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    Swansea City vs Liverpool Match Preview


    Liverpool are expected to rest a number of key players on Sunday when they return to Premier League action against Swansea City, with manager Jurgen Klopp having one eye on Thursday's Europa League return leg against Villarreal. Although The Swans are not mathematically safe from the drop, it would take a small miracle for Francesco Guidolin's side to be relegated and they will see it as the perfect opportunity to end any lingering doubts that may have resurfaced in recent weeks.

    Liverpool Overview

    Although a trip to the Liberty Stadium may not rank highest on Liverpool's list of priorities in the midst of a tightly-poised European semi-final, it could still be a significant match for the club's hopes of securing a top-six finish. Time is running out for The Reds in their efforts to overhaul West Ham and Manchester United in the table, which will guarantee a repeat of the glorious European nights for next season that have lit up the club's 2015-16 campaign. Only by winning the Europa League, which will prove a tough task after the 1-0 first leg loss to Villarreal, or through Manchester United winning the FA Cup final would Liverpool's current position of seventh be good enough to book a return ticket to Europe for next season.



    Liverpool's form has been excellent in recent weeks, despite the club's squad being rotated on a consistent basis to cope with the fixture congestion caused by their extended run in the Europa League. Jurgen Klopp played a combination of youngsters and fringe players in the recent wins over Stoke City and Bournemouth, as well as in last weekend's 2-2 draw against Newcastle, which has allowed several players to stake a claim for a more regular starting place. Kolo Toure and Joe Allen are the two players to have benefited mostly from more regular playing time, with the recent absences of Mamadou Sakho, Emre Can and Jordan Henderson enabling both players to start in Thursday's semi-final first leg.

    Toure and Allen are not the only players to have been given a new lease of life at Liverpool since Klopp's arrival as the previously-maligned Simon Mignolet and Dejan Lovren are enjoying the best form of their Liverpool careers. The duo are likely to be rested on Sunday, along with the other nine players who started against Villarreal, and this would give Klopp another opportunity to integrate the club's promising youngsters into his starting XI. Daniel Sturridge is in line to make his return to the side after missing out on Thursday, while Christian Benteke could make his first Premier League start since January 2 after returning from injury as a 90th minute substitute.



    Swansea City Overview

    It has been suggested that Swansea are already on their summer holidays, after heavy defeats in successive games, but there are a number of motivating factors for the club in having a strong finish to the season. Sunderland and Norwich still have a mathematical chance of overtaking The Swans in the table and this will remain the case going into the penultimate weekend of the season unless Guidolin's men can secure at least a draw on Sunday. The Italian also has his own personal motivation for ending the season on a high as it remains to be seen whether he has done enough to secure the job on a permanent basis after being appointed Head Coach in January until the end of the season.

    Swansea were fourth from bottom when Guidolin took over the reigns from first-team coach Alan Curtis but five wins, three draws and three defeats propelled The Swans to 12th in the table following a 1-0 win over Chelsea last month. Heavy away defeats to Newcastle and Leicester seem to have dampened some of the earlier optimism and rumours are rife that former Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers will succeed him at the end of the season. The club also have a tough set of remaining fixtures, with next Saturday's trip to West Ham being followed on the final day of the season by a home match against Manchester City.



    The Swans' main problem this season has been scoring goals, with only West Brom (32) and Aston Villa (27) scoring fewer than the 24 league goals that the club have scored in 35 matches. Guidolin's men also rely heavily on the contribution of Gylfi Sigurdsson, who has scored 11 times in the league this season, while the early-season form of Andre Ayew and Bafetimbi Gomis has not been sustained throughout the remainder of the campaign. The club tried to address their lack of firepower with the £8 million signing of Alberto Paloschi, from Italian side Chievo in January, but his return of two goals in 10 matches only makes him the club's joint fourth-highest scorer, along with Ashley Williams.

    Liverpool Key Players

    Daniel Sturridge has scored four goals for Liverpool in his last four league appearances and, if selected on Sunday, he will be eager to stake a claim to play in Thursday's Europa League semi-final second leg against Villarreal. The England striker has netted 11 goals from 21 appearances in an injury-ravaged season but he is hitting his best form at the right time ahead of Euro' 2016, where he looks a certainty to be part of Roy Hodgson's squad. Liverpool lacked a proven goalscorer in the first half of the season but Sturridge's return from injury has coincided with Liverpool's turnaround in fortunes and there has been no-one more determined to make up for lost time than the 26-year-old.



    Christian Benteke, who made a 90th minute cameo on Thursday, could be in line to start for the first time in the league since January 2 after recovering from the lateral collateral knee ligament damage he sustained a month ago. The Belgian has scored eight goals in 36 appearances in all competitions but has been a forgotten man in recent weeks, after scoring once in his past 17 matches, and hasn't featured for Liverpool since March 20. Benteke, whose 49 goals in three seasons for Aston Villa earned him a £32.5 million transfer to Liverpool last summer, is another player eager to impress ahead of Euro' 2016, where he will represent Belgium.

    Swansea City Key Players

    Sylfi Sigurdsson, who is Swansea's top scorer, has come to the club's rescue on many occasions this season with his 11 goals contributing 11 points to The Swans' total of 40. The midfielder is one of the most potent dead ball specialists in the Premier League, so Liverpool many find that the key to stopping the 26-year-old is to cut out the supply lines, to defend his deliveries into the box with care and to not concede free-kicks in dangerous areas. Sigurdsson, who once scored for Reading in an FA Cup victory at Anfield in 2010, will also represent his country in Euro' 2016 after Iceland qualified for a major Championships first the first time in the nation's history.



    Ashley Williams has been linked with a number of clubs, including Arsenal, in the past and it has been to the surprise of many that the 31-year-old hasn't made a move to a club challenging for honours near the top of the table. The £400,000 signing from Stockport, in 2008, did captain his side to the 2013 League Cup and his leadership skills, as well as his reading of the game, ensure he remains one of the most consistent defenders in the Premier League. As well as making 351 appearances for Swansea, he is set to add to his 58 international caps when he captains Wales this summer in the European Championship, his nation's first major tournament in 58 years.

    Head-To-Head

    Liverpool have dominated this fixture in recent years, winning the last five encounters in all competitions and remaining unbeaten for the past eight meetings. The two sides have only met 38 times, with Liverpool coming out on top on 21 occasions to Swansea's nine, with eight matches finishing as draws. The last time Swansea beat The Reds was in a League Cup tie at Anfield in October 2012, with Chico Flores, Nathan Dyer and Jonathan De Guzman scoring on their way to winning the trophy. The last meeting between the teams was in November 2015, when James Milner's 62nd minute penalty was enough to win the match for Liverpool earlier this season at Anfield.



    Liverpool Team News

    Jurgen Klopp is expected to rest a number of players who started in Thursday's Europa League semi-final defeat against Villarreal and will hand opportunities to the club's youngsters and fringe-players. Midfielders Kevin Stewart and Sheyi Ojo have impressed in recent league matches and could feature, while goalkeeper Danny Ward and full-backs Connor Randall and Brad Smith also come into contention for a starting place. Martin Skrtel, Jon Flanagan, Daniel Sturridge, Jordon Ibe and Christian Benteke are among the more experienced players who could also be set for a recall 

    Liverpool will continue to be without the services of Mamadou Sakho, who has been given a 30-day suspension by Uefa after disciplinary proceedings were opened against him for failing a drugs test. Philippe Coutinho is the latest player to join the list of absentees after being substituted at half-time on Thursday due to illness. He is joined on the sidelines by Emre Can, Divock Origi (both ankle), Jordan Henderson, Joe Gomez, Danny Ings (knee) and Jordan Rossiter (hamstring).



    Swansea City Team News

    Leroy Fer and Alberto Paloschi are set to miss out for Swansea after sustaining hamstring injuries in what is otherwise a fully-fit squad for Francesco Guidolin's team. Bafetimbi Gomis, Jefferson Montero and Ki Sung-yueng are the players most likely to deputise for the duo. Gomis failed to even make the bench in last weekend's 4-0 loss to Leicester City but he could be set for a recall despite scoring only one league goal since August and failing to start a match since April 2nd.

    Score Prediction

    Swansea City 1 Liverpool 1
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    Item Reviewed: Swansea City vs Liverpool Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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