Liverpool claimed a 2-0 win in Wales against Cardiff City to keep their Premier League title hopes alive.
Both teams had different agendas on their plates and this was an important game for both of them. Cardiff are embroiled in a relegation battle, and Liverpool are going for the big prize. Despite the clear gulf between the two sides, the game started evenly.
Liverpool dominated possession, but they failed to cause many problems to Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Etheridge. The game was goalless at half-time and a few nerves were creeping into Liverpool’s game. Cardiff were content with the score at the interval but it all changed in the second half though.
Georginio Wijnaldum scored a brilliant goal from a corner routine to fire Liverpool in front. That goal was important, and Liverpool seized control of the game from thereon. Mohamed Salah was brought down in the area in the closing stages and James Milner converted from the spot to clinch the three points for the Reds.
Liverpool dominate the game from start to finish
The game followed a set pattern and one which was a predictable one. Liverpool had most of the ball and they were comfortable knocking it around. Cardiff did not press at all, and they were content in maintaining their defensive shape. The Reds had 77% of the possession in the game, and a lot of it was in the final third.
Liverpool completed a whopping 619 passes in the game, compared to the measly total of 193 Cardiff managed. Jurgen Klopp’s side had 17 efforts on goal with Cardiff having just seven in comparison. Liverpool looked comfortable throughout and the opening goal essentially decided the fate of the game.
It was yet another professional performance from the away side as they clinched yet another important three points. Cardiff kept it tight for the majority of the game, but a moment of clarity opened the game for Liverpool and the result was not in doubt from thereon.
Cardiff’s attacking woes are not waning
Cardiff’s gameplan was clear against Liverpool. They would sit back and absorb pressure and hope to grab a goal on the counter-attack – the problem is, that attacking threat was nowhere to be seen. They actually played quite well from a defensive standpoint and kept Liverpool at bay for the majority of the game.
But they produced nothing of note in the final third, which decided the tie in the end. Cardiff have scored 30 Premier League goals this season, which is the second-worst in the league. That output has further declined since striker Callum Paterson got injured. Paterson had found a patch of form and his injury came at a bad time for Neil Warnock and his side.
Oumar Niasse has deputised in his absence, but he has failed to impress. He hasn’t scored a single goal in the league since his January move from Everton. Kenneth Zohore is back fit now, and he could get some starts in the games remaining. One thing is for sure, goals have to start trickling in if Cardiff are hoping to avoid the drop.
Wijnaldum goal proves to be the turning point
Considering Manchester City’s position, this game was a must-win for Liverpool. It was an easy game on paper, but that did not materialise in the first half. Cardiff were deep in their own half and were compact and organised defensively. Liverpool did carve out some openings but failed to convert them.
Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah were guilty of wasting chances, and it looked as though those might come back to haunt them. Cardiff’s confidence was on the rise as the game progressed and the crowd was joining in as well but Georginio Wijnaldum stepped up to the plate.
The Dutch international scored a stunner to break the deadlock and relief flooded through the Liverpool faithful. That goal changed the complexion of the game and Liverpool never looked like dropping points from that point.
Liverpool’s title charge continues, but will it be enough?
The win against Cardiff was Liverpool’s sixth consecutive one in the league, and ninth in all competitions. Klopp’s side has stitched up a great run, and their momentum bodes well for them. Despite the pressure and expectation on them, Liverpool are grinding out results week after week.
Sadly though, it could prove to be redundant. Manchester City lead Liverpool by a point following their derby win over Manchester United. If City win their last three games, Liverpool can do nothing to stop the title from going to Manchester for the second straight season.
Liverpool are favourites to win their remaining games, as their opponents are Huddersfield, Newcastle, and Wolves. Without any disrespect to either of these teams, the safe money is on Liverpool to clinch nine points and make their total 97. Will it be enough though? Only time will tell.
Games are running out for Cardiff City
With just three games to go in the season, Cardiff are favourites to be the final team relegated this campaign. Fulham and Huddersfield are already down and the Bluebirds are battling it out with Brighton to avoid that last spot. Brighton are currently three points above Cardiff and with a superior goal difference which could prove vital.
Cardiff will play Fulham and Crystal Palace, before rounding off the season at Old Trafford. Brighton’s fixtures are tougher, as they have to play Newcastle, Arsenal and Manchester City. Three points is not much and a win for Cardiff this weekend will make it really interesting.
That win will not come easy, even though the next two fixtures seem favourable. Neil Warnock has to demand a mammoth effort from his players, and they will have to depend on results elsewhere for their safety. Even if the title race takes all the headlines, this race is just as intriguing.