Wednesday 26 November 2014

Shelvey goes from hero to villain ... and back to hero

Swansea City 2 Liverpool 2

Henry Winter

Published 17/09/2013 | 05:00

Swansea City striker Michu celebrates after scoring the equalising goal past Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet
Swansea City striker Michu celebrates after scoring the equalising goal past Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet

Jonjo Shelvey had one of those eventful evenings that will grace "What Happened Next?" quizzes.

The England midfielder scored Swansea's first, gifted two nightmare balls that allowed his old Liverpool team-mates to equalise through Daniel Sturridge and then lead through Victor Moses, before supplying a more legitimate assist by teeing up Michu's equaliser.

Shelvey's name also went into the referee's book as well as countless headlines as Liverpool surrendered their faultless start to the Premier League season in a compelling 90 minutes.

Shelvey's face had adorned the cover of the programme and his name was on everyone's lips after an extraordinary opening four minutes for the midfielder who swapped Merseyside for the Mumbles this summer. He started nine games in the Premier League and a similar number in assorted cups but always knew the size of the obstacle blocking his way to regular football, the Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard.

So he moved on in search of regular football, moving to Swansea for £5m and immediately flourishing under Michael Laudrup. This reacquaintance with his old team-mates was sweet and sour in the first half. After two minutes, Shelvey miskicked 25 yards out but was quick to regain the loose ball, brushing past the £18m Mamadou Sakho easily. Martin Skrtel slid in but Shelvey turned and stroked the ball left-footed past Simon Mignolet.

Shelvey raised an arm as he was surround by his jubilant team-mates but he did not milk the celebrations. Maybe he was thinking of his old colleagues, of showing respect. He was soon not thinking enough.

The little grey cells became scrambled two minutes later. Sitting in deep midfield, the England international failed to look up when deciding to play the ball back to Michel Vorm. He was being closed down by Jordan Henderson, such a revitalised force of late.

Shelvey flicked the ball with the outside of his boot towards the penalty area, totally failing to spot Sturridge lurking. He should have been more aware. Sturridge has just received his award for Player of the Month for August. He had been in prolific form. His absence with a thigh injury had been bemoaned by the England manager, Roy Hodgson. He seized on Shelvey's gift and calmly placed the ball past Vorm.

Electric

The game could have dipped after such an electric, if eccentric start, but it continued to fizz. Liverpool were terrific, Philippe Coutinho was darting all around, creating trouble. Moses was excellent, raiding down the left, causing constant problems for Angel Rangel and Nathan Dyer.

Yet Liverpool had the upper hand. Henderson dummied past Davies, slipped the ball behind Swansea's defence to Coutinho but Chico Flores raced across to clear. From Gerrard's corner, Andre Wisdom headed over. Liverpool's tempo was good, their passing crisp and accurate and their threat persistent.

Moses, looking a smart piece of loan business by Brendan Rodgers, wriggled in from the touchline, beating Rangel and Dyer before dinking in a cross perfectly measured for Sturridge. The England striker met the ball powerfully, sending a downward header too close to Vorm, who managed to push it away.

Michu briefly vented his frustration, shouting at his team-mates to raise their tempo. It seemed to work. Swansea attacked quickly. The tall Sakho leapt up to head clear, denying Bony a free run at goal. Michu and Bony then combined, forcing Mignolet into a good save.

Then Shelvey suffered his second aberration, presenting possession this time to Moses, who sped down the inside-left channel before firing the ball low past Vorm. Swansea almost equalised before the break but Mignolet pushed out Dyer's shot and Skrtel put in a marvellous sliding tackle to prevent Bony turning in the loose ball.

The Opta stats wizards reported that this was the first Premier League game this season to see more than two goals before the interval. The Sky camera almost man-marked a crestfallen Shelvey as he trudged to the tunnel.

Shelvey was to have some form of release at the Liberty after the hour-mark. But Liverpool could have added to their lead before Shelvey set up Michu's equaliser. Henderson went close, so did Wisdom. Lucas and Shelvey were then cautioned for a contretemps when Liverpool's Brazilian seemed the guiltier party.

Shelvey's next involvement was far more positive, cleverly flicking a header into the path of Michu who scored his first Premier League goal of the season with a confident strike past Mignolet. Shelvey ran to the Swansea fans, his face lit up with relief.

Liverpool had lost Coutinho, who came off worse when blocked by Williams. Iago Aspas had come on but failed to impress, particularly wasting some superb work by Jose Enrique down the left.

Yet Swansea were far more assertive, pushing Liverpool back and it was the visitors who were happier to hear the final whistle and return to the top of the Premier League while leaving Leyton Orient with the only 100pc record in England. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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