Liverpool continue their title fight on Sunday when they travel to a desperate, struggling Cardiff City side for a Premier League encounter in which both teams need all three points.
Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff, Wales
Key Stat: Cardiff haven't beaten Liverpool since 1954, though the number of matches played has totaled just five since then. Those five include four Reds wins, with the most recent in this fixture coming in a 3-6 shellacking five years ago when they were chasing the title.
Expert Verdict: Cardiff and Liverpool each have something major at stake here. For Cardiff it is their very lives in the top flight, for Liverpool it is their first title in nearly three decades. It's not going to be easy, then, for the Reds, but the title contenders are still going to be the massive favorites to take this one. They have so much quality about them and they will be nearly on even terms regarding rest. They take this one, with a wobble or two thrown in, as they keep up their charge.
Neil Warnock continues to miss the likes of Callum Paterson up front, as well as Matthew Connolly and center back Sol Bamba. Don’t look for him to change much after such a big win, unless he is just crazy and keen to tinker for no reason.
Once again, it was a familiar theme for Cardiff in their vital victory at Brighton on Tuesday. Their standout performers stepped up and they grabbed the points because of it. First of all, it was captain Sean Morrison that scored the second goal. The center back is going to be tested at the back for all 90 minutes, but his power in the air and determination in the box going forward is also a threat. Victor Camarasa is the other to watch. He was the man who supplied the assist, continuing a fine season that has been difficult due to the players around him.
Cardiff have two wins and three losses in their last five matches:
0-2 win at Brighton
2-0 loss at Burnley
2-0 loss at Manchester City
1-2 home loss vs Chelsea
2-0 home win vs West Ham
Defenders:Peltier, Ecuele Manga, Morrison, Bennett
Defensive Midfielders:Gunnarsson, Ralls
Attacking Midfielders:Mendez-Laing, Camarasa, Hoilett
Jurgen Klopp saw center back Joe Gomez return to duty in the win at Porto, while fellow defender Dejan Lovren should also be fit to play a part after sickness in midweek. After trying to rotate with mixed results, we shouldn’t see a lot of chopping and changing, despite the temptation that might lie in doing so.
Naby Keita has had a starring role to play in the last couple of weeks, and that should start back up on Sunday after he was rested for the game in midweek. Goals against Porto in the first leg and one against Chelsea has him in Leipzig form, and that bodes well for the Reds. Mo Salah is another that has suddenly caught fire. The defending Golden Boot winner scored twice in midweek and scored a stunning goal at former side Chelsea last week, suggesting he might claim it for a second season in a row.
Liverpool have won each of their last five matches:
1-4 win at FC Porto (UCL)
2-0 home win vs Chelsea
2-0 home wins vs FC Porto (UCL)
1-3 win at Southampton
2-1 home win vs Tottenham
Defenders:Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson
Midfielders:Fabinho, Keita, Henderson
Forwards:Salah, Mane, Firmino
In 25 all-time meetings, Liverpool and Cardiff are very tight in the head to head. Liverpool edge it out, but just barely, with 12 wins, 11 losses, and two draws against the Bluebirds.
Here's a look at the last four results, the only ones played in the past decade:
Oct 27, 2018: Liverpool 4-1 Cardiff
Mar 22, 2014: Cardiff 3-6 Liverpool
Dec 21, 2013: Liverpool 3-1 Cardiff
Feb 26, 2012: Cardiff 2-2 (P) Liverpool (EFL Cup Final)
Bet365 have the following odds available for this match:
Cardiff City are at 16/1 to win, a draw is at 13/2, and a Liverpool win is at 1/5.
Cardiff begin the weekend in 18th place in the Premier League, but there is a lot of good news and cause for optimism after they defeated Brighton on Tuesday to give them real hope of staying up. They have a game less to play than the Seagulls, but they are just two off their pace now and have reinvigorated their hopes. They have six points from their last five matches, with the other three coming against West Ham.
Remaining Fixtures: vs Liverpool, @ Fulham, vs Crystal Palace, @ Manchester United
Liverpool will enter the weekend in first place in the league with 85 points from 34 games played. They will be hoping and crossing their fingers that Manchester City slip up in their match against Tottenham so that they can retain top spot and pull away with a win. They have a game less than City, but they might just be buoyed by the Citizens’ elimination in Europe. Liverpool have moved on to the semis in the Champions League, so they do have some juggling to do.
Remaining Fixtures: @ Cardiff, vs Huddersfield, @ Newcastle, vs Wolves
At home, the Bluebirds have been pretty poor this season, taking just 20 points from 17 games there. This has been the main issue with their season, but they still have a chance to come out the other side if they can pull it around here and now in remarkable fashion. They have lost three of their last four home outings, but they have six points from their last five, so there is a tiny cause for hope.
Liverpool’s away record hasn’t been quite up to standard with their record at Anfield, but it has been tremendous nonetheless. In 17 outings, they have racked up 38 points. They have lost just once away, while drawing five times, their main problem this term, which has caused them to be in such a tight race. They have won each of their last two away games after drawing the two before that.
Both teams scoring, via Betfair, is at 2.2.
Ladbrokes have Salah netting a brace is at 4/1.
Liverpool will be put to the test here by a desperate side, but they will come out the other side with three points. Cardiff just won’t have enough for them, but it won’t be the end for them just yet in the division.