Jonjo Shelvey went from the sublime to the ridiculous and back again in a first meeting with his former club that he will surely never forget. The midfielder, transferred from Liverpool to Swansea City during the summer in search of regular first-team action, was clearly eager to make an impression and more than achieved it by playing a key role in all four goals during a 2-2 draw at the Liberty Stadium.
Rarely has a player had such an eventful first four minutes as Shelvey on Monday evening. Having opened the scoring with a sweet finish following some less than assured defending by Liverpool, Shelvey quickly undid his good work by laying a back pass on a plate for Daniel Sturridge to extend his record of scoring in every game this Premier League season to four. Shelvey, as with the match as a whole, had the occasional quiet spell, but it was hard to take your eyes off either throughout a gripping encounter.
Before the break Victor Moses highlighted an encouraging debut with a fine finish form the edge of the box after another slack pass from Shelvey. But the man who encapsulated his inconsistency and helter-skelter style in one extraordinary 90 minutes made his last major contribution a positive one with a clever knock down for Michu to equalize.
By the end, Liverpool were the side hanging onto a result that ends their perfect start to the season. While Brendan Rodgers will surely have settled for 10 points from four games, he will be concerned that, in the absence of Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson, Liverpool’s previous airtight defense looked vulnerable. In a mixed day for Liverpool’s debutants, Mamadou Sakho had a shaky performance that was perhaps not surprising given it was his first introduction to the Premier League after little recent action with Paris Saint-Germain.
Swansea, meanwhile, recovered well from the shock of Liverpool’s first goal and have now taken four points from their last two matches following opening defeats to Manchester United and Tottenham
The match, though, will undoubtedly be remembered for Shelvey’s contribution. First came the good. The former Charlton youth product enjoyed the run of the ball on more than one occasion just over a minute in as he mishit a shot on the edge of the box before beating Sakho and getting the better of a challenge with Martin Skrtel. There was nothing fortunate about Shelvey’s finish, though, as he placed it into the far top corner past Simon Mignolet.
Shelvey elected not to follow the modern trend of not celebrating against his former club, but he certainly did his ex-side a big favor just over a minute later. Facing his own goal 25 yards out, Shelvey knocked a ball back to goalkeeper Michel Vorm that never looked like reaching its intended target and Sturridge couldn’t believe his luck when he nipped in to slot the ball home.
The goal appeared to shake not only Shelvey, but the rest of his teammates. The home side became entrenched in their own half for the next 20 minutes, allowing Liverpool easy possession. Sturridge might well have even bettered his exceptional start to the season, but failed to get enough purchase on a header following great skill and an equally fine cross from Moses.
Swansea gradually became more proactive and put their opponents under some genuine pressure. Some delightful linkup play between Michu and Wilfried Bony almost resulted in a memorable goal, but the Ivorian fluffed his lines right at the end.
But just as Swansea assumed the ascendency, Shelvey committed another horrendous error to gift Liverpool a second goal. This time the England international drove a cross-field pass straight at Moses inside his own half. The loan signing from Chelsea warrants plenty of credit, though, as, helped by a run by Sturridge, he drifted to edge of the box before lashing a low drive into the net.
In an utterly gripping first 45 minutes, Swansea came close to ensuring the scores were leveled back up at the break. Liverpool were left indebted to Martin Skrtel for an outstanding last-ditch challenge to prevent Bony pouncing on a rebound after Nathan Dyer’s effort had been saved.
Liverpool started the second half in a manner that suggested they were eager to dampen some of the drama that pervaded in the first. However, unlike in their first three matches of the season, this time their defense lacked the resilience to hold onto their lead and in the 64th minute the hosts struck back.
From a chipped ball forward, Shelvey in part redeemed his errors with a skilled header down into the path of Michu just inside the area and, while the Spaniard’s first-time shot wasn’t struck as sweetly as he would have liked, it had enough on it to beat Mignolet for his first goal of the season.
Swansea continued to press in search of a winner and dominated possession in the second period, but couldn’t find it, with Mignolet preventing a free-kick from substitute Jonathan de Guzman curling into the corner.