Liverpool piled more misery upon Cardiff as they cruised to a comfortable 4-1 win to go to the top of the table.
Mohamed Salah opened the scoring early at Anfield, and Liverpool were in second gear from then on. Sadio Mane doubled the lead after half-time before Callum Paterson netted for the visitors. But substitute Xherdan Shaqiri restored the two-goal cushion, and Mane grabbed his brace to put a gloss on the scoreline. A routine win in the end for Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Utter domination from Liverpool
The home side dominated the game from start to finish, and despite not looking to be at their best, they never looked like losing it. In a ridiculously one-sided first half, the Reds had 86% possession and they completed 412 passes compared to Cardiff’s meagre total of 35.
Cardiff’s clearances were going straight at Liverpool players and the Bluebirds were unable to maintain even a short spurt of dominance. Josh Murphy did have a relatively bright game, but no one else offered anything of note. Liverpool had utter control over proceedings, and the result validated the same.
Are Salah and Mane getting back to their best?
After the incredible performances last season, both Salah and Mane looked a little off key recently. Liverpool’s attack was not flowing as freely, and their terrific threesome was failing to find their groove. But their form has picked up in the last couple of games, and Cardiff provided a good platform for the African duo.
Mane netted a brace, and Salah contributed a goal and an assist in the game. Both of them looked sharper and had chances to further increase the scoreline. It was around this time last season when Salah turned a corner, and there is a high chance of the same happening right now.
The switch to 4-2-3-1 permanent for Klopp?
Jurgen Klopp has preferred a 4-3-3 formation for the majority of his time at Liverpool, and he had huge success with his fearsome attacking trio last season. But he has chopped and changed his tactics last season, and a 4-2-3-1 has been deployed in recent games. The more fluid setup was seen against Cardiff as well.
Adam Lallana joined the usual trio upfront, and Firmino dropped deep to push both Salah and Mane further upward. Neither attacker was in a fixed position consistently, as they roamed all over the final third. Shaqiri can be deployed in Lallana’s place, and he certainly impressed after coming on. Perhaps the change in formation was made due to injuries to midfielders, and it is not a bad alternative at all.
Things are looking bleak for Cardiff
They are not in the relegation zone as of now, but they could well be in there by the end of the season. Cardiff have won just one game all season, which was last week’s 4-2 win over Fulham. But they will have to build on that win, otherwise things can take a turn for the worse.
Neil Warnock’s defence has not impressed, and they have shipped the second-most goals in the Premier League. The attack is suspect as well, and the five games in two games should not fool you. There’s certainly lot of work left to be done, and failure in doing so could have harsh consequences.
A deep and balanced Liverpool unit are ready to battle with City
One of the main issues Klopp faced last season was the lack of quality backup options. As a result, he could not rest his key performers and keep them fresh. This time around, aided by a summer of heavy spending, Liverpool’s squad is one to reckon with. Listen up Pep!
The likes of Fabinho, Shaqiri, and Keita have bolstered the squad in midfield and attacking positions. The signing of Virgil van Dijk and the emergence of Joe Gomez have changed their defensive outlook. The team is looking more balanced, and the crazy counter-attacking of the past is dialled down a bit. They are looking like the closest challengers to Manchester City, and let’s hope that is the case for the sake of the Premier League.