By Jordan Carreno
Matchday 10 sees the Reds back at Anfield to take on Cardiff City for a 10:00 AM EST kickoff on Saturday.
The temperature is beginning to fall here in the Bay area, but the Redmen are beginning to raise the heat with their performances on the pitch. There’s no match in the midweek, so Saturday morning is the last chance to get your fix in before another work week. As always, all three LFC Tampa Bay locations will be open, serving, and showing the match. Now, to the talking points.
More Of The Same?
The line-up for the Wednesday night match against Red Star was our most forward thinking to date and there was much to like about the 4–2–3–1 set-up Klopp deployed. We got to see Firmino dropping in to play the 10, Salah featuring as the striker, Shaqiri playing a creative role tucked in from the right wing, and Fabinho finally showing all the attributes that earned him his price tag. In many ways, despite the level of opponent, it was our best showing to date.
We had tried a similar set up against Southampton earlier in the season, which yielded 3 goals in a half and a comfortable win. Though it is not Klopp’s preferred 4–3–3, he had hinted after the game against the Saints that this new tactic was something the team had been experimenting with on the training ground. Given that it has yielded us two very comfortable wins, including the stellar performance midweek, it wouldn’t be surprising if Klopp persisted with this different formation come the weekend.
With it being likely that our opponents are going to pack it in when they step onto the Anfield turf, and that the set-up has provided us two victories against similar opponents, I wouldn’t be surprised if Klopp does deploy this new look again. Whilst our attacking play has struggled slightly against all levels of opponents in the 4–3–3, we have scored 7 goals in 3 halves of football within the 4–2–3–1 Klopp has been tinkering with. Also, having conceded 0 times in this set-up, we haven’t sacrificed any of our new found defensive stoutness.
Of course, with a big match away at Arsenal looming on the horizon, it might be a case of returning to the norm in order to prepare for the following weekend’s matchup. Though Klopp and the lads will 100% be focused on the task at hand, there’s no denying that the Cardiff City match is just as much about preparing for the trip to London as it is about beating the Bluebirds on the day. With that in mind, it will be interesting to see which system Klopp decides to use.
Not only will the formation that Klopp uses be of great interest, but it will also be intriguing to see what midfield set-up he chooses to run out. The squad is now brimming with different types of midfielders and all sorts of possible midfield combinations for Jurgen to choose from. On top of that, most of the midfielders, if not all, have been playing at a very high level.
After Fabinho’s dynamic and authoritative performance in the Champions League, there exists a large temptation to throw the old reliable toys in the bin for the brand new, shiny one. However, it should not be forgotten the level that Milner and Henderson have been playing at in the early season and the levels they helped us reach last season. Then there’s Adam Lallana and Klopp’s love affair with the player’s drive and Gini Wjinaldum playing the best football he has in a Red shirt. Gone are the days of predictable midfield trios in our starting 11.
Ultimately, these are the exact type of issues you want to have as you challenge for the title. With this new found depth, we now have the ability to manufacture different styles of play with the options on hand and we have the competition in the squad to get the best performances out of our players. It will now be interesting to see how Klopp manages to juggle all the options he has.
With All Due Respect…
And now, an English lesson: The phrase “with all due respect” is thrown around a lot in football. Pundits and fans use it as a qualifier whilst openly overlooking opponents and deciding winners on paper before a ball is kicked. The key word in this phrase is the word “due” which, in this instance, is almost interchangeable with the word “appropriate”. So, in that light, what is the appropriate level of respect that Cardiff City are actually due?
Although they do find themselves outside of the bottom three heading into the matchweek, Cardiff City have been off to a fairly horrible start. Their season has included two thrashings at the hands of Chelsea and City, back to back goalless draws against 10 men and fellow bottom feeders Newcastle and Huddersfield, and getting knocked out 3–1 by Championship side Norwhich City in the League Cup. In fact, the only reason they aren’t in the relegation zone is because they managed to beat fellow relegation scrappers Fulham, who are on pace to concede over 100 goals this season, last week.
So, back to the question: How much respect are Cardiff City due? From myself, an out of shape dad with half a knee, a whole lot. However, as far as Premier League teams go they’re owed very little respect. Once again, these are the exact type of matches that we should be expecting this Liverpool side to dominate and entertain in. There’s no need to burden this current squad with past teams’ voodoo and it is about time we regained the arrogance that made us famously feared and hated.
Klopp’s message in his pre-match pressers will no doubt be one of respecting the opponent ahead, playing up their qualities, and only focusing on the match in front of the team, but there is no need for us as fans to temper our expectations and optimism.
Also, with that Arsenal match looming in the near future, this is the perfect opportunity for the team to continue to find its top form heading into bigger challenges. Giving Cardiff City the respect they’re due doesn’t mean playing down the qualities of this Liverpool side and doesn’t mean we can’t prepare for bigger occasions ahead of us.
We’re back to the League this week which means we again turn our focus to our domestic prediction table. My surge from second place has continued as I picked up two points last week compared to David’s 1. I now stand alone at the top of the heap with my 9 points to David’s 8. There’s no looking back now.
The Reds have steadily been improving out of this last international break. Our backline has continued to flex its might with both Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez playing so well that Alisson could probably read a book in the goal mouth whilst propped against a post. On top of that, the midweek saw our front three all score in the same match and brought an end to Bobby and Sadio’s “goal droughts”. Then there’s the form of Shaqiri as a creative player and Fabinho’s proper introduction to this squad. All signs point to the Reds continuing on this upward trajectory.
WITH ALL DUE RESPECT to Cardiff City, they’re not a very good side at all. It doesn’t help that their led by the almost extinct Neil Warnockasaurus, who long ago found his level as a Championship manager yo-yo-ing his way up and down the football leagues. Whereas Huddersfield’s position in the table is largely down to their tough schedule, Cardiff City have fully earned their place towards the bottom end of the Premier League standings. Given that we still have yet to fully flex our might in the league, and despite my record of picking blowouts that never happen, I fully expect a proper tour de force from Kloppo and his men. Someone very soon is going to be on the end of a Red walloping, and it could well be this Cardiff City side. 5–0.
David’s Prediction: Jordan’s luck of me picking Huddersfield to nick a goal is all that separates us. I shall make no such mistake this week, not solely due to my faith in our defenders, but also because Jordan is right, this Cardiff team is quite dross. How bad are they? Well, they’re deploying a right back at striker at the moment and their best player is arguably the goalkeeper, so I imagine he’ll be busy in this one. With a week off of no football ahead, Klopp’s main focus should be keeping the boys sharp and building their confidence. I expect them to cruise in this one like they did with Southampton, but even more so. I’ll say 4–0 as our the legend of our defense grows and our already legendary attack continues to find its way this season.