Liverpool 1-0 Swansea City: Four things we learned

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James Milner scored his second penalty in as many matches to give Liverpool a 1-0 victory against Swansea City at Anfield.

The England international calmly slotted his spot-kick down the middle in the 62nd minute after Neil Taylor was penalised for handling Jordon Ibe's cross.

The result marked Jurgen Klopp's first victory as Reds manager on home turf in the Premier League and took them within just four points of the top four, and there were several things we learned from the match.


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Milner the man from the spot

When it was announced that Milner was to move to the Merseyside outfit, many predicted he could be the perfect replacement for Steven Gerrard.

That was an over-estimation of his abilities; Milner is a solid player whose style is admired by every one of his managers - previous and current - but he was never going to be Gerrard.

Nonetheless, the former Leeds United and Aston Villa man has nailed down one of the Liverpool legend's former duties - taking penalties.

The scenes of when Jordan Henderson, Daniel Sturridge and Mario Balotelli crowding round the ball to step up against Besiktas in the Europa League when Gerrard was absent is still fresh in the minds of many.

With no stand-out penalty taker, there was a window of opportunity and Milner has grabbed the chance with both hands.

His effort midweek versus Bordeaux was calmly finished under pressure and he repeated the action facing Lukasz Fabianski on Sunday evening.

With the game at a stalemate, it was vital that he converted and that Milner did.

It takes great courage to strike a penalty down the middle. You're banking on your ability to make the goalkeeper guess you're aiming for the corner.

The 29-year-old smartly fooled the Swans shot-stopper, who dived to the right, and netted his second penalty in four days.

Given Milner's record from the 12-yard spot, it's likely the duty is with him for the foreseeable future.

Ibe the difference

The fixture at Anfield was much different to Liverpool's 4-1 thrashing of Manchester City last week.

For large periods it was scrappy and quite stale and was crying out for a piece of individual class.

Ibe is still just a teenager but has made great strides since Klopp took the reins.

He's the only natural wide man in the Liverpool camp and has been handed plenty of responsibility when given the nod.

Against Gary Monk's men, Ibe was the Reds' best performer. He was constantly looking to inject pace into the game and was on the hunt for a goal at all times.

He nearly bagged his side an opener on several occasions before the break but was denied by a last-ditch challenge by Kyle Bartley when about to pull the trigger, as well as slipping at the wrong moment minutes later at the back post when Alberto Moreno's cross reached him.

His contribution's continued in the second-half and his cross - that was searching for the head of Christian Benteke - was blocked by the arm of Neil Taylor, with referee Anthony Taylor immediately pointing to the spot.

Ibe should improve when Philippe Coutinho comes back into the team and also has a positive rapport with Sturridge.

Returning Duo

Jurgen Klopp has had a depleted squad during his time as Liverpool boss, but that is soon to change.

On the bench at Anfield was Sturridge and Henderson, and home supporters eagerly awaited their first appearances under their new manager.

Both emerged from the bench in the second-half and they got an almighty reception.

Henderson's return will certainly have delighted his new coach. Immediately he pressed Swansea high up the pitch, looking to force errors out of white shirts, and he was also neat and tidy in possession.

Liverpool have missed leaders in recent months, and suffered in the absence of their skipper. He grabbed the armband off Milner when he replaced Roberto Firmino, and started dictating orders like a captain should.

Whereas Henderson already is in his manager's good books, Sturridge is not. The former Chelsea striker was told to manage pain better after pulling out of Liverpool's match against Bordeaux midweek and one gets the impression Klopp is beginning to lose patience with him.

Sturridge was rusty after he came on for Benteke, but he was a live wire. He gave his team much needed pace and will have enjoyed his return. He almost grabbed his side a second when he just missed Milner's cross-cum-shot after darting away from his marker.

Klopp's squad has now saturated to almost how he would ideally like it and has a decent number to select from over the busy Christmas period.

Top Four prospects

The ex-Borussia Dortmund coach has reiterated that he is not thinking about the top four.

Given this weekend's results, it is a serious possibility Liverpool will finish there come May.

Of the team's above them only Manchester City picked up maximum points. Results were kind to the Reds over the weekend and they now trail Arsenal by just four points.

December will be a key month for the Merseyside outfit. They've got a hectic schedule playing an average of one match every four days.

If they continue to pick up results, they may well head into the new year commanding a Champions League spot.

Is the top four a realistic possibility now for Liverpool? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!

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James Milner
Jordan Henderson
Steven Gerrard
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