Former Liverpool strikers John Aldridge and Peter Crouch had Some Thoughts about the Reds’ thorough dismantling of Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City side yesterday, which they shared in their respective media platforms.
Aldridge, who got to take the match in up close, saw the lopsided match as indicative of the somewhat top-heavy results in the league this season, where the top six clubs have assembled an impressive record against everybody else (though Arsenal have done their part to slow this trend with their performance against Crystal Palace today).
“You often see games like this on the training ground during the week,” opined Aldridge. “Bring the youth team in and give them a chance to play against the first team and it ends up being an experience for them and a nice little work out for the main players.”
“We see games like this every week in La Liga,” he added. “The teams at the bottom end of the table go into games knowing they have little or no chance of getting a positive result and it does nothing for entertainment levels.”
Aldridge may be overstating things somewhat. Although Liverpool did have the lion’s share of possession and were mostly in control, they did allow Cardiff City a glimmer of hope by conceding to Callum Paterson deep into the second half, which closed the gap to 2-1. There’s also a trace of irony in Aldridge citing La Liga, given that Espanyol, Alavés, and others are doing their best to upset the status quo this year.
In his column, Crouch focused his attention instead on Xherdan Shaqiri’s performance - with whom he played at Stoke City - and noting that his former teammate can bring a new vital element to Jürgen Klopp’s squad. But Crouch also offered that some of the criticism leveled at Shaqiri during the final phases of his Stoke City career was not entirely unwarranted.
“Did he go missing in terms of tracking back to help the defence? The honest answer is yes,” noted Crouch. “I think he felt he needed to be the man who scored and created goals, particularly after Marko Arnautovic had moved on, but Shaq didn’t always do what he needed to at the other end.”
Like others, however, Crouch points out that Shaqiri’s new surroundings, and not least, his new manager, have combined to elicit a higher level of play from the Swiss international.
“He is playing for a manager now in Jürgen Klopp who will not tolerate anyone who shirks their defensive duties and if Shaqiri adds that to his game, he will be an exceptional talent,” Crouch added.
“You need belief in yourself to thrive at Anfield and that is something he has got in abundance. Nobody has ever doubted his talent and now it seems he is maturing. Perhaps he appreciates what an opportunity he has been given.”