Liverpool were devastating on Boxing Day as they eased their way past Swansea City at Anfield. They were without their captain, Jordan Henderson, through injury, but that didn’t affect them and on another day, they could have scored more than the five that they did. Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring before a Roberto Firmino brace and goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain compounded the pain for the visitors. Here are three talking points from the match:
Philippe Coutinho is back to his influential best
The Brazilian missed the beginning of the season through injury and struggled to maintain focus after a long, drawn out transfer saga. There were many that doubted whether he would be able to get back to his best for Liverpool, but he has worked hard and he was close to unplayable on Boxing Day. He opened the scoring with an incredible strike from range. It was known that the 25-year-old had that in his arsenal, but his ability to produce long-distance goals with regularity remains impressive.
Throughout the match, he was a constant threat to Swansea and ran the game, as he drifted inside to leave space for Andrew Robertson to exploit. He attempted four shots during the match and made five key passes. Unsurprisingly, he was the most creative player on the pitch and earned the assist for the second goal with a sublime free-kick delivery that put the ball on a plate for Roberto Firmino. He was willing to carry the ball and was very difficult to dispossess, as he completed five dribbles during the contest. The one disappointment was his pass success rate of 68%, but it is difficult to criticise this display.
Swansea need to appoint a new manager
This is the third season in a row that Swansea City have sacked their manager in December and the club that was once heralded for the way they appoint bosses now look to be operating without a plan. Due to their position in the Premier League, it is not surprising that they chose to sack Paul Clement, but it is now obvious that they have no succession plan in place. Leon Britton is a club legend, but he can’t be expected to turn around the season from the dugout. He has no experience and remains a member of the playing staff.
Swansea have looked to retain possession during his two matches in charge and against Liverpool, they packed the midfield. However, they remained very poor defensively and the scoreline was not a harsh reflection on them in the slightest. Tony Pulis did look to be the best option available, but they have missed out on him after he took the Middlesbrough job. There are no obvious candidates out there and that is a huge worry for the supporters. If somebody doesn’t come in soon, the Swans could find themselves cut adrift at the bottom.
Trent Alexander-Arnold took his opportunity
Jurgen Klopp has been a big fan of Trent Alexander-Arnold since taking over at Liverpool. The right-back has been given a lot of opportunities and regularly makes the most of them. Joe Gomez has been the preferred right-back this season in the absence of Nathaniel Clyne. However, his performance level has dropped in recent weeks and a bad error against Arsenal led to him being dropped for the Swansea match. Alexander-Arnold couldn’t have done much more to earn a longer run in the team.
His goal will be remembered as he anticipated the chance well and finished emphatically, but his overall performance showed that he has a big future at Anfield. Defensively, he positioned himself well, winning four tackles and making two interceptions to prevent Swansea. In possession, he was intelligent and moved the ball well, as shown by his pass success rate of 87%. Young players can be afraid to take risks, but the 19-year-old can’t be accused of that. He completed four dribbles during the match, which was more than all but two of the players on the pitch.