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Mohamed Salah back to his best as Liverpool cruise past troubled Cardiff

Mohamed Salah scored his 51st goal to open the scoring before Sadio Mane's brace and Xherdan Shaqiri's effort compiled further misery on Cardiff City's start to life in the Premier League.
English Premier League: Sadio Mane (87') Liverpool 4-1 Cardiff
English Premier League: Xherdan Shaqiri (84') Liverpool 3-1 Cardiff
English Premier League: Callum Paterson (77') Liverpool 2-1 Cardiff
English Premier League: Sadio Mane (66') Liverpool 2-0 Cardiff
English Premier League: Mohamed Salah (10') Liverpool 1-0 Cardiff

Liverpool were in control for nearly all of Saturday's 4-1 win over relegation-threatened Cardiff, with Sadio Mane scoring twice and joined on the scoresheet by Mohamed Salah and second-half substitute Xherdan Shaqiri.

The Reds went to the top of the table and relax while Manchester City visit Tottenham on Monday. Can they sustain this for the season? The signs certainly look that way.

Positives

Liverpool keep on getting better and better. There were numerous occasions where Cardiff simply couldn't live with the Reds' attacking firepower. Salah delivered another hugely impressive performance and Anfield has become a fortress, too. While their defence was finally breached at home, Liverpool never looked likely to suffer their first defeat at Anfield in 27 matches. 

Jurgen Klopp's side are on the club's best run in the Premier League since August 2009, when they went 31 games without defeat on home soil.

Negatives

Liverpool conceded their first league goal at Anfield since Feb. 24. Their run was ended at 918 minutes -- the second-longest spell in the club's history.

Manager rating out of 10

7 -- For the second game running, Klopp opted to go with a 4-2-3-1 in order to have a fourth attacker against an entrenched opponent. His setup worked well. Liverpool had Cardiff by the throat for the majority of the game, and the result was never really in doubt, aside from a tense few minutes in the second half.

Player ratings: (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating.)

GK Alisson, 6 -- Not too many complaints about the goal conceded. The Brazilian had little to do in terms of saving shots but came off his line well to gather possession and restart attacks.

DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 6 -- Seemed to enjoy exploiting the space afforded to him on the right flank. He's put in decent performances back-to-back now after a short spell on the bench.

DF Dejan Lovren, 6 -- Won a lot of headers as Cardiff tried to find joy via the aerial route.

DF Virgil van Dijk, 6 -- Unfortunate, as his deflection led to Callum Paterson's goal. To his credit, that was the closest Cardiff got to Liverpool's goal.

DF Alberto Moreno, 6 -- Not a bad performance from the much-maligned Spaniard. But there were moments when you could see why Andrew Robertson is very rarely rested.

MF Fabinho, 7 -- The only outfield player wearing gloves. With plummeting temperatures and a physical opponent, welcome to the Premier League, Fabinho. Once again, this was an impressive performance in front of his home crowd. The Brazilian's ability to take the ball off opponents is exceptional.

MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 6 -- It's hard to remember the last time Wijnaldum didn't put in a tidy performance in a Liverpool shirt.

MF Adam Lallana, 5 -- Numerous examples displaying his neat footwork, but little end product and was rightly taken off after an hour. He was, however, very unfortunate not to score as he saw a header cleared off the line by Sean Morrison right on the stroke of half-time.

FW Roberto Firmino, 6 -- It looks like he's still adjusting to play the No. 10 role in this system. He looked leggy and was taken off in the 71st minute.

FW Mohamed Salah, 9 -- It was clear that Salah had found his mojo again when he tried to score direct from a corner minutes before his opening goal. His link-up play and work rate is just as impressive as his goal-scoring form at the moment.

FW Sadio Mane, 7 -- Mane, who ended his barren spell in midweek, took his two goals brilliantly on Saturday. The finishes were clinical, although his performances aren't yet at the level of last season.

Substitutes

FW Xherdan Shaqiri, 8 -- He will be questioning why he wasn't handed a third consecutive start to reward his fine form. But that didn't deter him. Shaqiri came on and dazzled, taking his goal well. At the moment, he's a better option than Lallana.

MF James Milner, N/R -- Brought on to add more stability in midfield but was outshone by the other sub.

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