Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Liverpool 4-1 Cardiff: A Comfortable Win Takes Liverpool to the Top

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Liverpool welcomed Cardiff City to Anfield in the 10th round of the 2018/19 Premier League season on Saturday, October 27, 2018.

The Reds entered the matchday second only to Manchester City on the league table and that on goal-difference alone, while Cardiff hung just above the relegation zone, with goal-difference again a factor as they were in 17th place on only five points, together with Fulham in 18th.

Team News

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was still without the services of captain Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita. The two midfielders couldn’t recover in time from their hamstring problems, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Rhian Brewster remain long-term absentees. And despite having the rest of the squad fit and ready, Klopp chose to make a few changes.

Alisson Becker was in goal, with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dejan Lovren, Virgil van Dijk and Alberto Moreno forming the defensive wall ahead of him. Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum and Adam Lallana were the three-man midfield, while upfront, Roberto Firmino was flanked by his usual accomplices – Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

Neil Warnock in the Cardiff dugout was without midfielders Joe Ralls (suspended) and Harry Arter (ankle injury), but everybody else was at his disposal.

Neil Etheridge was between the posts. The quartet of Bruno Ecuele, Sean Morrison, Sol Bamba and Joe Bennet was ahead of him. Aaron Gunnarson and Victor Camarasa were in the middle, flanked by Junior Hoilett and Josh Murphy. Bobby Reid played further up, just behind striker Callum Paterson.

The First Half – Liverpool Cruise

The game started in an expected matter, with Liverpool calm and patient in possession and Cardiff trying to get the ball high up and into the box as quickly as possible. But the visitors never looked like having much hope for getting something out of this contest, and they were down after less than 10 minutes as Salah made the most of a box scramble to put the ball in the net.

Three minutes later Liverpool came close again as Salah’s cross found the head of van Dijk high in the air, but Etheridge made a fine save. Salah had two more chances in quick succession straight after van Dijk’s, but he couldn’t make either of them count.

Cardiff only occasionally managed to get across the halfway line, and the home team were completely running the show. Their passing lacked some precision and that was perhaps the biggest reason why the score remained just 1-0 after a quarter of the game, but they would always quickly recover the ball and go again. They constantly found pockets of space between the lines and Cardiff’s defence had their hands full all the time.

On the half-hour mark the visitors did have a promising situation as Camarasa took the ball forward down the middle and dribbled past Lovren, but Fabinho was there to stop him.

Cardiff played slightly more compact at the back for the rest of the half, prompting a few unsuccessful long-range efforts by Liverpool, but the home team came very close to doubling their lead in the last second before the break when Lallana took advantage of a good Moreno cross and beat Etheridge with a fine header, but a player in blue cleared it off the very line.

The Second Half – Cardiff’s Futile Resistance

Cardiff tried to be more forward-thinking after the break with Murphy having a go at Alexander-Arnold few times, but the young England international came out as the winner.

Nonetheless, the visitors seemed a lot more determined and they had a few attempts of getting the ball into Liverpool’s box. The Reds mostly held out well, though the ball did find its way into their net after a set-piece – but only after the linesman’s flag had been raised for offside.

On the hour-mark, Jurgen Klopp sent in Xherdan Shaqiri for Lallana, and four minutes later Mane set the matters right with a great goal. Following some good work from Firmino and a clever touch by Shaqiri, the Senegalese tricked several opponents and doubled the score by slamming a left-footed shot from around 12 yards into the net.

James Milner soon replaced Firmino for Liverpool, while Warnock made two substitutions in quick succession. Gunnarson and Murphy made way for Loic Damour and Kadeem Harris, respectively.

With 13 minutes remaining, the visitors’ efforts paid off. They worked a good attacking move down the left side, and Hoilett sent in a low cross. Van Dijk tried to intercept but all he did was deflect it away from Lovren and into the path of Paterson, who cleverly flicked it past Alisson and got his team back into the contest.

Warnock then introduced the 6’3″ striker Kenneth Zohore who replaced Reid, with the clear intention of throwing in an extra target-man for his wide players to aim for.

But their hope wasn’t to last long. In the 84th minute, Salah ran at Bennet on the right wing before finding Shaqiri inside the box. The Swiss international sold a nice dummy to his marker and put the ball into the bottom corner. Three minutes later, Liverpool took advantage of Cardiff’s desire to attack and hit on the counter through Salah again. The Egyptian took the ball from the halfway line forward and put Mane through with a clever pass, before the Senegalese chipped it over Etheridge and set the final score with his second of the game.

The Afterthought

Liverpool continue their stride as they aim to end the 28-year long wait for a league title. This victory has taken them to the very top of the table for the time being, with Manchester City playing their game against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley on Monday. It was a very strong performance from Klopp’s team.

On the other hand, Cardiff should be given some credit for trying their best in the second half, and even managing what no team had done since February – to score a against Liverpool in a Premier League game at Anfield. However, lack of quality needed to make a top team work hard was there to be seen. It seems a long battle for top-flight survival awaits the Welsh team.

Match Report

LIVERPOOL: Alisson 7, Lovren 7.5, van Dijk 7.5, Alexander-Arnold 7.5, Moreno 7, Fabinho 7.5, Wijnaldum 8, Lallana 7 (61′ Shaqiri 7.5), Mane 9, Salah 8, Firmino 7.5 (71′ Milner N/A).

CARDIFF CITY: Etheridge 7, Morrison 6, Bamba 5.5, Bennet 6.5, Ecuele 6, Gunnarson 6 (73′ Damour 5.5), Camarasa 6.5, Murphy 7 (74′ Harris 6.5), Hoilett 6.5, Reid 6.5 (83′ Zohore N/A), Paterson 7.

GOALS: Salah 10′, Mane 66′ and 87′, Paterson 77′, Shaqiri 84′.


REFEREE: Stuart Attwell.

DATE & VENUE: October 27, 2018, Anfield, Liverpool.


Veselin Trajkovic

Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on four different football blogs.



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