Swansea 0 Liverpool 0: No happy return for Rodgers in first game back at Liberty Stadium
00:14 GMT, 26 November 2012
There were warm handshakes, applause for both sets of supporters and slaps on the back for players past and present.
At first glance, it appeared Brendan Rodgers was a content soul after an intriguing game between Swansea and Liverpool.
His first return to the Liberty Stadium was always going to be a big deal and leaving with a point and a clean sheet could be construed as a positive.
Tussle: Luis Suarez worked hard up front against Chico Flores
Swansea: Tremmel, Chico, Williams, Rangel, Davies, Britton, Michu, Pablo, Routledge (Dyer 67), De Guzman (Agustien 85), Shechter (Ki Sung-Yeung 46)
Subs not used: Cornell, Monk, Tiendalli, Lita
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Jose Enrique, Agger, Skrtel, Gerrard, Henderson (Shelvey 77), Downing (Cole 77), Allen, Sterling, Suarez
Subs not used: Jones, Coates, Carragher, Sahin, Suso
Referee: Jon Moss (W Yorkshire).
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To see the look on Rodgers' face,
though, before he headed down the tunnel told another story. His lips
were pursed, his gaze was wistful.
This was a game that, with some extra
quality in the right areas, Liverpool would have won. As it was, it was
the same old story: nearly but not quite.
'We wanted to keep our run going,' said Rodgers, whose side are unbeaten in their last eight Barclays Premier League games.
'I'd never say it was two points
dropped here. This is a difficult place to come. We are chipping away,
climbing the league and continually improving.
'If we can get the quality in the
final third to support what we have, then we have enough to keep the
team moving forward. It is a team who are coming together. I can see
improvement all the time.'
The improvement, however, will only
be slow unless Fenway Sports Group, the club's American owners,
appreciate what could potentially be gained with the right expenditure
when the January transfer window opens.
Contested: Leon Britton takes on Raheem Sterling (right) at the Liberty Stadium
No way: Jose Enrique blocks Jonathan de Guzman's (left) path
WILLIAMS V SUAREZ
Pre-match: The feuding pair were all smiles as they shook hands
8mins: Williams uses his experience, and considerable frame, to block a Suarez run into the box. The Uruguayan half-heartedly pleas for a penalty.
16mins: Suarez wriggles away from Williams, but is flagged offside, rightly, from Jose Enrique's pass.
23mins: Suarez is again free, this time at the near post, but fails to make good contact.
58mins: Suarez shows excellent skill to work a yard for a shot, which goes through Williams' legs and draws a smart save.
64mins: Williams sees a header cleared off the line by old Swansea team-mate Joe Allen.
71mins: Chico Flores gets the first yellow card of the day for bringing down Suarez.
83mins: A stray Raheem Sterling pass robs Suarez of the chance to shoot uncontested at goal.
Liverpool, after all, are only four
points behind an Arsenal side that Arsene Wenger still believes can
qualify for the Champions League.
That deficit might have been down to two had Rodgers been able to call on that extra quality to his forward line.
Luis Suarez cannot keep carrying
Liverpool on his own and the fact that only two of his team-mates have
scored in the Premier League since September 29 – Raheem Sterling and
Jose Enrique – shows where the team's deficiencies are.
That is where we need to improve,'
said Rodgers. 'We had 18 shots on goal, nine on target. But we need to
finish them when we arrive in good areas.'
It was Sterling and Enrique who went closest to breaking the deadlock here, though.
The former rattled the bar with a
thumping volley after 33 minutes, while the latter had an effort ruled
out for a marginal offside devision 60 seconds later after being picked
out by Suarez.
'I thought it was a goal,' said
Rodgers. 'But we played well. It was emotional returning to where I
spent a great time in my life.'
It looked for much of the opening 45
minutes that Rodgers would enjoy the happiest of returns with the
outstanding Glen Johnson and Sterling running amok down Swansea's left.
Not this time: Luis Suarez could not add to his 13 goals this season
Close call: Enrique (back right) was adjudged to be offside when he put a Luis Suarez cross in the net
Eyes on the prize: Raheem Sterling battles with Ben Davies (right)
Johnson was denied by a fine stop by Gerhard Tremmel after exchanging passes with Suarez and also went close with a header.
Angel Rangel flung himself in front
of a Suarez blockbuster, while Enrique got in a tangle after another
superb cross from Johnson.
Yet Swansea were not without chances.
Pablo Hernandez bent an effort round a post after a rare mistake by
Steven Gerrard not long after Wayne Routledge had tested Pepe Reina.
They certainly contributed to a spectacle that contained 1,055 passes.
Clash: Nathan Dyer accidentally slid into Pepe Reina when trying to reach the ball
'Was it a point gained or two lost I think it was a good point,' said Swansea manager Michael Laudrup.
'Maybe Liverpool had more chances more than us but we had them. I'm pleased with my team.'
Laudrup was especially pleased in the
83rd minute when Suarez and Sterling failed to administer the ultimate
punishment after a quick break, and he remains more than content with
the way Swansea have started the campaign.
Rodgers left the impression he will be truly content only when reinforcements have arrived.
'It will evolve,' said Rodgers. 'The
guys are working well but you need to get your own type of players in
before you can say, “This is my side”.
'We will look to work with the players we have and hope to do some business in January.'
Centre of attention: Pablo Hernandez teases Dan Agger (right)
How Luis Suarez rages when a decision doesn't go his way