointment of being responsible for two goals. His driving run forwards was not tracked by Gerrard and caught Sakho out of position. Michu finished from his headed flick-on and the game had turned again.
Shelvey (8) was twice punished for losing the ball (see red passes in own half) but was key to the equaliser
Laudrup had already made one tactical change at half-time, bringing on Jonathan De Guzman for Nathan Dyer and the enforced withdrawal of Bony immediately after the equaliser added to Swansea's midfield dominance.
On came Alex Pozuelo and the young Spaniard did a job similar to the one Coutinho had done for the opposition - popping up in pockets of space in the attacking midfield zone. The contrast with Aspas, who struggled to get anywhere near the ball, was marked. Swansea had 70 per cent of possession in the second half.
Swansea dominated possession by the end and the contrasting impact of Pozuelo and Aspas played its part
Unfortunately for Laudrup's team, they were not able to find a winner. Having flooded the midfield with numbers in order to seize control of the match, there was a price to pay in terms of attacking threat. "There's only Michu in the box," noted Provan. "For all their passing, there's nobody to hit."
Swansea's dominance translated to shots but Mignolet was not tested as much as he might have been
Ultimately the draw was a fair reflection of the game - the first this season in the Premier League to feature three goals before the break - and the draw takes Liverpool back to the top of the table. While this particular second half performance owed much to Swansea's tinkering and an injury to a key player, Rodgers will still feel the habit of fading in games is one they must look to break.
0 - Liverpool are yet to score a second half goal in the Premier League this season. Fade.- OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 16, 2013
"I think it was a great performance in the second half after a very difficult first half. It started great with an early goal but then unfortunately we gave away two goals with some easy balls given away in midfield. We had to perform better in the second half and I really thought the boys did an excellent job. We got the equaliser and you could say that if it was a boxing match we should have won the game (on points). But I'm pleased with the result overall, especially after the performance in the second half and the comeback from the first."
"For the first 65 minutes I thought we had good control of the game with and without the ball. We didn't have that control in the last 25 minutes. Coutinho going off disrupted the flow of our game. We had to show our resilience and character. Because of the wingers coming on the inside we dropped a little deeper in our press and then looked to spring on the counter attack. It's an excellent start. We've still got improvements to make and one of the best strikers in the world to come back into our team but we've got good ideas and we are working tirelessly. Tonight was a good point."
"I think one of the things Brendan Rodgers will be baffled about as someone who prides himself on possession is these second halves. They have retreated in the second half. Thirty per cent possession - I know Swansea are good on the ball but you never would have thought that would happen. They held on against Aston Villa and Manchester United comfortably at times, but I never thought they were comfortable here. Swansea put them under real pressure. I think losing Agger and having to bring in Sakho probably made them a little unsettled. Wisdom playing at right-back had to be substituted. Perhaps those changes caused them a bit more disruption they hadn't had in the previous games."
While it was the Shelvey show, the fact that the Swansea midfielder's mistakes contributed to both Liverpool's goals saw Sturridge claim the champagne. He showed great anticipation for his early equaliser and has now scored in each of Liverpool's first four matches. The England international even insists he isn't fully fit. "I only trained for the first time on Friday with the team after the England trip," he told Sky Sports. Even so, the Reds striker looked sharp and his movement across the front line was an important asset for his side.
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