Liverpool sit atop the Premier League after a rasping 3-1 victory over Cardiff at Anfield.
The hero of the day was quite unsurprisingly one Luis Suarez, who just might be in the most scintillating form of any footballer the world over.
Brendan Rodgers’ men have now reeled off four straight Premier League wins at a crucial time, as the Reds face their most difficult test of the term in the upcoming week with trips to face Manchester City and Chelsea looming on the fixture list.
But for the time being, there were plenty of positives to take away from the comfortable triumph over the Bluebirds ahead of the two crunch clashes in the next eight days.
Following are five things learned about Liverpool against Cardiff.
Suarez can’t, or won’t, stop
Either way, it doesn’t really matter, as unstoppable is the operative word here. The Uruguayan has struck one of the richest veins of form possible for a forward, having bagged 10 goals and four assists in his last four games. He’s now six clear of Sergio Aguero on the Premier League scoring charts with 19 strikes, an utter feat considering he’s made just 12 appearances after starting the season on a ban carried over from last term. And signing a lucrative new contract certainly won’t slow him down if Saturday’s display is any indication, with a player that has proved unceasingly controversial in the past surrounded with nothing but positivity at Liverpool at present.
Lucas Leiva vital
The Brazilian had the most touches of anybody on the pitch and largely dictated proceedings, both closing down Cardiff attacks and spawning them in turn for his side. It’s only become increasingly apparent how central he is to the Reds’ success given his ability to direct traffic, as he remains the most versatile midfielder in Rodgers’ squad and the premier option for the holding role. Steven Gerrard’s injury may still represent a great concern, even as Liverpool’s form has been excellent, though it could be argued that losing Lucas would be far more damaging to the side’s integrity at this point.
Underperformers are coming good
Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen have come in for plenty of stick even in the Reds’ successful campaign, not being viewed as up to snuff for a side competing for top honours in the Premier League. The trio have has a turnaround of sorts lately, however, each looking increasingly confident as definitive production has begun to come about. Sterling netted for the third time in four games as Henderson snatched a pair of assists against Cardiff as concrete proof, with Allen making five tackles in an all-action display on his own accord.
Following the calamitous loss to Hull on December 1, the Reds have entered into a stretched in which they’ve not only won each time out, but severely battered their adversaries. Since the defeat at the KC Stadium Liverpool have outscored challengers by a line of 17 to three, beating the ‘keeper at least three times in all encounters and never conceding more than once. It is this type of dominance that is the hallmark of an esteemed club, lending confidence to both supporters and players alike, and positing the idea that the Merseysides possess all the pieces to comprehensively outplay sides that should be locks to take three points against.
Belief high at the perfect time
The December schedule concludes with title rivals Manchester City and Chelsea for Liverpool, representing a great opportunity to silence those that continue to question their championship credentials in the long haul. Such a difficult pair of tasks couldn’t come at a better time, as the squad is firing on all cylinders and leaving all comers in a crumpled heap. City and the Blues will be different, infinitely more powerful animals from what the Reds have faced of late, but the belief coursing through Rodgers’ side is a potentially transformative effect that should have the Anfield outfit compete at a high level as the going gets tougher.
image: © Vincent Teeuwen