Liverpool jumped to the top of the table following another four-goal display as they outclassed Cardiff City at Anfield on Saturday evening.
The Reds came into the game having the opportunity to take sole lead of the Premier League table, with Manchester City playing Tottenham on Monday. And, their eagerness to do so shone from the get-go, as they took an early lead through Mohamed Salah, who produced a fine finish to break the deadlock in the 10th minute.
Thereafter though, Liverpool were made to work hard for every opportunity as Cardiff defended in numbers, giving the hosts very little space. Jurgen Klopp’s men still created a few half chances, with Adam Lallana almost doubling their advantage at the stroke of half-time, only to be denied on the line by Sean Morrison.
The second half continued in a similar pattern before Sadio Mane finally added to Liverpool’s advantage by unleashing a thumping strike from a tight angle. Ten minutes later though, Cardiff had faint hopes of getting something out of the game as Callum Paterson scored past Alisson Becker.
But, Xherdan Shaqiri ended all such aspirations as he combined with Salah to kill the game off in the 84th minute. With three minutes left in regulation time, the win was finally rounded off, with Salah setting up Mane this time for Liverpool’s fourth.
Liverpool 4-1 Cardiff FT:
Pass accuracy: 89%-59%
Chances created: 14-1
Liverpool cruise past Cardiff at Anfield thanks to goals from Salah, Mane and Shaqiri. pic.twitter.com/z7AkXUKDBu
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 27, 2018
The result saw Liverpool go three points clear at the top of the table, and they will now be hoping Spurs can deny Manchester City all three points to remain at the summit. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men following another comprehensive win.
Alisson Becker: 6/10
A largely quiet day at the office for Alisson, who neither had a lot of glove work to do nor much with the ball at his feet. Whenever Cardiff did threaten to create a half chance, the Brazilian was quick off his line to snuff out the opportunity. Could not have done much about the goal, which was scored from point blank range.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 6/10
A relentless worker in the first half, when Liverpool had all the control of the game. But, with Cardiff defending in numbers, his crosses rarely reached the target man, bar the one that eventually led to the first goal. Faded a little in the second half, but still quite impressive on the defensive front against the pacy Josh Murphy.
Dejan Lovren: 5.5/10
A mixed bag. For large parts of the game, Lovren impressed with his willingness to help Alexander-Arnold against Murphy by doubling up the cover. The Croat was solid in the air as well. But, his passes were a bit wayward at times. The lowest ebb in his performance was when he was caught napping for the goal that Cardiff scored, as Paterson evaded him before beating Alisson.
Virgil van Dijk: 6.5/10
Yet another time when van Dijk was a colossal presence at the back for Liverpool. Then again, we have all grown accustomed to his solid output week after week. His disciplined organisation of the backline meant Cardiff did not threaten at all, with the perfect example being when the visitors got pulled back for offside in what was their second biggest chance in the match.
Van Dijk even came close to scoring his first goal of the season, only to be denied by the woodwork. Has to be considered unlucky that Junior Hoilett’s attempted cross deflected off him before finding its way to Paterson.
Alberto Moreno: 5.5/10
A surprise selection ahead of Robertson, who was handed a rare rest. Moreno showed the desire to help Liverpool in the final third by always making himself available at every given opportunity. But, he was often found wanting in terms of end product.
Another player who is culpable for the goal as the Spaniard was caught out of position, which forced van Dijk to come out and try to keep a check on Hoilett. Will hardly be surprising if he’s back on the fringes once again for the foreseeable future.
Making his first Premier League start for Liverpool, Fabinho had the chance to drive home the impression he had created in the midweek Champions League encounter. And the Brazilian did just that, showing exceptional reading of the game, which aided the defensive unit to no end.
The solid performance is best exemplified by the clutch tackle he made on the edge of the box, with the score reading 1-0. Willing to drive forward with the ball, but needs to be more composed while passing. Klopp’s decision to ease Fabinho in slowly is surely reaping dividends.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 7/10
It has been that sort of a season for Wijnaldum, wherein the Dutchman has been the most consistent player for Liverpool without being too noticeable. It was more of the same against, as he put in a major shift, working hard off the ball while being quick and assured when on it. The role alongside Fabinho also makes him an outlet in the final third at times, which will only help the Reds.
Adam Lallana: 5/10
Klopp is willing to show a lot of patience with Lallana after an extended spell on the sidelines. But, the English midfielder needs to back his manager’s faith by producing a performance of note as well, which he is failing to do. On Saturday, he did nothing of note bar the header that was cleared off the line, with the end product severely lacking. In need of some inspiration.
Mohamed Salah: 9/10
Mo Salah vs Cardiff City
3 chances created – most on the pitch
— LFC Stats (@LFCData) October 27, 2018
A one-season wonder. That is the tag that Salah was starting to be bestowed with following a rather slow start to the season. But, in a week when he had already made a major statement with three goals, the Liverpool talisman produced another eye catching performance. It was hardly top notch all through the game.
But, Salah delivered when it mattered the most, first breaking the deadlock with a fine strike before setting up two goals with inch perfect passes. His 3 chances were the most created by any player in the game. He is still not quite at his best, which makes things all the more exciting for the Liverpool fanbase, as Salah continues to improve.
Roberto Firmino: 5/10
Another game wherein Firmino was deployed in a more withdrawn role. This time around though, the Brazilian international was nowhere at his effective best, although it was not for the lack of trying. Firmino’s first touch often deserted him and by the time he was substituted, he cut a frustrated figure, and for good reason following a performance where he could not deliver.
Sadio Mane: 8/10
Another player who was far from his best on Saturday. But, what separated Mane from a few others was the fact that he was clinical in the opportunities presented to him. With his two goals, the Senegalese also showed his range of skills while shooting, with his first being a thunderous strike and the second a delicate chip.
The two goals also meant Mane reached a half century of goals in the Premier League, making him the first Senegalese to achieve the feat. Needs to back the goals with solid performance to help his side instead of drifting out of the game at times.
Xherdan Shaqiri: 8/10
Shaqiri would have been surprised to be named on the bench against Cardiff following an impressive performance in the Champions League tie during the midweek. But, the Swiss let his boots do the talking upon being introduced to find the back of the net for the first time in Liverpool colours.
Shaqiri didn’t just shift the momentum but also took his goal well, combining ever so well with Salah before producing a neat finish. Liverpool look better with the summer signing in the side, and Klopp needs to play him regularly.
James Milner: 6/10
On for the final 20 minutes, Milner helped stabilise the ship, asserting Liverpool’s dominance after Cardiff had pulled a goal back.