02/21/2014
 
Liverpool are set to host Swansea at Anfield on Sunday in what is likely to prove a crucial match that the hosts must win if they are to stay within sight of a fourth-placed finish. Chelsea, Arsenal and Man City who are above Liverpool on the points table are likely to win their respective games on the weekend.

Their loss to Arsenal in the FA Cup means that Liverpool have no further distractions going into the final stretch of the league season and that could be a big advantage for Sunday's hosts. Liverpool are currently on a seven-match unbeaten streak; their brilliant home record this season  -- with just the one loss -- is also a positive sign ahead of the game with Swansea. 

Swansea are managed by Garry Monk -- Rodgers' former player -- who replaced Laudrup recently, and in four games on his watch the Welsh side have won two, drawing and losing one each. Ahead of the game on Sunday, Swansea are just four points adrift of the drop zone and any points salvaged from the game would be a step towards safety from relegation.

While  Enrique and Sakho are likely to miss the game due to injury concerns, Liverpool have fielded an unchanged side  for four matches prior to their FA Cup game with Arsenal. Glen Johnson has recovered from a knee injury and could return to football action on the weekend.

Swansea also have few injury worries though they are likely to be without the services of their star striker Michu who is yet to recover to match fitness after missing his side's Europa League 0-0 stalemate with Napoli.

Liverpool have been in impressive form this season and they are unlikely to let slip the three full points they are expected to bank from Sunday's game.
 
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02/12/2014
 
Swansea defender Chico Flores was back in interim manager Garry Monk's good books as his goal rescued a 1-1 draw at Stoke on Wednesday. Monk's team were trailing to Peter Crouch's first half goal at a windswept Britannia Stadium, where the game only went ahead after two pre-match safety inspections due to the storm-force winds prior to kick off.

But Flores netted in the second half as the Spanish defender finally hit the headlines for the right reasons. It has been a difficult few weeks for the 26-year-old, who was accused of diving to make the most of a challenge from Andy Carroll that led to the West Ham's striker's dismissal and subsequent three-match ban. A few days later Flores was apparently involved in a training ground bust-up with Monk, who later insisted the incident had been blown out of proportion.


Flores then played his part in Saturday's 3-0 south Wales derby win over Cardiff as Monk began his managerial career with a bang after taking up the reins from the sacked Michael Laudrup. And he was in the right place at the right time to net the equaliser against Mark Hughes' team and keep Swansea in 10th place. Around 90 minutes before kick-off it appeared highly likely the game would be called off given the battering the stadium received from the gales.


But, unlike Wednesday's fixtures at Manchester City and Everton, the match was allowed to proceed and it proved the right decision as the winds started to drop by kick-off. Crouch bagged his eighth goal of the season in the 17th minute, tapping home from close-range after Peter Odemwingie's effort rebounded back off a post. It could have been 2-0 in the 20th minute but for Michel Vorm tipping over the crossbar a dipping 20-yard effort from Marko Arnautovic.


Swansea were better in the second half, with Wilfried Bony firing just over the angle of bar from the edge of the area 90 seconds in. Flores then popped up with the equaliser, deftly flicking home a Pablo Hernandez cross beyond the despairing reach of Asmir Begovic in the 52nd minute. Twelve minutes from time, Swansea thought they had the winner when a Bony shot was nudged goalwards by Begovic, only for captain Ryan Shawcross to hook off the line. Then in the 86th minute Begovic pulled off a stunning save to deny substitute Jonathan de Guzman from long-range.

 
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02/08/2014
 
Swansea City made a winning start to life after Michael Laudrup by beating Cardiff City 3-0 on Saturday to leave their fierce rivals mired in the Premier League relegation zone.

Laudrup was sacked as manager on Tuesday and replaced by rookie coach Garry Monk, but second-half goals from Wayne Routledge, Nathan Dyer and Wilfried Bony saw Cardiff blown away in the south Wales derby. Having won only one of their previous 10 league games, Swansea moved four points clear of the bottom three, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Cardiff now three points from safety with 13 games remaining.

Writing in the match-day program, Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins justified Laudrup's sacking by claiming that the club's "strong principles" were "slowly being eroded" under the Dane's stewardship. Whatever the reasons for Laudrup's dismissal, Swansea's players seemed determined to impress Monk -- who was promoted from the playing staff -- as they flew out of the traps at a rain-lashed Liberty Stadium.

Middlesbrough loanee Marvin Emnes was one of four players drafted into the starting lineup by Monk and he quickly caught the eye, teeing up Routledge for an early shot that David Marshall saved comfortably. The Cardiff goalkeeper was fully extended moments later, however, sliding in and brilliantly clawing the ball off Bony's toes as the Swansea striker advanced into the visitors' box.

Gradually Swansea's early fire burnt out and Cardiff began to find openings. Twice Craig Bellamy teed up Kenwyne Jones, but the former Stoke City striker could not find the target on either occasion, while Peter Whittingham worked Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm with a well-struck half-volley. Swansea roused themselves before half-time, Dyer drilling a low shot across goal, but Manchester United loanee Wilfried Zaha served a reminder of Cardiff's threat with an incisive run and wayward shot.

Monk elected to introduce Pablo Hernandez at half-time and it proved a masterstroke as the Spanish midfielder teed up the opening goal within two minutes of coming on. He used the outside of his right foot to stab a carefully weighted pass down the inside-left channel and Routledge drew Marshall from his line before planting a low shot inside the right-hand post.


Monk celebrated jubilantly, but the dangerous Bellamy almost silenced the crowd moments later when he sent a rasping drive against the crossbar from just outside the penalty area. Dyer twice threatened to add to Routledge's goal, bending a shot narrowly wide from 25 yards and then forcing Marshall to tip an effort over the bar.


 Kim Bo-kyung gave Swansea a scare when he hooked a volley over the crossbar, but late headers from Dyer and Bony, teed up by Routledge and Hernandez, completed a dream coaching debut for Monk.

 
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