Football: Swans' revival hailed by Klopp

Liverpool's Lucas Leiva celebrating his drought-breaking goal against Plymouth in their FA Cup encounter on Wednesday. The Brazilian headed home from Philippe Coutinho's corner for his first goal in seven years, even as the tug-of-war over his future
Liverpool's Lucas Leiva celebrating his drought-breaking goal against Plymouth in their FA Cup encounter on Wednesday. The Brazilian headed home from Philippe Coutinho's corner for his first goal in seven years, even as the tug-of-war over his future continues.PHOTO: REUTERS

Reds warned not to be complacent against Welsh side as Origi seeks to overhaul Blues

LONDON • Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has said that it is "unbelievable" how quickly Swansea City have made a turnaround under new manager Paul Clement, despite the club being stuck at the bottom of the Premier League table.

The Welsh side were on a run of four successive league defeats before Clement took over from American Bob Bradley on Jan 3, and the Englishman inspired his team to a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace.

Although Swansea lost 0-4 to Arsenal last weekend, Klopp has urged his side to be wary ahead of their Premier League clash at Anfield today.

"In a really short period, they're back on track. We saw the last result, it was the opposite of an easy game for Arsenal," the German said in his pre-match conference yesterday.

"It is unbelievable. Swansea played good football and had lots of chances. We don't only watch results, we watch performances, so we know about their quality.

"But let's have an outstanding atmosphere and play Liverpool football. If you're with us, then push us - that's it."

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In a really short period, they're back on track. We saw the last result, it was the opposite of an easy game for Arsenal. It is unbelievable.

JURGEN KLOPP, explaining why Paul Clement's Swansea must not be taken lightly.

Liverpool striker Divock Origi has also challenged his team-mates to keep the pressure on Premier League leaders Chelsea.

Klopp's side are seven points behind Chelsea, in third place after losing ground in the title race following a frustrating 1-1 draw at Manchester United last weekend.

But Origi is convinced Liverpool can still overhaul Chelsea as long as they do not ease up during a hectic month that includes nine matches in all competitions.

"I think it's very tight above us at the moment, but you just have to look at it game by game," Origi said.

"There are still a lot of big games, important games, so we have to stay together and finish well."

Klopp made nine changes for Wednesday's FA Cup third-round replay at fourth-tier Plymouth, and was rewarded with a 1-0 victory secured by Lucas Leiva's first goal in seven years.

One significant bonus from Wednesday's match was the inclusion of Philippe Coutinho, making his first start since suffering an ankle injury against Sunderland at the end of November.

Coutinho's creativity was a key factor in Liverpool's climb to the top of the table earlier this season and keeping him fit could be crucial if they are to stand any chance of catching Chelsea.

"You saw it already. I'm happy about the opportunity at Plymouth, that was really good for him (Coutinho), for us," said the Liverpool manager.

"Even Phil Coutinho cannot be back on the pitch and immediately be 100 per cent. I'm happy about this, one of the best news for sure."

For Clement, having started his reign with a victory and a defeat, he will next be tasked with the challenge of facing Liverpool today and games against Manchester City and Chelsea to come next month.

Swansea go into the weekend only one point from safety, despite being bottom of the table.

Clement has moved quickly in the transfer market, signing midfielder Tom Carroll from Tottenham and left-back Martin Olsson from Norwich.

Both are likely to make debuts against Liverpool, but it will be even more significant if Iceland playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson is still at the Liberty Stadium when the transfer window shuts.

"It's definitely important," said Swansea midfielder Jack Cork.

"Gylfi has scored or assisted nearly all of our goals. He's a huge part of this team. We really need to keep everyone together for the second half of the season."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2017, with the headline 'Swans' revival hailed by Klopp'. Print Edition | Subscribe