Liverpool climb back to top spot with an efficient, relentless, superb performance. They’re one of the best teams I’ve watched in the Premier League, it’s incredible we have both Man City and this Liverpool side to enjoy this season. Cardiff hung on and with better luck might have taken a point today but clearly weren’t good enough to win it. Liverpool are next level.
It feels like a sudden death shoot-out for the Premier League title now.
Liverpool stepped up and struck themselves back in front, shifting the pressure to Manchester City ahead of their derby meeting with United.
In keeping with their season, Liverpool had to chisel out the win over Cardiff, second half goals from Gini Wijnaldum and James Milner – the latter from a penalty – keeping their dream alive.
Cardiff sensed a shock until the Dutchman’s high class opener on 57 minutes. They – and Pep Guardiola – will also lament the miss by Sean Morrison, a free header on 65 minutes. The defender also complained Mo Salah hit the ground too easily for the crucial penalty late on. He probably did, but only after being wrestled for 30 seconds previous.
Until then, Neil Warnock looked like he was relishing Liverpool being visitors. It made the gameplan straightforward. It even looked like the Cardiff coach had negotiated a hosepipe ban in South Wales. A bone dry pitch without a sprinkler in sight – even at half-time – nullified Liverpool’s passing momentum. There was evidently a ball boy and girl strike, too. Not for the first time recently Jurgen Klopp’s me were going to have to demonstrate their patience.
Cardiff were all toil and discipline, nibbling at the backs of Liverpool’s front three as they retreated ever deeper for possession. The hosts wanted to prey on the increasing desperation of the title chasers.
Cardiff City’s Sean Morrison concedes a penalty against Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah
Salah went down under close attention from Morrison for Liverpool’s penalty
Liverpool could have made life easier with a couple of early chances, the best falling to Firmino after the first penetrating passing move. The Brazilian snatched at the shot with Neil Etheridge to beat, the blast yards over.
Mane also flicked over the bar from cross range.
Cardiff had threat of their own, especially when Nathaniel Mendez-Laing took on Trent Alexander-Arnold in a sprint. The young full-back was outpaced three times in the first half.
Former Everton striker Oumar Niasse forced Alisson to tip over from close range, Cardiff playing for set-pieces, although Liverpool’s most promising counter-attacks followed corners.
Klopp’s side began the second half shooting from distance – the first sign of anxiety. But there was a growing pressure which finally reaped its reward when Alexander-Arnold’s corner was slammed in by Wijnaldum on the volley.
Henderson should have doubled the lead four minutes later, the perils of a slender lead underlined when Morrison somehow deflected his header wide with Alisson nowhere.
But when Morrisson manhandled Salah in the penalty area, much to Cardiff’s fury – Liverpool were able to ease to the final whistle.
“Liverpool top of the league,” their fans still sing.
City step up again on Wednesday.