Liverpool-Swansea City Preview
By CHRIS ALTRUDA
(AP) -- While Liverpool have done quite well for themselves in climbing to the top of the table without suspended striker Luis Suarez, the Reds are hoping in-form forward Daniel Sturridge can shake off his knock in time Monday for the Reds' trip to Liberty Stadium on Monday at Swansea City.
The 24-year-old Sturridge has been the offence for the Reds thus far, accounting for all three of their goals in league play as Liverpool (3-0-0) have taken the maximum nine points while not conceding a goal. He netted the side's first goal in the run of play this season prior to the international break, a glancing header on Daniel Agger's corner kick in the fourth minute to give Liverpool a 1-0 victory over reigning champions Manchester United.
Sturridge, though, was unable to further his stellar stretch due to a thigh injury that excluded him from England's World Cup qualifiers versus Moldova and Ukraine, the latter of which he was sorely missed as the Three Lions played to a dour 0-0 road draw. Manager Brendan Rodgers is hoping the time off between matches as well as the extra two days on this week's schedule will give Sturridge - who has 16 goals in 20 matches since joining the Reds in January - the opportunity to contribute.
"I think if it was a Saturday game, he may well have struggled but that extra wee bit of time gives him a chance to play," said Rodgers in his pre-match press conference. "I would suspect he will hopefully be fit. He won't be 100 percent, but we'll see."
On defence, goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has made 11 saves while keeping his net unblemished, and Rodgers singled out defender Martin Skrtel, who helped marshal the backline in the absence of Kolo Toure versus United.
"He was absolutely brilliant," Rodgers said of the Slovakian. "It doesn't give me a problem, it just gives me a nice problem to think about. He has just got on with his work, done extra work so when that time came he was going to be ready."
Rodgers' former team Swansea shook off losses to United and Tottenham with a 2-0 win at West Brom on goals by Ben Davies and Pablo Hernandez prior to the break for their first points of the season. The Swans' schedule becomes quite busy as they open a five-match stretch in 12 days, highlighted by opening Europa League group play versus Spanish side Valencia and defence of their Capital One Cup.
Still, manager Michael Laudrup insists his team's focus is on league play and continuing to put themselves in position to be a contender for the rest of the season.
"We just need to keep in there at this part of the season," the Dane told the team's official website. "The Premier League is our priority. I use the words 'daily bread' because it's here that we survive and then do well.
"The domestic cups are something extra, and the Europa League, this year for us, is a great bonus. But at this moment, the Premier League is absolutely our priority."
Midfielder Jonjo Shelvey will make his first appearance against Liverpool since leaving Anfield over the summer to join Swansea.
Rodgers claimed four points from Swansea (1-0-2) last season, posting a scoreless draw in Wales in his return. Liverpool ran rampant in the other fixture at Anfield, recording a 5-0 rout as Suarez and Sturridge each had a goal and an assist as the Reds scored all five goals in a 37-minute span bridging the halves.
Updated September 14, 2013