Not the most fluid or dynamic performance but in flashes we saw more evidence that the frontmen are regaining their collective mojo.
At times it was too easy and that resulted in a lack of urgency, but Cardiff’s goal provided the jolt that was needed. Or maybe it was Shaqiri who did that?
Another three points and more goals for Mo and Sadio, as well as a terrific first Anfield strike for Shaqiri.
The flukey goal conceded took a little of the shine off the win. The defensive record is something to be proud of and giving up a soft goal like that is irritating to say the least.
Player ratings out of 10:
GK Alisson Becker, 6 -- Didn't have anything to do. No saves, no crosses to deal with, nothing. Conceded a goal from the only effort he faced, but had no chance with it as it was a total fluke.
DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 6.5 -- Steady enough, but had one or two near uncomfortable moments against the pacy Murphy. Crossing not at his best but generally a decent performance.
DF Dejan Lovren, 7 -- Presumably brought in for his physical presence and he didn’t disappoint, battling hard against Cardiff’s big frontman Paterson. Amusingly, tripped over his own feet in front of the Kop when trying to get back after going forward for a corner, and was mocked on twitter afterwards by Milner.
DF Virgil Van Dijk, 7 -- Not exactly overworked but exuded machismo and authority with everything he did, the big smooth bastard. Except when he didn’t clear the cross for their goal, that wasn’t cool.
DF Alberto Moreno, 6.5 -- Enthusiastic as always and channeled it in the right way, for the most part anyway. He did give away one needless free-kick but other than that he was fine.
MF Fabinho, 7.5 -- Not quite as masterful as he was in midweek, but still pretty good. Some class tackles again and used the ball well. I like him.
MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 8 -- Seemed to be everywhere, probably because he was. Always available for a pass, always in people’s faces trying to win the ball back, and generally just a top all round performance from the in-form Dutchman.
FW Adam Lallana, 6 -- Surprise selection to start the game. Did ok, some nice touches and very unlucky not to score just before half time with a back post header. Slowed the game down a bit too much for my liking though and I never really like seeing him playing wide. Should benefit from the playing time though.
FW Robert Firmino, 6 -- Not much went right for Bobby. Gave the ball away loads, won it back quite a bit too but overall he’s been a little bit unconvincing in this new number ten role. If Klopp persists with it I expect he will get better, but the truth is we looked better after he was subbed today. The back heel nutmeg as he lay o the floor in front of the Kop was glorious though.
FW Sadio Mane, 7 -- I’ll be honest, I didn’t think he played too well but the goals were different class. His first summed him up. Looked like he’d messed it up and then produced a stunning finish out of nowhere. His second goal was a brilliant run and classy finish. Seven goals for him now this season, which is all the more impressive considering the barren run he had between his first four and last three.
FW Mohamed Salah, 8 -- Sharpest he’s looked all season, even though Cardiff actually played him quite well for most of the game. Sol Bamba stuck to his task really well but Mo just wore him down eventually. Good finish to open the scoring and then two nice assists to wrap things up. Looks like he’s back on track now.
FW Xherdan Shaqiri, 7 -- Rested after a hectic couple of weeks for club and country, but wasted little time in making his presence felt when he replaced Lallana after an hour. Always on the move, always wants the ball, always wants to do something positive. His goal was boss. I love this little guy.
MF James Milner, 6 -- Sent on to replace Bobby as Klopp went back to 4-3-3 for the closing stages. Did exactly what you’d expect him to do.
Jurgen Klopp, 7 -- Took the opportunity to freshen things up a bit and brought in Lovren, Moreno and Lallana. Many won’t have been happy about it, but we all accept the need for rotation so why do we get so annoyed when it happens. With all due respect to Cardiff, if you’re going to make changes then this is the type of game to do it.