Top For Christmas?
It wasn't as smooth a game as we have seen this season but nevertheless you find yourself unable really to complain after finding the back of the net three times and only conceding once. A substituted Flanagan seemed to have more of an effect on the game than predicted and momentarily Liverpool began to falter but the Reds held their nerve and saw the game out to 90 minutes.
Cardiff's real focus of course was on manager Malky Mackay, the Bluebirds made it abundantly clear that they were 100% behind their manager on Saturday with banners of "Tan Out" strewn across the away end. The owner of course did not seem one bit bothered but Malky Mackay can hold his head high as he refuses to resign and remains the bigger man in this situation. The friend of Brendan Rodgers was met with a warm hug upon his arrival at the dugout.
Cardiff began the game well under the circumstances and Liverpool were finding Jordan Mutch a bit of a nuisance during the early stages of the first half. With some attempts blocked the Reds were trying to switch control of the game and that chance occurred with a stunning Luis Suarez opener... Who else?
The Uruguayan who has just signed an extended and extremely lucrative contract with Liverpool was made captain again for this fixture in Steven Gerrard's absence. A lovely assist from Jordan Henderson allowed Suarez to smash his effort on the volley, sending the ball flying past goalkeeper David Marshall. Google "goal machine" and you're guaranteed to find Luis Suarez's smug face staring back at you but what's more remarkable for me this season is that I don't think I've seen him score a boring goal, they just get better and better.
With the Reds now having the advantage, control definitely switched to the home side. Cardiff had fizzled out a bit before Liverpool found themselves with two chances in quick succession just before the end of the first half.
At 41 minutes Luis Suarez showed us all his sometimes questioned unselfish side. A break from Liverpool allowed Suarez to carry the attack and at the right moment he slid the ball across to Raheem Sterling who converted with ease. Suarez in fairness had every right to have pop at goal and some will have even been annoyed that he didn't but I'm glad he set up Sterling who seemed joyous after the goal.
It wasn't all bad for Suarez either as moments later he would treat us all again to another simply fantastic goal. It's a standing joke currently on Twitter between Liverpool fans but I am genuinely running out of descriptive words for this man now.
Another beautiful assist from Jordan Henderson saw a back heel flick its way straight to Luis Suarez. His curling effort with some sting behind it flew gloriously into the back of the net and the Uruguayan had now surely secured Liverpool's much needed three points.
Ten minutes into the second half and Cardiff made a double substitution with Fraizer Campbell and Kim-Bo Kyoung replacing Gary Medel and Peter Odemwingie. Liverpool also made a substitution shortly afterwards bringing on Martin Kelly for Jon Flanagan.
At the time it felt like a fair move and there were no real complaints but the substitution definitely appeared to create some imbalance in the side and just a few minutes later Cardiff had found themselves a goal on the back of some pressure.
Jordan Mutch was left unmarked in the box after another Cardiff player successfully diverted Sakho's attention. The incoming cross from Peter Whittingham allowed Mutch to head home and convert for his side.
Cardiff now had some wind in their sails and whilst Liverpool continued to have a poorer second half it still appeared as though the lead was insurmountable for Malky Mackay's side. They did play well though, troubling Liverpool on numerous occasions but the Reds are all too familiar with these sorts of games now and thankfully it did not turn into a banana skin.
Brendan Rodgers and his side were delighted come 90 minutes when the win had lifted them up into top spot. It's so nice to be top of the league with nearly everybody still laughing at the prospect of us winning the thing because yes, it's unlikely but it's more achievable when there is zero pressure. Bring on your City and Chelsea, let's see what happens...
Here are a few of the tweets I received with your thoughts on today's game, thanks to all who replied!
Next up for Liverpool is Manchester City away on Boxing Day!