Goalkeeper Vorm exposes old Liverpool failing
Liverpool 0 Swansea City 0: Dutch goalkeeper's heroics preserve point for Swansea as Reds are again unable to see off a promoted side
Sunday 06 November 2011
It was the new faces in the Premier League that were Liverpool's undoing last season, when they were beaten four times by newly promoted teams, thereby failing to gather points that, in their manager's estimation, might have cost them a Champions' League place.
On the evidence of this season, it is a malaise that still afflicts them. After Swansea followed the example of Norwich two weeks ago by leaving Anfield with a point, Liverpool's recent record against teams just up from the Championship stands at three wins in 11 matches.
Swansea, picking up only their second point in six away matches, were under the cosh for a considerable proportion of the action and Michel Vorm, their Dutch goalkeeper, had to make saves of the highest quality to keep a clean sheet, two of them inside the last two minutes of regulation time as even Glen Johnson, the right-back, threw himself into Liverpool's efforts to break the deadlock.
Yet their opponents, who played some good football, might on the other hand have gone away with a win had Mark Gower, set up by a deft header by Danny Graham with six minutes left, not blazed the ball into the Kop.
"We took a real step forward today," the Swansea manager, Brendan Rodgers, said. "It was a performance that shows we are growing into this League and it fills me with great pride. At Wolves in our last away game we were outstanding but we had a two-goal lead and did not manage to close out the game. We had a bit of luck but we proved we could come to a ground like this and withstand the pressure."
And pressure there was. Liverpool, without the injured Steven Gerrard had 17 attempts on goal. Luis Suarez was twice foiled by Vorm, who saved his most spectacular intervention until last, bending his back to tip Johnson's volley over the bar.
But, as Kenny Dalglish emphasised, it was not good enough. The Liverpool manager took off both the striker Andy Carroll and midfielder Jordan Henderson – collectively worth £51 million – in the second half and concluded that it was a performance that was "not acceptable".
"I was disappointed with the way we played," he said. "The things that we do well we did not do today. We are usually good at passing and moving but there was not a lot of that and when we did get the ball we gave it away. We have to realise that that level of performance is not acceptable."
Liverpool ought to have been ahead in the eighth minute. A one-two with Charlie Adam sent Stewart Downing into space on the left and the England winger's low cross found Carroll but the £35 million striker crashed the ball against the crossbar.
Yet when they were able to venture forward, Swansea looked dangerous themselves, with Gower and Joe Allen working the ball confidently in central midfield and the wide players, Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer, threatening with their pace on the flanks. It was from a clever pass from Routledge that Graham almost beat Jose Reina to the ball midway through the first half.
Liverpool did have the ball in the net once but Dirk Kuyt was correctly flagged offside. The last time Swansea were here, in 1990, they conceded eight in an FA Cup tie. On this showing, Liverpool might have needed another 90 minutes just to get one.
Liverpool (4-4-2): Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique; Henderson (Kuyt, h-t), Lucas, Adam, Downing; Suarez, Carroll (Bellamy, 75).
Swansea City (4-1-4-1): Vorm; Rangel, Monk, Williams, Taylor; Britton; Dyer, Gower (Agustien, 90), Allen, Routledge (Sinclair, 74); Graham.
Referee: Phil Dowd
Man of the match: Vorm (Swansea)
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