Liverpool 4-1 Cardiff City: 5 Talking Points and Tactical Analysis, Premier League 2018-19
Liverpool went top of the Premier League by three points, provisionally, as they thumped Cardiff City 4-1 at Anfield, thanks to a brace from Sadio Mane and goals from Mohamed Salah and Xherdan Shaqiri.
Salah gave the Reds an early lead in the tenth minute, as he profited from an error from Sol Bamba’s missed clearance and the ball ricocheting in the Liverpool box. Cardiff defended their box well for the rest of the first half, as Liverpool barely got out of second gear.
Mane scored early in the second half with a bullet of a left-footed strike, only for the Reds to be pegged back by Calum Paterson midway through the second half.
Jurgen Klopp's side ended the game strongly though, as Shaqiri opened his account for the club, and Mane got another for his 50th Premier League goal to seal the rout.
Here are some important observations from the game.
#5 Liverpool's Mo Salah concerns are eased
When the Reds went into the last international break after a 0-0 draw with Manchester City, concern was rife over the form of their Egyptian talisman, Mohamed Salah. But in the three games since the break, Salah has scored four and assisted two.
It was always going to take something miraculously herculean for Salah to match the heights that he reached last season, but his levels of performance before the break were becoming a slight concern.
Even in these three games, he has left the feeling that he has got much left in the tank, but the goal output is back, and he seems to be a lot more involved in the final third.
Much credit for that must also go to Klopp and his change in his usage of Salah. The Egyptian has been Liverpool's centre-forward in all the last three games, and that has helped him immensely.
Salah is a very good dribbler, but when he's played out wide, it has been easier for opponents to overload him with multiple men around him, which nullified his influence rather easily.
In this central role, Salah is able to drift to both sides of the pitch and is also able to use his pace a lot more intelligently. He's mixed his game up as well, coming short as often as he has tried to make the runoff the shoulder of the last defender.
All in all, though, a massive weight has been taken off the Egyptian's shoulders with his recent goals, and Liverpool fans will be hoping that he can kick on from here and go from strength to strength again.