Why beating Cardiff means more for Liverpool's title bid than United win

History has shown that titles can't be won just by beating the big teams.

When Rafa Benitez led Liverpool to second place in the Premier League, it wasn't his record against the big clubs that denied him the league title.

Having lost just twice all season, the Reds did the double over both Chelsea and Manchester United, also going unbeaten afor the campaign against Arsenal.

And yet Benitez's side finished four points adrift of Sir Alex Ferguson's United. The reason? Five more draws than their fierce rivals - 11 in total.

The source of those draws, meanwhile, was not Old Trafford, nor was it Stamford Bridge or even White Hart Lane (one of them did come at the Emirates). Most of Liverpool's dropped points came in games against teams much lower down in the table. The Hulls, Stokes and Wigans of the Premier League.

If history taught us anything from that season, then, it's that beating so-called 'lesser' teams is as important - if nor more so - than beating your biggest rivals.

And that lesson is rather apt for the Reds this weekend. Last Sunday's 3-0 win at Manchester United may have been a confidence-booster that truly announced their title intent - but it'll mean nothing if sides like Cardiff City, Sunderland, Norwich City and Crystal Palace aren't beaten to follow up. With all due respect.

During the week, both Liverpool's playing and coaching staff have been making the right noises, insisting their focus is on taking things "one game at a time." But it's one thing paying the lip service and quite another following up. Chelsea's 1-0 loss at Aston Villa last week is a prime example.

The Reds, of course, have been in sensational form in recent weeks, with no one faring better than them in the Premier League during recent games. It would be all to easy for Rodgers' charges to take a side like Cardiff - who they face on Saturday - for granted, however.

The Bluebirds currently sit 19th in the table and Liverpool will need to be at their best to deal with the terrific atmosphere in Wales. Should they manage it, then we'll know just how serious their title aspirations are.

Raising your game against the likes of Man City and United is important enough - but beating the likes of Cardiff and Sunderland will mean a lot more as far as the title race is concerned.

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