Liverpool take on Cardiff this Saturday at 3:00pm at Anfield.

Last time out for Liverpool

Liverpool hosted Red Star Belgrade at Anfield in another Group C clash in the Champions League, with the Reds running out 4-0 winners after goals from Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah (2) and Sadio Mane secured all three points. PSG and Napoli drew on the same night to leave Liverpool top of the group. It was a confidence-boosting display from Jurgen Klopp’s men, with the performances of Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri being particularly impressive.

Prior to that, Liverpool took on Huddersfield at the John Smith Stadium, with a solitary goal from Mohamed Salah enough to win what was a tight match.

Liverpool remain unbeaten in the Premier League this season.

Last time out for Cardiff

Cardiff sit 17th in the table and already appear to be strong contenders for relegation, but a 4-2 win against fellow strugglers Fulham may be the impetus Neil Warnock’s side need to push on this season. Facing Liverpool at Anfield, however, may have come at just the wrong time for them.

Injury concerns

Sadio Mane broke his thumb on international duty but was fit to play against Red Star, albeit with an enormous cast on his hand, and should make the starting XI against Cardiff. Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita both missed the game through injury, though Keita may be available as a sub for the game tomorrow. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) remains the only long-term absentee for Liverpool.

Cardiff will be without Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Lee Peltier and Danny Ward through injury, while Joe Ralls will continue to serve his three-match ban after his red card against Tottenham. Striker Gary Madine could return to the starting line-up after a virus kept him out against Fulham.

Key players

Liverpool’s front three seemed to finally click into gear against Red Star on Wednesday, and that confidence injection may be exactly what they need to kick on for the remainder of the campaign. Despite criticism from the press, the attacking trio are pretty much exactly where they were at this stage last season, and looked much more like themselves against the Serbian team.

I think Mo Salah will play a big part in tomorrow’s game. He’s finding his shooting boots again, and Cardiff will struggle to contain him, especially if Shaqiri starts again and adds that much-needed creative spark to Liverpool’s attack.

Josh Murphy remains Cardiff’s top goalscorer with two strikes notched this season, and could be a threat to Liverpool if complacency creeps in. However, I would imagine Cardiff’s defensive display and willingness to get the ball down and pay it will be pivotal for them tomorrow – Huddersfield proved that teams at the lower end of the table can give the top teams a problem, so it’ll really be down to the mentality of the Bluebirds at Anfield.

Predicted starting XI for Liverpool

There’ll be some rotation tomorrow, but Klopp will largely stick with a similar lineup to the Red Star game.

I think Dejan Lovren will return to the back four, with either Joe Gomez or Trent Alexander-Arnold making way (a rest would do them both good). Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson will make up the left-hand side of the defensive line, with the reliable Alisson in goal behind them.

Klopp’s midfield options have undergone a shift since the international break. Henderson and Keita almost certainly won’t start tomorrow, so James Milner will likely return to the starting XI after being rested in midweek. I’d love to see Fabinho start again after his excellent display against Red Star, but I think Klopp will go with Gini Wijnaldum and Shaqiri alongside Milner (he may save Fabinho for the Champions League group games).

The front three will be Salah, Mane and Firmino, unless something unexpected happens before tomorrow. The three need to keep momentum going and, with Shaqiri feeding them inch-perfect key passes, they could run riot against Cardiff.

Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana will also get on at some stage to influence the game.

Predicted starting XI: Alisson, Robertson, Van Djik, Lovren, Alexander-Arnold, Wijnaldum, Milner, Shaqiri, Salah, Mane, Firmino.
Subs: Mignolet, Matip, Moreno, Keita, Fabinho, Lallana, Sturridge.

Score prediction: Liverpool 3 – 0 Cardiff (Salah, Mane, Sturridge).

David McIlroy