Alisson’s 19 and ‘9.9’ Salah crucial in best-ever season – 5 key stats from Cardiff 0-2 Liverpool

22 April 2019

Liverpool reached their best-ever points tally in a Premier League season with their 2-0 win at Cardiff, with Alisson and Mohamed Salah both playing key roles.


The Reds headed to south Wales needing another victory to return to the top of the table, with Tottenham having failed to do them a favour at Man City the day before.

It proved a tough game for Jurgen Klopp‘s side, not solely due to the tricky conditions posed by Neil Warnock and the Cardiff City Stadium groundsmen, with the likes of Roberto Firmino and Jordan Henderson both wasteful in the box.

But after a half-time intervention led by Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip, an inspired move from a corner saw Gini Wijnaldum break the deadlock.

James Milner‘s late penalty sealed the victory after Salah was brought down by Sean Morrison, and ensured a deserved three points as the Reds reclaimed their place at the summit.

Here are five key statistics from Liverpool’s hard-fought 2-0 win in Cardiff.

 

Best-Ever Points Tally

Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum (second right) celebrates scoring their first goal during the Premier League match at The Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff. (David Davies/PA Wire/PA Images)

It is remarkable that despite losing just once and winning 27 of 35 league games so far Liverpool still find themselves requiring a City slip-up to restore hopes of silverware.

This is undoubtedly one of the most enthralling title races in the history of the English top flight, and the Reds are certainly playing their part.

By taking three points from Cardiff, Liverpool recorded their best-ever points tally in a Premier League campaign, with 88, surpassing the 86 picked up in 2008/09.

With three games to play, they can also break their all-time record of 90 set in 1987/88, and Klopp will be desperate to do so with a perfect end to the season essential.

According to club statistician Ged Rea, Liverpool’s 27th win is their second-most in a single campaign, with the record coming in a 42-game season in 1978/79 (30).

 

Alisson’s 19

DUBLIN, REPUBLIC OF IRELAND - Saturday, August 4, 2018: Liverpool's new signing goalkeeper Alisson Becker during the preseason friendly match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC at Landsdowne Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Alisson played a big role in keeping Liverpool in the game on Sunday, with a series of impressive saves leading to a 19th clean sheet of the league campaign.

After disappointingly conceding through Eder Militao’s header at Porto in midweek, this will have been a welcome shutout for the Brazilian, who has more than vindicated the club’s £65 million outlay with his consistent form.

Incredibly, Alisson‘s 19 clean sheets are the most recorded in a Premier League season in 10 years, and is equal to the tally that won Pepe Reina the Golden Glove in 2006/07.

With three games to play against Huddersfield, Newcastle and Wolves, the 26-year-old will be eager to increase this to 22, which would be the second-most since the inception of the current English top flight.

Petr Cech will retain the league-high record with his 24 from 2004/05.

 

Trent & Robbo, Assist Kings

CARDIFF, WALES - Saturday, April 20, 2019: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold takes a free-kick during the FA Premier League match between Cardiff City FC and Liverpool FC at the Cardiff City Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Though the persistence of Nathaniel Mendez-Laing made it a difficult afternoon for Trent Alexander-Arnold in the defensive third, it was his corner that led to Wijnaldum’s opener.

“I was so free in the first half, I told Henderson to tell Trent to put a low ball in, I got onto it and it was a good finish,” Gini explained after the game, with the 20-year-old’s delivery inch-perfect.

This assist was Alexander-Arnold’s 10th of the season in all competitions, with only Salah (12) and Andy Robertson (11) recording more.

In the league, the full-back pair have laid on 17 between them (Robertson nine, Alexander-Arnold eight), with Salah the only player to set up more (10).

They’re creativity from the flanks is crucial, with Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich (11) the only full-back to assist more than Robertson in Europe’s top five leagues.

 

Target on ‘9.9’ Salah’s Back

CARDIFF, WALES - Saturday, April 20, 2019: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah is brought down by Cardiff City's captain Sean Morrison for a penalty during the FA Premier League match between Cardiff City FC and Liverpool FC at the Cardiff City Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Neil Warnock was unsurprisingly critical of referee Martin Atkinson after his side’s 22nd loss of the season, chiefly for his decision to award Salah a penalty.

“I think the end of it was a 9.9 Tom Daley job. I don’t think he could have got much higher off the diving board at the end of it,” he told reporters.

“I am sure you will be saying Warnock’s a moaning so-and-so again.”

Regardless, it was a clear penalty despite the theatrical nature of Salah’s fall, with Morrison giving the Egyptian King too many opportunities to go to ground with his physical approach.

According to Opta, that was the fifth penalty our No. 11 has won this season in the league, with Crystal Palace‘s Wilfried Zaha the only player to win more (six).

 

Top vs. Bottom

CARDIFF, WALES - Saturday, April 20, 2019: Liverpool's captain James Milner celebrates scoring the second goal from a penalty kick during the FA Premier League match between Cardiff City FC and Liverpool FC at the Cardiff City Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool were clear favourites to take victory away from Cardiff, such has been their dominance at the top of the Premier League this season.

More so, it followed a telling trend across the English top flight that has seen the top six win every game against sides in the bottom three, which has now set a new record.

These 33 victories surpasses the 30 from 1891/92, 1978/79, 1985/86, 2001/02, 2011/12 and 2013/14, according to Opta.

This could highlight the increasing gulf between the top and the bottom of the Premier League, but also the consistency and resolve of the top six to get the job done.

Next up for the Reds is the visit of Huddersfield on Friday night, which could extend the record further.

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