Saturday, 21 December 2013

Liverpool vs Cardiff - LIVE Analysis + Review:

Interesting: Liverpool hosted Cardiff at Anfield in the early afternoon game today, after news that Suarez signed a new long-term contract with The Reds

Hello everyone and welcome to my latest blog post, where I have LIVE analysis and a review from today's early afternoon match between Liverpool and Cardiff. 

The big news heading into this game was the headlines officially confirmed yesterday afternoon, with Liverpool's talisman and Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez signing a new long-term contract worth a reported £200,000 pounds-a-week on a four-year contract deal - which was a literal early Christmas present for Liverpool fans everywhere. 

Putting pen to paper: Suarez was pictured at the Liverpool base yesterday signing a new contract.

Also, Cardiff manager Malky Mackay was heavily under pressure to perform, with newspaper reports across England and Wales suggesting he could be sacked straight after the match unless his side beat Liverpool. 

Unfair expectations? Malky Mackay is under increasing pressure to succeed at Cardiff, with a weak squad depth

So, this was a fascinating game for the neutral, but also an interesting but tense match for both sets of fans;
Liverpool went into this match knowing a win could mean they move to the top of the table at Christmas, with Arsenal playing against Chelsea on Monday night (if results go their way) 

The game:

From the start, Liverpool pressed high up the pitch and put pressure on the visitors - with Suarez (who else?) breaking the deadlock in the 25th minute with a half-volley which flew into the bottom corner of the net after some good build-up play outside the box by midfielders Jordan Henderson and Phillipe Coutinho. 

Well-struck: Suarez breaks the deadlock with a half-volley finish after 25 minutes. 
18th in the league: Suarez celebrates opening the scoring for Liverpool with his team-mates.

Liverpool were looking dangerous on the counter attack every time they had the ball in Cardiff's half of the pitch - simply because they were dominating possession and had pace on the counter attack which was too much for Medel and Gunnarsson to handle at times. 

It got from bad to worse for Cardiff soon after in the 42nd minute, with Suarez unselfishly squaring the ball to team-mate and young English forward Raheem Sterling who slotted the ball past goalkeeper Marshall who could only stare at the ball as it slide past him. A goal and an assist before half-time for Suarez, couldn't get any better, right? Wrong. 

Two easy: Sterling slots past the helpless goalkeeper to make it 2-0 to Liverpool.

Clinical: Sterling celebrates his 3rd goal in 4 games for Liverpool
Suarez completed his brace on the stroke of half-time with a beautifully struck curling finish which beat the keeper into the corner of the net to make it 3-0 and comfortable for The Reds, who went into the break knowing they had a safe cushion but understood they could have been 5 or 6 goals ahead if they had taken their chances in-front of goal. 

The second-half was an improved performance from Cardiff, with manager Malky Mackay obviously speaking to his team at half-time about their defensive shape and attacking force - because both were pretty much non-existent for the most part. 

They looked more organized in defence and held the ball for longer periods in midfield, with substitutions playing a part in their success at passing the ball more fluidly. 

Suarez and co found it harder to break down the Cardiff defence, and had to either pass the ball around until they found space, or look for defence-splitting through balls to test the goalkeeper. 

Cardiff even got a goal for their efforts in the 58th minute, thanks to midfielder Jordon Mutch who took advantage of some sloppy Liverpool defending in the box to poke past Mignolet and make it 3-1. 

The game eventually ended 3-1, with Liverpool moving up to the top of the league, one point ahead of 2nd placed Arsenal who play on Monday night. 

Cardiff played much better and were more compact in midfield in the second half, if they started the game the same way then Suarez would not have destroyed their defence as easily - he can create his own chances but is not good if many players are closing him down constantly. 

My Man Of The Match:

Luis Suarez (obviously)
What can I say? 2 goals and an assist for the Uruguayan striker, breaking records and facts galore for the Liverpool talisman. What a way to celebrate a new contract, huh?

FACT: Luis Suarez has now scored 19 goals in the EPL alone this season, which is 6 more than his closest Golden Boot rival - Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero. 

RECORD: Suarez has now become the first player in the EPL to score 10 goals in a single month.

2 good: Suarez celebrates completing his brace against Cardiff, and wins my MOTM.
He worked hard throughout the game, could have easily had a hat-trick but unselfishly played through his team-mates on several occasions to no avail. He will be key to Liverpool's title challenge - they look like a different team without him. 

But surely if he keeps up this dominant and destructive form, it will be hard to keep hold of him? This will be interesting to see how this plays out..

Thank you for reading as always, I hope you enjoyed this blog post as much as I did writing it - I appreciate all of your daily views and I will have more football content over this holiday period.

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