Here’s five things we learnt following Liverpool’s 4-1 romp of Cardiff City.
A rare cameo for Alberto Moreno
Following on from comments made by Jurgen Klopp earlier today, the “outstandingly good” Alberto Moreno made his first start of the season. Moreno rounded off a solid first half by teeing up Lallana with a lovely cross, dinked over the Cardiff defence. Unfortunately the midfielders powerful header was cleared off the line.
Moreno was also involved in a strong penalty shout, lifting his cross onto the arm of a Cardiff defender. But, the ball was deemed to have been played from too close to the the contact to warrant any compensation. Unfortunately, Moreno’s performance wasn’t completely unmarred from controversy after some lax defending in the build up to Cardiff’s solitary goal. As is often the case with literally anything Moreno does, there will be plenty of overreaction about any of his play. I think he played well, he showed what he is capable of when called upon. Robertson can’t play every minute of every game this season, so it was good to see Moreno get a positive run out.
Fabinho’s favourite 4-2-3-1 continues
Fabinho’s second successive start once again saw a double-pivot utilised in central midfield. With the injury to Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita, Fabinho has been thrust into the starting XI, rarely putting a foot wrong thus far. However, due to the slightly premature introduction of the Brazilian, in Klopp’s eyes at least, we have had to revert to a 4-2-3-1, the formation with which we started our journey under Klopp. The new(ish) formation brings out the best in Fabinho and allows Salah to play through the middle, a very profitable position for the Egyptian. Once again, Fabinho was clean and tidy with possession, displayed a brilliant passing range and a calmness when in the face of pressure. He also possesses an unparalleled ability to pick the ball off any opposing player, which can be seen in the quick turnover that led to Mané’s second. If any criticism is to be made, it is that occasionally, his decision making is a little too slow. But, that is something that will only improve the more he plays with the lads around him.
A new role for Gini yet again
After impressing so much playing the solo 6 role so far this season, it has been interesting to see Wijnaldum’s transition into a slightly different role, alongside Fabinho. The Dutch midfielder took no time at all in adapting to the new system, really impressing in the last two games. Gini appears to be so much more proactive on and around the ball this season and his physicality, balance and dribbling skills make him one of the most brilliantly press resistant players we have in the team. He is an entirely different breed of the player to the one we signed from Newcastle, having dropped deeper and deeper in his time at Liverpool, his game has improved remarkably after a mixed first couple of years in red.
Firmino, pressing machine
Firmino was an animal in the 10 position against Cardiff, he didn’t give any player on the pitch a moments rest. In playing a little further back, Firmino was able to fly around the midfield, putting in the work only he does so well, with Salah ready to burst in behind following any and every turnover. It was surprising to see Firmino’s number the first of the front three to be hooked with the introduction of Milner. The Brazilian is not short of legs and typically plays right until the end. The reason for the change seemed to be to revert to the 4-3-3. We were ahead and in control, so Klopp decided to give Fabinho a bit of experience in the lone 6, as this will likely be his position going forward.
The wake up call we needed
Calum Paterson’s shock goal in the 77th minute was exactly what the team needed in order to wake up. The second half was played at a much slower pace than the first and the goal came off the back of some sloppy, almost half hearted defending down the left-hand side. Alisson wasn’t nearly alive enough to the danger as the loose ball broke to Paterson, with the ‘keeper barely reacting as the ball was prodded past him. As the Brazilian had very little to do all game, it was disappointing to lose what would have been a record breaking 10th clean sheet in a row at home.
In the first half, we hit double figures in terms of attempts on goal. But, it took us until Mané’s emphatic left-footed thunder strike in the 66th minute to register an attempt in the second half. Following the Cardiff goal, the Reds quickly moved to settle any nerves. Two goals in just over two minutes, both set-up by Salah, scored by Shaqiri and then Mané rounded off the game nicely, painting a far better picture of a game we dominated from start to finish. We must learn from this though, to kill games off earlier on and make our possession count. We were too passive both before and after our second, almost letting Cardiff back into the game. We clearly have both the energy and the quality, it shouldn’t take conceding a goal for that to come to the fore.
A special mention to Salah as well, as he was superb all afternoon. After one goal, two assists and a speculative strike from the halfway line that bounced wide, I think it’s fair to say his confidence is fully restored. He played with a smile on his face all game and it was a delight to see.