The Warm Down: National warning as Mohamed Salah reignites attacking prowess against Cardiff
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The Warm Down: National warning as Mohamed Salah reignites attacking prowess against Cardiff

Liverpool emerged 4-1 winners against Cardiff on Saturday as the Reds flew to the top of the Premier League table and Mohamed Salah was the catalyst for everything brilliant produced on the day.

Joshua Kerr

Any whispers of 'one season wonder',  'he's not the same', 'maybe he's lost his edge' are firmly being diminished as the Egyptian king is beginning to rule the Premier League once again.

After a month without finding the net, eyebrows were being raised, questions being flung and growing concerns over the forward's loss of sparkle.

Mohamed Salah has well and truly blown those worries out of the water with a fantastic week for the Liverpool man. Three games, four goals - a man possessed to return to his best.

Anfield has emerged as home for Salah and the former Chelsea and Roma man has used the Merseyside outfit as his ticket to global stardom.

Salah unforgiving to punish hapless Bluebirds

He has become the elite driving force to this Liverpool side in a team beaming with confidence and it's scary to think the heights Jurgen Klopp's side could reach with the Egyptian firing on all cylinders.

After breaking yet another record in his short time with the Reds in which the Liverpool No.11 became the quickest players to reach half a century of goals in the clubs history after firing two against Belgrade in the Champions League.

Salah's week didn't halt there as the winger inspired the Reds to a comfortable 4-1 victory against Cardiff City to take Liverpool to the summit of the Premier League table.

Having opened the scoring early on in the game after he thundered home his seventh goal of the season, the revived winger then helped cool proceedings despite a nervy last 10 minutes into the clash.

After Callum Paterson gave the Bluebirds hope with 13 minutes left to play, Salah took the game by the scruff of the neck to secure the points.

There wasn't to be a new club record of 10 consecutive top-flight home clean sheets as Klopp's impressive defensive unit conceded for the first time in over eight months - a record that dated back to February.

However, it was Salah who provided the assist to ensure no blood was spilled for the Reds as the forward teed up substitute Xherdan Shaqiri to fire his first Liverpool goal before also creating the fourth for Sadio Mane - who bagged a brace.

In the space of seven days, Liverpool have recorded three crucial wins to see them leading their respected leagues both domestically as well as in Europe. 

Shaqiri continuing to unlock attacking dynamic

Salah's contributions on Saturday were the highlight for all in attendance; however, the efforts of Shaqiri and Mane to raise the stakes has certainly not gone unnoticed as the attacking spine of the team is beginning to click which bodes well for the challenges ahead.

Despite going seven games without finding the net and not registering a league goal since September 1st, Mane now has three goals in his last two and his classy double at the helm yesterday ensured he remained only one short of Eden Hazard and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who currently lead the race for the Golden Boot.

Whereas Shaqiri continues to go from strength to strength establishing himself as the undeniable bargain of the summer. His time on Merseyside has only been short, but the former Stoke man has been a revelation since his £13 million move.

The Swiss international was unfortunate not to retain his place after his devastating display midweek against Belgrade, but his impact from the bench reminded Anfield of what the game had been missing.

Klopp decision to rest players pays off

Alberto Moreno made his inaugural league start of the campaign - the Spaniards first domestic start since April. Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana also returned to the team as Joe Gomez, Andrew Robertson and Shaqiri all earnt themselves a much-needed rest.

The Reds didn't take long to punish the Bluebirds after Gini Wijnaldum and Mane had shots blocked before the ball fell to Salah who thundered home in devastating fashion.

Cardiff looked to keep their shape and frustrate the Reds despite the early peg back and Klopp's troops completely dominated proceedings as their merciless maintenance of the ball saw Liverpool with over 85 per cent of possession. 

The Reds should have added a second when captain Virgil van Dijk saw his header deflect off the post from a Salah cross. The Netherlands skipper wore the armband with pride after being chosen by his teammates as Liverpool's primary skipper in the absence of Jordan Henderson and James Milner.

Fabinho made another impressive display as the Brazilian enjoyed a solid Premier League start linking up well with Wijnaldum in midfield. 

As the second-half beckoned, the Reds intensity suddenly dropped. Their early fluidity and flair turned lacklustre and Cardiff sniffed themselves back into the affair. 

The introduction to Shaqiri proved vital as minutes after his arrival Mane ended his eight-week goal drought to double the Reds advantage.

Firmino and Moreno linked up well before Mane took control of the move to dart past Bruno Manga and hammer home a left-footed thunderbolt beyond Neil Etheridge.

Suddenly the Reds looked to be cruising, however, with 13 minutes to play Alisson Becker conceded his first league goal at Anfield to shatter Liverpool's hopes of breaking their defensive record.

Junior Hoilett's cross was fizzled goalbound before deflecting off the shin of Van Dijk where Paterson was lurking to stick home a way back into this contest as well a capitalise on some rare defensive sloppiness from Klopp's defensive unit.

Anxiety began to spiral the ground as Cardiff grew in confidence, the Bluebirds were looking to seal an unlikely point and the Reds needed someone to calm any oncoming storm.

The man for the occasion proved to be Shaqiri who took control in ice-cool fashion to kill the game for the hosts. The little magician latched onto Salah's through ball, he bewildered two Cardiff defenders with his quick feet before slotting home in the bottom corner.

Mane smelt blood from the visitors and wrapped up the show with minutes to play. A deft one-two with Salah saw the No.10 dart past three Bluebird defenders with his electric pace before emphatically dinking past Etheridge to seal the points.

The win ensured Liverpool once again found it's attacking flair and once again Anfield showed no mercy to another helpless victim.