Liverpool will be looking to keep themselves firmly in the shakeup for the Premier League title when they head to the Welsh capital to take on Cardiff City on Saturday. Having gone undefeated in the league in 2014, winning their last five, the Merseysiders began the weekend just four points off the Premier League summit, and with a game in hand on first-placed Chelsea. With Chelsea meeting fellow title rivals Arsenal, the opportunity is there for Liverpool to improve their position in a continually unpredictable championship race.
Certainly no team in the division is currently in better form than Liverpool. Brendan Rodgers has led his side to back-to-back 3-0 victories away from home, against Southampton and then fierce rivals Manchester United. Having struggled away from Anfield for much of the campaign, Rodgers believes his side now has the right blend between their devastating attack and a solid defense.
"Our players are working with and without the ball,” he said, according to Liverpool’s official website. “It's the balance we've been looking for, and will continue to look for. "We play an aggressive game; we've scored more goals than anyone and got into more attacking areas than anyone, but it's equally important for us to defend well. We've shown that mentality and desire in our approach, which will allow us to win more.”
The recent performances of Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel in the center of defense mean that big summer signing Mamadou Sakho is likely to have to bide his time to get back into the team having returned from injury to take his place among the substitutes last week. Lucas Leiva also made his comeback against Manchester United, coming off the bench late on. Jose Enrique is now Liverpool’s only absentee.
Liverpool’s opponents come into the encounter having suffered an agonizing defeat against the Reds’ Merseyside rivals a week ago. On the back of a much-needed win over Fulham, Cardiff looked set to gain a valuable point at Everton but were undone by a goal from Seamus Coleman deep into injury time. The result keeps Cardiff in real peril of heading straight back to the Championship. Sitting in 19th place, three points currently separate them from the safety line.
It’s been a tough baptism for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as a Premier League manager thus far. Still, the former striker for Liverpool’s foes Manchester United views the upcoming fixture as an opportunity to rebound from last week’s disappointment rather than one to fear.
“I was proud of the way we played, and the way we came back into it after they had scored,” he said, according to Cardiff City’s official website. “Now we start again with Liverpool, and it’s a terrific opportunity to get something, when 99.9 percent of the world don’t think we will.
“We’ll use our performances over the last few weeks as the stepping stones to get the results that we need -- I don’t want to be saying after the game that we were unlucky not to get a point.”
Ben Turner has returned to training and if passed fit is likely to take his place back in the center of Cardiff’s defense.
Where to watch: The Premier League clash will kick odd from the Cardiff City Stadium at 11 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by NBCSN, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra.