Swansea mounted two spectacular comebacks, but braces from Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson ensured Liverpool maintained the victory.
The visitors didn’t give in after falling behind 2-0 in the opening quarter of an hour, storming back to tie it up at 2-2 before being forced to come back again at 3-3.
But it was ultimately Henderson who would deny the visitors any fruit for their labors, scoring with 15 minutes remaining for just his third of the year.
Holding most of the opening possession, the visitors coughed up possession to Raheem Sterling, who immediately found a streaking Sturridge. The red-hot striker caught out Swansea’s back line and beat a helpless Michel Vorm giving Sturridge an empty net to calmly place the ball into.
With the score, Sturridge has goals in eight straight matches, dating back to before his injury spell.
Swansea continued to pass all over their half of the pitch, but offered nothing on the other end, and Liverpool soon capitalized again.
Sturridge turned creator, cutting in from the right flank on 20 minutes and dishing to Henderson in space at the top of the box. The Englishman decided to have a go from distance, leaving Vorm rooted to his spot and unable to keep out a second goal.
The visitors were in trouble but not discouraged. Finally they put together their first real attack, and got themselves right back into the game with a goal strikingly similar in nature to Liverpool’s second scored just minutes earlier.
Nathan Dyer cut in from the right – much like Sturridge did – and he dished to Jonjo Shelvey. The 21-year-old didn’t waste any time, chipping one-time into the top right corner, clattering the crossbar and ricocheting downwards over the line. Shelvey decided to mute his excitement, choosing not to celebrate at his former club and receiving a kind applause from the home crowd for his respect.
Swansea stunningly did not cease in their quest to restore order. Martin Skrtel committed a yellow card offense, giving the visitors a free kick midway into the attacking half. It was taken well, and found Wilfried Bony for a header in the box. The effort took a deflection off Skrtel’s shoulder and nestled past the near post in the back of the net.
Just like that, Swansea had broken under Liverpool’s early pressure like so many teams had before them, but mounted an instantaneous comeback to level things up once again. And all while a quarter of an hour had barely gone by.
It wouldn’t last long though. The combination of Liverpool strikers struck as they have come to so often, and it was Sturridge once again on the end product. Luis Suarez chipped in a cross from the left edge of the box, and it floated over defenders to Sturridge for a free header past Vorm.
The goal is now Sturridge’s 18th on the season in 19 matches, and marks his 10th in his last eight games.
Swansea continued to pass confidently, probing for space before Bony looked for another equalizer on 43 minutes but Simon Mignolet was up to the task for the first impressive display of goalkeeping in the match.
The first-half drama continued directly after the break, as Skrtel was penalized for a foul in the box on Bony just a minute after the restart, and the Ivorian converted for another level score.
The dangerous build-up play continued for both sides, and after a few wasted chances Liverpool would find the winner. Steven Gerrard’s long ball found Suarez at the top of the box, who fired a rocket on goal. It was blocked, but the ball fell to Henderson who rifled on goal. That was also saved, but on the third time Henderson found the back of the net with Vorm on the ground.
Gerrard would hit the post later on as Liverpool saw out the victory in another late gut-check in front of the home fans at Anfield.
The win again will give the top sides something to think about, as it would take a few stumbles but Liverpool maintain a reasonable shout as an outside title contender, just a point behind Manchester City.
Swansea will be hard done by to leave with nothing to show for their efforts, and they remain in a nervy position just four points above the drop.
Liverpool – Mignolet; Johnson, Flanagan, Skrtel, Agger (Toure 63′); Gerrard, Henderson, Sterling (Allen 58′), Coutinho; Suarez, Sturridge (Moses 79′).
Goals: Sturridge (3′, 36′), Henderson (21′, 74′)
Swansea – Vorm; Rangel, Chico, Williams, Taylor; Britton, de Guzman (Hernandez 73′), Shelvey (Canas 45′), Dyer (Ngog 78′), Routledge; Bony.
Goals: Shelvey (23′), Bony (27′, 46′)