Liverpool haven’t looked much like losing too often recently – aside from in their debacle in Naples, or when Manchester City got a late penalty at Anfield – but neither have they been tearing teams apart. Prior to their 4-0 win against Crvena Zvezda on Wednesday, the Reds hadn’t scored more than once in their preceding five matches. What can we expect from their game against Cardiff City?
The visitors cause won’t have been aided by Liverpool’s Champions League endeavours. The Reds’ first choice attacking trio all scored in midweek. It was the first time they’d managed that feat this season, but the ninth in the 14 months that Mohamed Salah has been at the club.
Games where Liverpool's front three all scored:
Watford A 3-3
Arsenal H 4-0
Spartak Moscow H 7-0
Manchester City H 4-3
Porto A 5-0
West Ham H 4-1
Bournemouth H 3-0
Roma H 5-2
Crvena Zvezda H 4-0
— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) October 24, 2018
Jürgen Klopp will be delighted his favoured forwards got back on the goal trail. Salah may have scored at Huddersfield last time out, but Roberto Firmino had gone four starts without a goal, while Sadio Mané had gone seven.
It’s natural, therefore, to assume that Liverpool might run riot on Saturday. The Bluebirds have conceded at least 2.2 goals in three of their four away games in 2018/19. However, they’ve had chances worth a total of at least one xG in three of those matches too, culminating in an impressive three clear-cut chances at Tottenham in their last game away from the Cardiff City stadium.
Neil Warnock’s side also picked up their first win of the season last week too. A Fulham side who concede almost three goals per game aren’t in the same bracket as a Liverpool team who’ve let in three league goals all season though.
It’s an incredible eight months since the Reds conceded a goal at home in the league. At Anfield, Alisson has earned 844 points on Twelve’s algorithm for defence, but 603 for attack. Liverpool’s back line is so strong these days that their goalkeeper has been picking up more points for ball recoveries than for most of his saves.
Even so, our expected goals model suggests Cardiff should’ve earned around 10 points this season, when in reality they only have five. Might they be capable of posing more of a threat than most Liverpool fans would assume?
Cardiff’s raw shot numbers are decent enough; they’ve taken the same number as Bournemouth – who are sixth in the league table – and only allowed two more to their collective opponents than the Cherries have. But the quality is an issue at both ends of the pitch for Warnock’s men.
Only they and Fulham are in the league’s bottom five for xG per shot in both attack and defence. This form will surely prove to be their undoing at Anfield.
Since Klopp took charge, Liverpool have won all seven of their home games against newly promoted sides by an aggregate score of 21-2. Going back further, the Reds have only lost one of their last 45 at Anfield against Premier League fresh fish. Cardiff may have done okay this season, but it would be a shock if those trends don’t continue on Saturday.