Liverpool vs Cardiff
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Liverpool welcome Premier League strugglers Cardiff to Anfield on Saturday afternoon having pushed aside Red Star Belgrade 4-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
It feels like the Reds have come through a fairly tricky period almost unscathed over the last few weeks, after facing some top sides domestically and across Europe. Cardiff, on the other hand, managed their first league win against Fulham last time out and managed to leapfrog the Cottagers out of the relegation places on goal difference, after an emphatic 4-2 victory.
Anfield has been a fortress for Liverpool over the last couple of seasons and this season has started no different with the Reds notching up five wins, a draw and only a single defeat in a league cup fixture against Chelsea. As for Warnock’s Cardiff, they have only managed a single point on the road this season which came in a 0-0 against fellow strugglers Huddersfield. As well as only having picked up a mere one point, they have only managed one goal on their travels too, which somewhat surprisingly came against Chelsea in a 4-1 defeat. Couple this with the Merseysiders five clean sheets in seven home games and we can be certain that the away side will find this a very tough ask.
Last weekend, Liverpool crawled to a 0-1 victory at Huddersfield. They struggled in parts, dealing with a lot of unwarranted pressure and being extremely wasteful in the final first. Thankfully, for Klopp and the Reds, their midweek fixture saw a much more fluent Liverpool side; a Liverpool side which the majority of us are used to seeing over the past couple of seasons. Red Star Belgrade were no match for Liverpool on a cold night and the front three again reminded everyone of what they can achieve when they are on top of their game. 4-0 was an understatement, it could have been a lot more as Liverpool were relentless for the entirety of the match. This fixture could be the start of their push to become Premier League champions.
However, Cardiff will be confident coming into the fixture. Staggeringly, the Bluebirds scored as many goals in their last fixture (4) than they had managed to do in their earlier eight games of the season. They will be hoping to face a Liverpool side who aren’t on top of their game this weekend and will be praying for a bit of luck along the way. Ultimately, they will be happy to come away with anything from this game with a point being the most likely outcome.
Liverpool have only lost one of their last 45 home matches against newly promoted teams. Under Jurgen Klopp, they’ve seen an aggregate score of 21-2 across seven games and seven victories. The stats pile up against Cardiff for this clash but this is football and sometimes the expected is not always the case.
The last 10 fixtures between the two sides have all seen three or more goals and summer signing, Alisson Becker, will be hopeful no goals will be hitting the back of his net as he is set to equal the Liverpool record for clean sheets in his first 10 appearances, a record which would equal that of Jose ‘Pepe’ Reina. As for Mo Salah, he will be upbeat with this stat and will look to add to his 50 goals for the club. The Egyptian secured his 50th goal in his 65th appearance for the club during the week as he reminded everyone of his ability in Liverpool’s destructive front three.
Jurgen Klopp will be left with a headache again come Saturday as new signings Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabinho continued to impress with their limited pitch time. Fabinho picked up his first start for the Reds mid-week and delivered an impressive performance in front of the Anfield faithful. The Brazilian was at the forefront of attacks, driving the ball forward when he could and he was the first line of defence when Liverpool didn’t have the ball. There were countless occasions where Fabinho flew into tackles and managed to come away with the ball most times. As a result of this, Klopp will have to think carefully of his midfield three come Saturday’s fixture.
Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita look likely to miss out with hamstring injuries picked up against Huddersfield and on international duty respectfully. Sadio Mane would have been a doubt earlier in the week having had surgery on his hand and having missed the Huddersfield game, but the midfielder completed 90 minutes midweek and should be raring to go.
As far as Neil Warnock is concerned, he will again be without Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Lee Peltier and Danny Ward who are all hampered with injuries. Cardiff will also be without Joe Ralls who is serving the last of a three-match ban in this trip to the North West. Gary Madine, who missed the Fulham victory due to a virus, could return to the matchday squad.
Predicted Starting XI’s:
Liverpool: (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Milner; Mane, Firmino, Salah
Cardiff: (4-4-1-1) – Etheridge; Ecuele Bruno, Morrison, Bamba, Bennett; Camarasa, Gunnarsson, Arter, Murphy; Reid; Paterson
Prediction: Liverpool 4 Cardiff 1
Cardiff with their tales up from last weekend to grab a goal but to succumb to an electric Liverpool side. Goals likely to come from Liverpool’s front three again as they begin to find their feet in front of goal once more.