Jurgen Klopp knew what was in store for his side on Sunday away at Cardiff as the Reds tactically took apart their hosts.
“Yesterday we didn’t cut the grass at Melwood or water it, we knew this would be the case. We trained on a very dry pitch. You have to be ready to not get frustrated” Klopp said at the end of the game.
It was a wise move by the Reds’ boss and shows just how much he has learnt about his peers since his arrival at Liverpool in 2015.
It was another must-win game for Liverpool in their pursuit of the Premier League title, and it looks to have been created at Melwood—nerves? Not for this side.
There was no surprise that Cardiff would look to give Liverpool all the possession; ‘come and play through us’ was the attitude of the hosts as they looked to frustrate Klopp’s men.
Liverpool, for their part, created two real opportunities of note in the first half and Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah should both have done better with their chances. Meanwhile, at the other end, Alisson made a big reactionary save to keep the scores tied.
Naby Keita once again impressed and the Guinean looks to have settled into life in a red shirt now after his summer move.
As the half-time whistle sounded Liverpool were on top, but not yet back on top of the Premier League.
Second halves have proven to be fruitful of late for the Reds. Prior to the restart in Wales, Liverpool had won their last five matches thanks to goals after the break—that was about to become six.
From a well-worked corner, Gini Wijnaldum hit an absolute rocket with his right foot. As the ball hit the net the Dutchman showed just what it meant to score a potentially decisive goal in the title race.
Salah then did what he does best; he terrified the opposition defence and Sean Morrison panicked as the Egyptian got the wrong side of him.
Cardiff’s centre-back grappled with the Liverpool forward and gave Martin Atkinson no choice but to point to the spot.
James Milner—a substitute for a substitute—stepped up and smashed the penalty home. It was the midfielder’s fifth goal of the Premier League season; coming on 80 minutes it ensured the three points belonged to the Reds.
There was even time for the now customary ‘old man celebration’ as he was congratulated by his teammates.
Liverpool had managed to navigate another potentially tricky away fixture at a difficult opponent.
On a hot day, you could see just how much of an effort the players had given; captain Jordan Henderson, again in an advanced role, was soaked in sweat as he went to thank the travelling Kop for their support.
Speaking after full time, Klopp alluded to how the players themselves had come up with the corner routine that allowed Wijnaldum to fire home the opener.
“The boys decided this at half time in the dressing room, they saw the space on set pieces. I love that,” the German said.
All Liverpool can do is keep winning their games and hope second-placed Man City drop points in their final few games.
Up next for the Reds, a Friday night game versus Huddersfield at Anfield.