Liverpool will be aiming to return to the top of the Premier League table when they welcome Cardiff City to Anfield on Saturday.
Premier League football continues this weekend with Gameweek 10 of the 2018-19 season. One of the three remaining unbeaten sides in the top flight, Liverpool will have the opportunity to take sole lead of the table when they play hosts to Cardiff City at Anfield on Saturday.
Liverpool are currently level on points with Manchester City, and have shown signs of returning to top form in the final third. With the reigning Premier League champions playing Tottenham on Monday, the Reds have the chance to take a decisive advantage in the title race.
Cardiff City, on the other hand, have endured a trial by fire upon their return to the Premier League, with many regarding them as one of the favourites to go down immediately. In fact, the Bluebirds only managed to win for the first time this season last weekend, although the 4-2 win over Fulham saw them double their goals tally and perhaps, their confidence.
The last meeting between the two sides was an entertaining affair, with Liverpool recording a 6-3 win over Cardiff. Ahead of the latest clash between the two sides on Saturday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the Premier League encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Jurgen Klopp has no fresh injury concerns to deal with ahead of the visit of Cardiff City. On Saturday, the Liverpool boss will be without just three first-team players due to different fitness issues, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a long-term absentee due to his knee injury.
The other key figures unavailable are club captain Jordan Henderson and summer signing Naby Keita, with the game coming too soon for them on their recovery trail from their respective hamstring injuries. The duo’s absence has hamstrung Liverpool to an extent, with Klopp having just four recognised options in midfield at his disposal.
The manager though, is expected to employ the 4-2-3-1 formation once again, which will put him at ease somewhat. The continued faith in the newly employed system is a result of Xherdan Shaqiri’s positive showings in the last couple of games.
The Swiss impressed upon being handed a free role behind the front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah in the midweek Champions League tie, and should continue as the No. 10 once again. Around him, the aforementioned trio will form a fluid partnership, facilitating clever interchange of positions to evade their markers and get in behind the Cardiff defence with ease.
Behind Shaqiri, James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum are likely to line up in the midfield pivot, with Fabinho returning to the bench. The duo will be tasked with using their high work-rates to good effect before recycling the ball quickly. Another major conundrum bothering the Liverpool manager is the choice of personnel in the back-four.
Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson and Joe Gomez are automatic starters at the present moment, with the final spot being a toss-up between Dejan Lovren and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Recent trend suggests Lovren will start at the heart of the Liverpool defence, with Gomez being the right-back in the Premier League, and the same should continue on Saturday.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Alisson; Gomez, Lovren, van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Wijnaldum; Salah, Shaqiri, Mane: Firmino
Neil Warnock has a number of pressing issues hampering his preparations ahead of the trip to Anfield. On Saturday, the Cardiff City manager could be without as many as seven first-team players as a result of injuries and suspension.
Those are certain to be unavailable to go on the road to face Liverpool are Nathaniel Mendez-Laing (knee), Lee Peltier (shoulder), Danny Ward (knee) and Joe Ralls, with Ralls serving the second of his three-match ban after being sent off against Tottenham earlier this month. Gary Madine is a minor doubt due to illness.
But, the most major injury concerns surround Harry Arter and Josh Murphy. While Arter sustained an ankle injury last weekend, Murphy has been struggling with a knock he picked up in training this week, and the twin problems have Warnock sweating over the availability of two key men. But, the duo might be fit enough to take the field on Saturday, in a huge boost for Cardiff.
Ward’s absence means Kenneth Zohore should get the nod to lead the line for the visitors, with Bobby Reid playing off him. Murphy though, will be the X-Factor once again for Cardiff, with his pace and trickery on the left flank holding the key for the visitors to take anything from the game.
At the back, Peltier’s unavailability will see Bruno Ecuele Manga play as the right-back once again, with the central defensive partnership of Sean Morrison and Sol Bamba having the unenviable task of keeping the Liverpool attack quiet. Meanwhile, Neil Etheridge will be hoping to thwart the home side’s attack with another spectacular performance in goal.
Probable Lineup (4-4-1-1): Etheridge; Manga, Bamba, Morrison, Bennett; Camarasa, Gunnarsson, Arter, Murphy; Reid; Zohore
- Cardiff City’s last league win over Liverpool was in December 1959 in the second tier, a 4-0 victory at Anfield in Bill Shankly’s third league match in charge of the Reds.
- Liverpool have lost just one of their last 45 Premier League matches at home against newly promoted sides (W35 D9), with that defeat coming against Blackpool in 2010-11. The Reds have won all seven under Jurgen Klopp at Anfield by an aggregate score of 21-2.
- Cardiff have lost 14 of their last 15 Premier League matches against ‘Big Six’ opposition (D1), conceding two or more goals in 12 of those games.
- Liverpool could set a top-flight club record of 10 consecutive home clean sheets on Saturday if Cardiff fail to score against them.
- Cardiff have scored just one goal in their last six Premier League away matches. On a more ominous note, Neil Warnock has managed four away games against Liverpool in his managerial career, losing all four without seeing his sides score a goal.
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 2.50
2. Liverpool Clean Sheet – NO @ 2.37
1. Penalty in the Match – YES @ 3.40
Player to Watch
A big move to Liverpool did not exactly bring instant results. Patience was the key for Xherdan Shaqiri, with the same outlook starting to bear fruit for the Swiss international at long last.
The player’s performance against Crvena Zvezda has given Jurgen Klopp a lot to think about. And, more such outings could help the former Stoke City superstar cement his place as a regular within the first-team setup.
Cardiff possess one of the most porous defensive units in the Premier League, thus presenting Shaqiri with another chance to shine. If he manages to do so, a bright future might be beckoning at Anfield.
Liverpool 4-0 Cardiff City
A solid performance against Fulham yielded an elusive win for Cardiff City last weekend. But, the visit to Anfield is likely to be a good leveller for the Welsh outfit. For a long time, the relegation battlers seemed to be the thorn in Liverpool’s side on every front.
But, the Reds do not concede at all at their home these days. Moreover, with the front men starting to click, Liverpool are a dangerous side that has all the traits to dismantle the Premier League new boys.
A stern test for Neil Warnock and his charges is in the offing against a fearsome Liverpool side that should make it a long day at work for the strugglers. The Hard Tackle predicts Jurgen Klopp’s men to coast to a 4-0 win on Saturday.