Förra omgången bjöds vi på en het drabbning med serieledarna, när det är dags för Liverpool att spela igen på måndag är det ett lag från den andra änden av tabellen som står för motståndet. Swansea har haft några stormiga säsonger och har nyligen bytt tränare ännu en gång, till skillnad från WBA och Everton valde man ett mer oprövat namn att leda klubben. I omgångens Q&A berättar Guto Llewelyn(@GutoLlewelyn) om den första tiden med Carlos Carvalhal vid rodret
1. You have a new manager appointed now, Carlos Carvalhal, tell us a bit about him. What kind of football does he want his teams to play and where has he been before Swansea?
Carvalhal is a Portuguese manager who has managed 15 clubs in 20 years, in Portugal, Greece, Turkey and most recently with Championship side Sheffield Wednesday. I was happy with the appointment because of what he has achieved with Sheffield Wednesday. They were a club who had done nothing since being relegated from the Premier League in 2000, but he got them into the play-offs in two consecutive seasons and raised expectations at the club. He seems to be a typical Portuguese manager. Defence comes first but his Wednesday teams always looked good going forward too
2. What has changed since Carvalhal came to your club? Any players who has benefitted from his arrival?
Carvalhal has inherited a squad low on confidence and quality but there have been small improvements. We are more ambitious going forward and show more fight now than we did under Paul Clement. In his first game against Watford we played poorly but came from behind to win 2-1 by taking some risks. In his second game against Tottenham we started slowly but then began to battle in midfield and attack. We were very unlucky to lose that match and it was probably our best performance of the season. There are still many problems to resolve but at least the players look more confident and ready for a relegation battle.
3. You find yourself in the relegation battle, what is most important for Carvalhal to improve to stay up?
It is undoubtedly our attack. Defensively we are not terrible (despite what our awful defensive performance at Anfield may suggest). We have created fewer chances than any club in Europe’s top five leagues and have only scored 13 goals, with only Köln (Bundesliga) and Caen (Ligue 1) scoring fewer. I think Carvalhal needs new players in January if he is to turn things around in attack. We never replaced Gylfi Sigurdsson and our wingers are awful, so our strikers never receive good passes. Carvalhal needs to make us more creative.
4. If you could bring back one of the players who has been at your club during the premier league-era, who would it be and why?
Ironically we are always linked with former players these days but the one we miss most is Gylfi Sigurdsson. His right foot kept us in this league last season. If he was brought back to the club I would be confident of staying up again, but sadly I cannot see him leaving Everton.
5. Swedish defender Martin Olsson is at your club, how has his season been so far?
Olsson has not been as effective this season as he was last season. After arriving from Norwich last January he was a big reason why we stayed up, he was a brilliant signing and one of our best players last season. He has not been able to repeat those performances this season. He works very hard but like everybody else in the team he seems to have lost some belief. He is more hesitant when making runs and a second slower in everything he does. He is still very popular but not playing at his very best. Hopefully Carvalhal can get him back to his best again.
6. What are your thoughts on Liverpool´s silly season so far, van Dijk in-Coutinho out?
Liverpool’s season has been up and down but it has always been exciting. Apart from Manchester City, Liverpool are the club I enjoy watching most in the Premier League. Klopp’s style can be frustrating because no matter how well Liverpool are playing they rarely look in total control, as the games against Arsenal and Everton proved. Van Dijk should have been bought in the summer, but better late than never. He’s had a difficult year at Southampton but I expect him to make a big difference to Liverpool’s defence. He has the potential to be one of the Europe’s best centre-backs. Selling Coutinho for £140million is great business. He is a brilliant player but Liverpool do not rely on him, he is not essential to Liverpool’s play and others can take on the creative and goal-scoring responsibility. It puts more pressure on Salah, Mane and Firmino, and if Salah gets injured I think Liverpool could be in trouble without Coutinho, but it is a risk worth taking. I expect Liverpool to finish in the top 4 again, and have a good chance of reaching at least the quarter-finals in the Champions League.
7. Last time our teams faced each other Liverpool won comfortably, what do you need to do different this time?
Everything! That was possibly our worst performance of the season, it was embarrassing. We never looked like scoring, our defence was shredded by Liverpool’s attacking players, we made so many mistakes and several players did not look like they were trying. I want to see us play the way we did for an hour against Tottenham recently, making tackles, chasing every ball and trying to stretch the defence. It will be extremely difficult for us to beat a team like Liverpool but hopefully we can avoid a repeat of the Boxing Day disaster at Anfield