Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

Leading the way without Suarez; Liverpool fans can only dream

Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge (right) celebrates with team-mates after scoring his sides first goal of the game during the Barclays Premier League match at the Liberty Stadium, Swansea. Monday September 16, 2013. Nick Potts/PA Wire.
Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge (right) celebrates with team-mates after scoring his sides first goal of the game during the Barclays Premier League match at the Liberty Stadium, Swansea. Monday September 16, 2013. Nick Potts/PA Wire.
Swansea City's Jonjo Shelvey (right) and Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match at the Liberty Stadium, Swansea. Monday September 16, 2013. Nick Potts/PA Wire.
Swansea City's Jonjo Shelvey (right) and Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match at the Liberty Stadium, Swansea. Monday September 16, 2013. Nick Potts/PA Wire.
Swansea City's Jonjo Shelvey (centre) is mobbed by team-mates after scoring his sides first goal of the game during the Barclays Premier League match at the Liberty Stadium, Swansea. Nick Potts/PA Wire
Swansea City's Jonjo Shelvey (centre) is mobbed by team-mates after scoring his sides first goal of the game during the Barclays Premier League match at the Liberty Stadium, Swansea. Nick Potts/PA Wire

What a gripping game of football. Truth be told, there hasn't been too many of them in a pretty tame start to the Premier League this season.

Maybe this compelling 2-2 draw between Swansea City and Liverpool at an atmospheric Liberty Stadium will start the ball rolling.

Mind you, Brendan Rodgers might just prefer Liverpool to get back to grinding out 1-0 victories every week, rather than being involved in thrilling contests like this, which in the closing stages his team looked more like losing than winning.

Still, Liverpool fans will gaze at the table today and see their team sitting proudly at the top unbeaten with 10 points.

Four games in, Kopites would have settled for that.

Heck, let's be honest; Luis Suarez's team-mates would have bitten your arm off to be in this position.

Oh, and let's not forget the controversial Uruguayan will return to the team soon. Drama awaits.

Liverpool's opening three league encounters against Stoke, Aston Villa and Manchester United, all won thanks to a single Daniel Sturridge goal, were an illustration of how far the Anfield outfit have come under Rodgers since the turn of the year.

In many ways this match was the same.

Under serious pressure in the final half hour, this time last season the Reds would have lost this encounter.

Instead, they left Swansea with a point.

There is still a long way to go and nobody knows that better than the man from the north Antrim village of Carnlough, but he's getting there.

This season the Manchester clubs and Chelsea will battle it out for the title – Rodgers is well aware that his side will be scrapping with Arsenal and Spurs for that final Champions League place.

As for Swansea, they will entertain royally, just as they have done since Rodgers brought them into the top flight of English football.

In full flow they are superb to watch.

At times Michael Laudrup's side don't play, they purr.

And that was the case after they levelled the game at 2-2 on 64 minutes when Michu slotted home a lovely lay-off from the man of the night Jonjo Shelvey.

The young English midfielder joined Swansea in the summer from Liverpool and taking on his old club and his hero Steven Gerrard in midfield, even before kick-off you could tell this was no ordinary fixture for the shaven-headed kid.

He scored with less than 90 seconds gone, then gifted the deadly Daniel Sturridge his fourth goal of the season with a dreadful back pass moments later and before the break had presented the ball to Liverpool debutant Victor Moses who ran on to provide a stunning finish.

Shelvey looked shellshocked at the break.

His dream match was turning into a nightmare. To his credit he fought back, didn't hide and deservedly created the equaliser.

He even had the good grace to apologise to the Swansea fans afterwards and applaud both sets of supporters.

Swansea's Europa League adventure, which continues on Thursday, will make it a tricky season for them, but with players like Shelvey, Michu, Wayne Routledge and outstanding young left back Ben Davies they will do just fine. No relegation worries at all.

As for Liverpool, there is more to come from them.

They won't stay top but they are moving in the right direction... and still have a man called Suarez to come in.

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