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Swansea vs Liverpool: Three keys to the game

This should be a great game of football - or, it should at least make up for Southampton against West Ham yesterday. Here are some key areas:

Andre Wisdom’s performance

Glen Johnson’s injury may not keep him out for as long as was originally anticipated, but he will be missing tonight - meaning that Andre Wisdom will likely deputise at right-back.

Wisdom isn’t the same kind of full-back as Johnson, and he’s much more defensively-orientated. While that may be good news for the general security of Liverpool’s back-four, it will have an effect on the visiting side’s ability to create attacking overloads in the Swansea half. Johnson loves to get forward, and he provides offensive support both down the line and in more central areas when he cuts inside with the ball - Wisdom is not as good with the ball at his feet, and isn’t a great crosser, so it’s going to be up to Brendan Rodgers’ midfield staff to pick-up the slack in that area.

The combination between Michu and Wilfried Bony

On paper, this should be one of the best forward partnerships in the league, but the chemistry isn’t quite there yet. In addition to the natural time it takes for two players to learn to operate alongside each other, one of the two - Michu - is having to adjust to a slightly more withdrawn role this season. The Spaniard scored a lot of goals from that position during his last season for Rayo Vallecano, so Michael Laudrup isn’t sacrificing as much as it might seem to accommodate Bony, but this is clearly a combination in its embryonic stage. As and when it clicks, Swansea will start scoring a lot of goals, but as and when that will be remains to be seen - if it’s tonight, Liverpool will have issues.

Jose Canas vs Philippe Coutinho

This, you suspect, is where the game will be won and lost. When Coutinho is prominent, and is allowed to have a lot influence - both with his passing and with the ball at his feet - Liverpool tend to win, and so Swansea’s priority tonight is to keep the Brazilian as quiet as possible. Not only is he a direct threat, but a lot of Daniel Sturridge’s possession in space is created by his passing range, and those two - as a pair - are playing as well as anyone in the Premier League at the moment.

Jose Canas is a really intelligent player, and someone who - in theory at least - will be a key part of Swansea’s attempts to take the ball away from Liverpool. His job tonight is complex, because he’s going to need to find a balance between protecting his back-four from Liverpool’s penetrative passing, and preventing Coutinho from having too much space when he drifts into that deep left position that he loves to work from in an opponent’s half. That’s tough, but he’s more than capable of frustrating the visitors and preventing them from establishing a rhythm in the game - if Swansea win tonight, expect him to have five or more interceptions and to be very near the Man Of The Match award.

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