Two brilliantly taken goals from Luis Suarez, and one cool assist, were enough to finish Cardiff off by half-time in Liverpool’s 3-1 win. The defeat was not unexpected for Cardiff and results elsewhere kept a cushion between them and the relegation zone. As Christmas is coming, Cardiffkickaball takes a brief look at the game.
Liverpool kept the same team and formation that had romped home against Spurs. Cardiff brought Gunnarson in to central midfield to give the midfield some more bite, Noone was given another start on the wing while Odemwingie, surprisingly, started up front.
Liverpool dominated the early possession, with the defensive trio of Skrtel, Sakho and Lucas seeing a lot of the ball, as they would throughout the match. Cardiff were able to hit Liverpool on the break, Noone coming close in the 15th minute, cutting inside from the right with a decent shot that was too close to Mignolet, but Liverpool were quite worthy of their opener from who else…Suarez.
Cardiff’s tactic of defending deep can be seen in the screenshot below; Henderson (white oval) is crossing to Suarez (black oval), with the direction of Suarez’s movement indicated by the arrow. The defence have been drawn towards the ball to block the cross and Suarez is foolishly allowed to move the other way. His finish is superb but far too much space is allowed around the penalty spot.
Liverpool continued to put pressure on Cardiff and in the final five minutes of the first half, two more goals were scored. Cardiff were caught after going forward for a set piece and Suarez and Sterling easily combined for the second goal, while the third was an exceptional piece of skill from the Uruguayan, curling the ball inside the far post from the edge of the area.
A more attacking Cardiff came out in the second half. The poor Odemwingie and at times overrun Medel were withdrawn for Kim and Campbell, which raised the prospect of Cardiff being hit repeatedly on the break with less cover in front of the defence. In fact, this gave Cardiff more control of the game. Mutch dropped back a little to allow Kim to play as attacking midfielder, while Johnson moved to Liverpool’s left back position. His attacking runs had pushed Noone back but with that threat removed, Noone was able to become more involved in the match.
Cardiff got their goal when a Whittingham free kick floated to the far post and was well headed back across goal by Mutch. After the goal, Cardiff began to threaten and after an hour, for the first time, possession was beginning to become even. In terms of goal attempts, this was Cardiff’s best spell of the match, with shots in the final half hour (and four in the opening hour). A second goal may have worried Liverpool but it was not to come.
Cardiff’s attacking outlook
Cardiff’s better performances of late have come with Noone rather than Cowie on the wing and the attacking outlook is something that appears to work. Had Cardiff gone for a win from the start of the game at Anfield, it’s unlikely they would have got it – extra space for Suarez would surely have allowed him to score while it is a lot easier to go for goals when you’re three nil down with nothing to lose. However, with two home games to come over Christmas, Cardiff will surely revert to the attacking formation seen against West Brom. Whether that includes the underperforming Odemwingie ahead of the underused Cornelius remains to be seen.
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