Jordi Amat

Swansea City 0-1 Liverpool: Henderson’s deflected goal keeps Reds right in top-four race

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Liverpool’s surge up the Premier League table and quest for Champions League qualification continued its fierce upward swing on Monday, as the Reds beat Swansea City, 1-0, at the Liberty Stadium.

Jordan Henderson (kind of) scored the game’s only goal, as Liverpool (54 points) move to within two points of fourth-placed Manchester United (56) and the fourth and final Champions League place.

[ RELATED: Watch full match replays ]

With Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers facing his former club, a side which still holds onto a number of the Northern Irishman’s philosophical ideas, both sides struggled to create chances in the game’s opening 45 minutes, as each was content to control the game through possession and move the ball around the middle third of the field so well.

Philippe Coutinho saw the second half’s first real chance turned away by goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski after Raheem Sterling got to the endline and cut the ball back for the Brazilian inside the penalty area.

[ RELATED: Latest Premier League standings ]

Liverpool, so desperately needing three points, up the pressure and numbers thrown forward as the second half wore on, and were finally rewarded for their endeavors, as Swansea defender Jordi Amat attempted to clear the ball from just outside his own penalty area, but his sliding challenge ricocheted off the leg of the onrushing Henderson and looped over the head of Fabianski, finding the back of the net.

Daniel Sturridge nearly gave Liverpool a second and game-sealing goal with seconds to play in stoppage time, but his far-post shot clanged off the post after Coutinho picked out the Englishman through the center of the field.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

With third- and fourth-placed Arsenal and Manchester United victorious over the weekend, nothing short of all three points against Swansea would have done Liverpool any good. With the victory on Monday, the Reds haven’t lost a league game since mid-December (13 games unbeaten).

Up next for Liverpool, it’s Manchester United (their last league defeat) at Anfield and away to Arsenal in back-to-back games. If they finish third our fourth, they’ll have earned it over the next two weeks.

LINEUPS

Swansea City: Fabianski, Naughton, Amat, Williams, Taylor, Sung-yueng (Dyer 80′), Shelvey, Sigurdsson (Emnes 89′), Gomis, Routledge (Montero 73′)

Liverpool: Mignolet, Can, Skrtel, Sakho, Allen, Henderson, Lallana (Johnson 88′), Moreno (Gerrard 64′), Coutinho, Sterling, Sturridge

Goals: Henderson (68′)

Watch Live: Swansea City vs. West Bromwich Albion (Lineups and Discuss)

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Both Swansea and West Brom could use a result on Saturday, but it’s likely the visitors will be more desperate for points from the match at Liberty Stadium (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET online via Live Extra).

The hosts will be smarting after last week’s draw with Crystal Palace, as the incident that led to Palace’s penalty appeared to have taken place outside the area. But Swansea will need to simply shake off the cobwebs and move forward, as, with just 29 points, they’re only four points above the drop and are in serious need of a little cushioning.

West Brom, on the other hand, are even on points with 18th-placed Cardiff, although at least they have a game in hand. But considering Pepe Mel has yet to win a match since being appointed on January 9th, it’s tough to believe the rest of the Baggies’ season will be an easy one. But the visitors will have to do better than last week’s 3-0 lost to Manchester United…right?

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Chico Flores is out after seeing red last weekend, so it’s Jordi Amat that steps in. Up front, Gary Monk has tinkered with his attack some, keeping Wilfried Bony up top but replacing Pablo Hernández with José Cañas, as the former picked up an injury last week. It’s Roland Lamah in for Nathan Dyer, but the biggest news must be that Michu is back and on the bench.

Mel shuffles his lineup somewhat after last week’s poor showing. Victor Anichebe keeps his place up top, but Zoltán Gera drops to the bench, while Morgan Amalfitano and Chris Brunt are out. Instead it’s Stéphane Sessègnon and Graham Dorrans – getting his first start since opening day. Craig Dawson steps up in the back, James Morrison replaces Claudio Yacob and, from the way the Baggies wrote their lineup, it looks like Liam Ridgewell is playing in midfield. Anything is possible when you’ve got nothing to lose.

LINEUPS

Swansea City: Vorm, Rangel, Amat, Williams, Davies, Britton, Canas, de Guzman, Routledge, Lamah, Bony.

Subs: Tremmel, Tiendalli, Taylor, Hernandez, Emnes, Michu, Lita

West Bromwich Albion: Foster, Dawson, McAuley, Olsson, Reid, Morrison, Mulumbu, Dorrans, Ridgewell, Sessegnon, Anichebe

Subs: Myhill, O’Neil, Vydra, Gera, Berahino, Sinclair, Thievy