Liverpool gave their Champions League hopes a real boost as they came through a stern test at the Liberty Stadium.
After a series of excellent displays, Brendan Rodgers’ men were far from their best against Swansea and required more than a slice of luck for the only goal of the game.
Jordan Henderson raced on to a Daniel Sturridge flick but as Jordi Amat attempted to clear, he smashed the ball straight against the Reds midfielder before it looped over the stranded Lukasz Fabianski.
The goal came at a vital moment for Liverpool, who had Simon Mignolet to thank for keeping the impressive hosts at bay in the first-half.
Here are five things we learned from tonight’s clash.
Form takes preference
The closing two months of the season will see Steven Gerrard bid a fond and undoubtedly emotional farewell to Liverpool.
Not much hasn’t been said about the club’s legendary skipper ahead of his move Stateside and we are all aware of the narrative, of him leading his beloved Reds to FA Cup glory, on his 35th birthday.
That lies in wait but for the time being, Gerrard faces a fight to get back into this Liverpool team.
In his absence, Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson have been exceptional, with the latter stepping into the role of captain seamlessly.
The pair were again named in Brendan Rodgers’ starting line-up at Swansea, with the returning captain watching on from the substitutes’ bench.
Maybe he isn’t quite match-fit yet but if Allen and Henderson can keep up their current form, Stevie G may have to make do with a bit-part role as his departure moves ever closer.
Gomis is fighting fit
The French striker had collapsed as his Swansea team-mates prepared to re-start after Tottenham had opened the scoring at White Hart Lane.
It brought back memories of Fabrice Muamba’s cardiac arrest – on the same ground – when playing for Bolton in 2012, but fortunately he was able to give the thumbs up as he left the pitch on a stretcher.
Last week Swansea confirmed he had returned to training as we breathed a collective sigh of relief.
It was no surprise to see Gomis named in Garry Monk’s starting line-up tonight – and he proved his manager was right to do so.
Throughout the first-half, he gave Liverpool’s back three a torrid time, linking up with Gylfi Sigurdsson and Wayne Routledge to full effect, before forcing a fingertip save out of Simon Mignolet.It would have been a welcome sight for Swansea fans just to see him out on the pitch – but it was his performance that set the tone for the evening.
In pictures: Swansea 0-1 Liverpool
Mignolet is a man on a mission
After a dismal start to the season, many doubted if Simon Mignolet was up to the job of being Liverpool’s No.1.
A series of high-profile clangers, nervy handling and woeful kicking, it was no surprise to see the Belgian axed by Brendan Rodgers.
An injury to back-up Brad Jones at Burnley on Boxing Day gave Mignolet a chance to return, and since then he hasn’t looked back.
At the Liberty Stadium, he was again in excellent form, first denying Gomis with a low save to his right.
But the best was yet to come, as the first-half drew to a close.
Gylfi Sigurdsson wriggled free in the area and appeared to have curled the hosts in front but Mignolet flung himself at the attempt to claw it away.
Rodgers may still move for a new stopper in the summer but for now, Mignolet is proving he is up to the job.
Henderson is proving he is up to the job
There have been some doubts over whether Jordan Henderson is the right man to replace Gerrard as Liverpool’s captain when he heads Stateside,
But given his displays in recent weeks, and crucial impact when it matters, the England midfielder will soon put those doubts to bed.
Stunning strikes against Burnley and Manchester City have yielded three points and while his goal at Swansea was less spectacular – it could be even more significant.
After Daniel Sturridge’s deft flick, Henderson raced through and with more than a slice of luck, gave Liverpool the lead, just as his predecessor has done on multiple occasions down the years.
Jordan Henderson 2014/15
In trying to clear, Jordi Amat striked the ball right against the Reds midfielder as it looped right over Lukasz Fabianksi and into the net, for his third goal in three games.
Moments later, the Reds were awarded a free-kick in Gerrard territory, but Henderson was the first man over to whip the ball into the box – despite his club captain then being on the field.
Captaincy brings extra responsibility and right now, Henderson is passing the test
Top four train chugs along
Liverpool were almost unstoppable as they came within inches of the Premier League title last season.
And there is more than a resemblance with this term’s form, as they chase down the Champions League spots.
Against Swansea, they were far from at their best but they’re keeping clean sheets, and winning matches – and that’s all that matters right now.
Since losing to Manchester United on December 14, Liverpool have played 13 league fixtures, winning 10 and conceding just eight times.
Tonight’s win takes them within two points of United, three of Arsenal and four behind second-placed Manchester City with nine games to go.
There’s no doubt the race for the top four will go right down to the wire but Brendan Rodgers’ men are surely the side to watch.
Next up? United, Anfield, Sunday. SOURCE:MIRROR