As the joke went before the start of this year’s Premier League campaign, Liverpool had 2 European away-days to look forward t0: Swansea and Cardiff. It is soon time for the second part of this wonderfully creative joke to come around, and it’s a game which the Reds will be right up for.
Following the systematic destruction of Manchester United at Old Trafford last Sunday, Liverpool are the Premier League’s most in-form team, and pound for pound, arguably overachieving. Although a club of Liverpool’s stature should be competing for the league title, in recent seasons ‘competing’ hasn’t even been the case. In order to sustain a title challenge, Liverpool must continue their big game form just 9 more times – yes, just the 9. Not asking for much, right? No matter how horrible the cliché is, just taking one game at a time is all the Redmen need to do.
And so attention turns to The Cardiff City Stadium, the home of…well…Cardiff City. The Welsh club have endured a tumultuous time since arriving in the Premier League as Championship winners last year, with owner Vincent Tan making his rather eccentric mark on the Premier League. When Liverpool faced Cardiff last December, then manager Malky Mackay had showdown talks with Tan at Anfield post-game, after a week of speculation and bizzare rumours. These rumours included Tan supposedly being unhappy with the lack of goals scored by goalkeeper David Marshall. One person who will be happy with Marshall is current Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The Scottish ‘keeper has been one of his sides better performers recently, and nearly led his defiant side to a point at Goodison Park against Everton last Saturday.
Although Cardiff couldn’t quite hold on against Everton, Liverpool will know that they aren’t necessarily in for an easy game in Wales. Outrageous strike-force Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez will look to continue their goal-scoring conquests, despite Sturridge going an unprecedented 2 league games without scoring! The performances of the pair have remained excellent, even when one or the other has suffered a supposed ‘dry spell’, and Cardiff will see them as their main threats come Saturday.
Liverpool’s recent line-ups have left many people guessing, but I see no reason to divert from the system which has yielded consecutive 3-0 victories; a diamond midfield. The only possible change could be Mamadou Sakho in for Daniel Agger, depending on the severity of the facial injury Agger suffered during Sunday’s game. Cardiff will likely remain unchanged from the Everton game, and Liverpool will have to beware of Frazier Campbell, who has caused all sorts of problems for many teams this year, particularly at Cardiff’s own ground.
The stage is set. The talking has been done. Liverpool have put themselves in a title conversation, and must now continue on the possible road to glory. Nine games. Anything is possible.
Liverpool: Mignolet; Johnson, Sakho, Skrtel, Flanagan; Gerrard, Allen, Henderson, Sterling; Sturridge, Suarez.
Subs: Jones; Aspas, Agger, Coutinho, Lucas, Cissokho, Moses.
Cardiff: Marshall; Fabio, Cala, Caulker, Theophile-Catherine; John, Kim, Medel, Mutch, Noone; Campbell.
Subs: Lewis; Whittingham, Jones, Gunnarsson, Cowie, Dæhli, Zaha.
1. Over 2.5 goals and Luis Suarez to score anytime: This is something which I certainly wouldn’t put my money against, as Suarez has scored in consecutive games, and Liverpool have a tendency to run riot against teams at the minute.
2. Simple as you like: Liverpool to win. Obvious bet, as Liverpool are undoubted favourites against relegation threatened Cardiff.
3. Liverpool to win 3-0: Although clear favourites, 3-0 could be a good score to bet on, given it’s been the result in Liverpool’s last 2 away matches.
4. Steven Gerrard, anytime scorer: Captain fantastic has seemed an inspired man recently, particularly with the title possibilities. He would love to grab another goal to push the Reds to victory, and who would bet against him?
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