The Big Match Tactical View: Swansea v Liverpool

Mohamed Salah is Liverpool's obvious attacking threat
Mohamed Salah is Liverpool's obvious attacking threat
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Swansea City have scored fewer Premier League goals this season than Mohamed Salah - but can the home side cause an upset? Michael Cox looks at the tactical battle and Alan Thompson focuses on the betting.

"Carlos Carvalhal’s system so far has appeared something like a 4-4-2, which is a somewhat atypical formation for Swansea"

Swansea v Liverpool
Monday 20:00, Sky Sports Main Event.
Match Odds: Swansea [13.0], Liverpool [1.33], The Draw [5.9].

Liverpool thrashed Swansea City 5-0 on Boxing Day with a display Jurgen Klopp later described as 'perfect', and the Reds are strong favourites to complete a double over the Premier League's bottom-placed side.

Much has changed at Swansea since then, of course - whereas Leon Britton was a reluctant temporary manager for the trip to Anfield, Carlos Carvalhal has since been appointed and seems to have provided something of a boost for a struggling group of players. The midweek victory over Wolves in the FA Cup got them back to winning ways, and the Swans appear more purposeful in possession than under Paul Clement.

New system for Swansea

Carvalhal's system so far has appeared something like a 4-4-2, which is a somewhat atypical formation for Swansea to be playing, having spent the last half-decade packing players into the centre of midfield.

There are some nuances to the system, however - Tom Carroll has been fielded on the left but drifts inside to play close to the energetic Sam Clucas and the steady, reliable Ki Sung-yueng.

On the right, Nathan Dyer plays more of a traditional wing role, although he'll have a tough task this weekend against Andrew Robertson, who was arguably Liverpool's outstanding player in last week's 4-3 victory over Manchester City.

Ayew to lead the line

Upfront, Jordan Ayew in fine form - he scored against Newcastle last weekend, and also netted a brilliant solo goal against Wolves. He'll continue upfront. His strike partner could be youngster Oliver McBurnie, who made his full debut in the reverse game, but Carvalhal may plump for the more experienced Wilfried Bony, who hasn't recreated the form of his first spell, but would offer more of a physical threat against a defence often vulnerable to crosses.

Defensively, Alfie Mawson and Kyle Bartley will be flanked by Martin Olsson, who remained in a solid defensive position against Newcastle, and right-side Mike van der Hoorn, who overlapped more. Against the threat of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, they'll both have a tough defensive task.

Klopp seems unlikely to make major changes from the side that defeated Manchester City, with an obvious exception in defence. £75m signing Virgil van Dijk missed out through injury, but after Klopp witnessed how badly Liverpool defended the late City onslaught, Van Dijk will surely return alongside Joel Matip.

Karius to continue

This also means that Loris Karius is set to continue in goal instead of Simon Mignolet. The German has never really impressed since moving to Liverpool 18 months ago, often making needless unforced errors and Swansea would be well-advised to put pressure on him early - although, as the Premier League's lowest scorers, he might be set for a quiet evening.

In midfield, Jordan Henderson is back in full training, Adam Lallana is closer to full fitness and James Milner is another option, but it will probably be last week's combination of Emre Can, Georginio Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the middle, where Liverpool appear to have a physical advantage over Swansea.

Roberto Firmino increasingly seems a good all-round number nine, and will press the Swansea centre-backs and attempt to create space for the wide players. He'll lead the line, but Salah - who has scored more goals than Swansea this season - seems the main goal threat.

Liverpool are obviously strong favourites for this one, but Swansea have picked up in the last couple of weeks and I'm not convinced backing Liverpool at [1.3] represents good value. It would be typical Liverpool to follow a huge victory over a big side with a failure against also-rans, so I'm going to back the draw at [5.9].

The Betfair Trader - Alan Thompson

Carlos Carvalhal has picked up four points from a possible nine in the Premier League and has only lost one of his first five games in charge overall. However, even a win today will still see his side remain at the foot of the table. That win will not be easy against a buoyant Liverpool side who stopped Manchester City’s unbeaten record last week and more importantly kept them firmly in the hunt for second place, which is a realistic aim this season. If the Reds are to finish second though they can’t afford any slip-ups especially against a side sitting at the foot of the table.

The Swans picked up a point at St James’ Park last week and while that is a positive they might see it as two dropped as they did take the lead in that game, a good win midweek in the FA Cup over Wolves will have boosted confidence a bit but it's asking a lot for them to get anything out of this fixture. Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 18 competitive games, winning 13 of those.

I can only see the three points heading back to Merseyside but Liverpool's win price offers absolutely no value at all. They hammered Swansea 5-0 on Boxing Day and while that was at Anfield It’s hard to see any other outcome than a Liverpool win, the problem is how to stake it?

I was considering Liverpool to Win to nil at about [2.1] but preferred the Asian Handicap which has Liverpool -1.5 and as they have scored at least two goals in their last six Premier League away days, I think there is every chance they will cover that. I will be a backer of Liverpool -1.5 at [2.0].

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