Match Preview: Swansea City vs Cardiff City

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The last time around Cardiff lost 3-0 at the Liberty

It’s been a while… and we’re back!

Tomorrow marks a huge day in Championship football, as Cardiff and Swansea will lock horns for the first time since the 2013/14 Premier League season. How will the teams line up, and how will the game unravel?

With Steve Cooper and Neil Warnock at their respective helms, it’ll be a tough tie for both managers – young and old.

Recent Form

Cardiff are yet to win an away game this season, losing three and drawing three. Disappointing for Neil Warnock and co. considering their away form last time in the Championship.

Swansea have had a mixed run of form at home as of late, with their most recent game ending in a 0-3 disappointing defeat to Brentford.

Both sets of form point to a close match-up between the bitter rivals, that really could go either way. It’s going to be a nervy night’s sleep for both sets of fans as huge bragging rights are on the line.

Stephen McPhail clatters Leon Britton in midfield

Head-to-Head

In history, Cardiff are the more dominant of the two Welsh clubs, with 44 wins out of 107 competitive games. Swansea, on the other hand, have won a slightly less total of 35 games in this time. Add 27 draws to this and we get the total of 107 games played between the two historic clubs.

The last time the two sides met was in the Premier League, with Cardiff winning at the Cardiff City Stadium 1-0 in the first half of the season. Former loanee-Swan Steven Caulker scoring a bullet header from Craig Bellamy’s pinpoint corner.

At the Liberty Stadium, however, Cardiff fell to a 3-0 drubbing under then manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær, with goals coming from former Bluebird Wayne Routledge, Nathan Dyer and Wilfried Bony.

Cardiff will be looking for revenge and subsequently be looking to get their first win on the road this season. Swansea, however, will be looking to prevent falling any lower in the table than they have in past weeks.

Former Bluebird captain powers home in 2013 (BBC Wales Sport)

The Managers

It’s obvious to see that both managers have contrasting experiences in the world of football, almost at opposite end of the spectrum.

Neil Warnock will be looking for yet another promotion from the Championship to the Premier League, despite his side’s shaky start to the season. Whereas Swansea’s Steve Cooper is currently enjoying a bright start to his senior management career, having previously managed Wrexham’s youth side and Liverpool’s academy.

Cardiff can move within two points of Play-Off spots with a win

Will Neil Warnock overcome the Swans and get a first South Wales Derby win on his debut? Or will Steve Cooper’s Swans triumph over their capital city neighbours? Leave your thoughts.

@OwenRhysDeacon

Cardiff’s victory over West Ham and how to kick on from here

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Victor Camarasa
Victor Camarasa celebrates giving Cardiff a two-goal cushion over West Ham

Cardiff City ended their losing streak with a 2-0 victory over West Ham United last week – giving themselves hope in the bid for Premier League survival. Although they recorded another three points on the board, the Bluebirds’ efforts were matched by Brighton and Southampton, both winning two-goals-to-one.

The Verdict

Neil Warnock’s soldiers battled their way to a win against Manuel Pellegrini’s Hammers – keeping themselves within touching distance of Premier League safety. Teams around Cardiff in Fulham, Huddersfield and Burnley all lost their respective matches. However, Brighton and Southampton both recorded big wins as they defeated Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur respectively to keep the pressure on the Bluebirds.

Cardiff took an early lead in their clash with West Ham as Junior Hoilett’s fourth minute strike was enough to beat Lukasz Fabianski at his near post, following Josh Murphy’s delectable low-cross. With Cardiff scoring just their eighth first-half goal of the season, the Bluebirds found themselves in a fairly unfamiliar position at the break.

Every player for Cardiff deserves their own section of the article but unfortunately I don’t have enough time to write a 10,000 word essay on individual performances. However, Victor Camarasa shone through a team of shining performances as the Bluebirds soared past West Ham. The Spaniard played a huge part in the first goal; playing through Josh Murphy down the right flank, resulting in Cardiff’s opener. The Real Betis loanee then added to his goal-scoring tally as he bundled the ball over the line and into Fabianski’s net – once again assisted by Josh Murphy.

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Josh Murphy picked up two assists for Cardiff and looked back to his best

 

Man of the Match

@OwenRhysDeacon – I personally think that Victor Camarasa had a superb match, as did Junior Hoilett and Sean Morrison. However, I think that my plaudits have to be for Josh Murphy. He’d recently been ousted from the Wolves match-day squad after what Warnock described as “performing poorly” due to “low confidence”. He’s done brilliantly to hit back at his manager, and by recording two assists he’s definitely given his manager a selection headache for after the international break.

@ccfcben – I firmly believe that the three consecutive losses were a result of midfield inconsistency. Something was missing and it’s now clear what that was: Harry Arter. The tenacious midfielder was recalled to the starting line up for the visit of West Ham and he certainly made his presence known. His high pressing, tireless work ethic and calmness on the ball added aspects to Cardiff’s midfield that they’ve been missing, attributes we’ve come to love and appreciate from the Bournemouth loanee. It’s clear to see that not one member of the squad has their starting spot guaranteed, but if anyone should, the Republic of Ireland international should be topping the list.

@NotOfficialCCFCAfter such a superb team performance, it really was difficult to pick just one standout player. But for me, despite the fact he was only on the pitch for 68 minutes, the player who really stood out was Victor Camarasa. In only his second game back after returning from a calf injury, Camarasa really showed the Bluebirds’ supporters what they’d been missing. His calmness and quality on the ball was plain to see from the get-go. Whether it was picking the ball up and driving City thirty-yards up the pitch with a marauding run, or spraying passes left and right, the Spaniard was a constant thorn in the side of a West Ham team that really struggled to contain him. He rounded his performance off with a well-earned goal, to ultimately seal the win for Cardiff. It really was some sight to see City’s Spanish import back to his very best.

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The Cardiff players celebrate their 4th minute opener, courtesy of Junior Hoilett

Kicking-On

It’s going to be a tough task, as it always has been, for Cardiff to beat the drop and survive in the Premier League for the first time in club history. This was made even harder with victories from relegation rivals Southampton and Brighton, as mentioned previously. However, as long as the Bluebirds win games – that’s all they can do.

The Bluebirds run-in, from now until the end of the season, is by no means an easy one and will have fans sat on the edge of their seat for the duration. However, there is one team that has a harder run of games. Burnley. The Clarets have recently found themselves slip down the table once again and now face a dogfight with the likes of Cardiff in the bid for Premier League survival.

Cardiff’s next two games may be write-offs as they welcome Chelsea to the CCS and face a daunting trip to the Etihad to face Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. However, as Wolves have shown many times this season, if you don’t allow these teams to breathe and press them straight from the off, then you might have a chance. Never say never in football.

Whilst Cardiff also have to face Liverpool at home and journey to Old Trafford on the last day of the season, Burnley have Wolves, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal – whilst also hosting Cardiff at Turf Moor.

With Cardiff two points just behind the Clarets and just six points from 13th place, it’s definitely going to be a push, however, it’s definitely not impossible and stranger things have happened in the Premier League.

Written by @OwenRhysDeacon

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The players set to feature for Burnley vs Cardiff

Cardiff Celebrations vs West Ham
Tomorrow is the first time this fixture will take place in the Premier League.

By @OwenRhysDeacon

It’s not long now until kick off at Turf Moor and it’s going to be a test of heart, as well as physicality and mentality. With Cardiff now five points adrift from Premier League safety, it seems that their chances of survival are slowly dwindling. However, a win for the Bluebirds would definitely shake things up and have teams like Southampton and Brighton looking over their shoulder.

Head-to-Head

For Cardiff City on paper, this match may seem like a tough ask from Warnock and his soldiers as they have only won one game in their previous five, narrowly missing out against Chelsea. Their 2-0 win against West Ham was their latest victory.

Burnley on the other hand, have won twice in their past five matches, with their victories coming against Wolves at home and Bournemouth away. The Clarets have stepped up their form in recent weeks, however, as they’ve proceeded to climb out of the bottom three and watch the confirmation of Fulham and Huddersfield’s relegation from a safe distance.

Looking back through the years, the stats weigh heavily in Cardiff’s favour with the Bluebirds suffering defeat just once since 2007. In these 14 games, Cardiff City recorded five wins and nine draws against Burnley. With Sean Dyche’s Burnley claiming all three points at the Cardiff City Stadium in September, Neil Warnock and co. will be eager to get on even terms with their relegation rivals.

Key Match Up: Jeff Hendrick vs Joe Bennett

It’s no doubt that there will be several personal battles on and off the pitch tomorrow, however, one of interest is Burnley’s midfield stalwart Jeff Hendrick against Cardiff’s reliable left back Joe Bennett.

Hendrick, 27, has featured on the right-hand side of a Claret midfield four times in the last five games, including Burnley’s victory away to Bournemouth last time out, which I can see being an unchanged side.

With two goals this season the Irish international may not seem like as big a threat as the likes of wonder-kid Dwight McNeil, who has three goals in just 16 appearances for Burnley this season. However, with Burnley playing in a compact manner and aiming to make the most of possession when they have it, Hendrick is the perfect man to feature out-wide for Sean Dyche.

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Bennett has started in all five of Cardiff’s previous games, with the defeat Manchester City coming most recently.

Joe Bennett is the focus for Cardiff as the former Aston Villa man has claimed the left-side of defence as his own this season, despite the signing of Irish international Greg Cunningham.

With consistency in defence and exceptional delivery in attack, Burnley’s right-hand side of midfield and defence will have to try to keep Bennett under wraps or face some dangerous balls into the box.

Bennett, 29, has six clean sheets and three assists this season and will be looking to build on those stats as we head into the tail-end of the season.

Predictions:

Burnley XI (4-4-2): Heaton (c); Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Hendrick, Westwood, Cork, McNeil; Barnes, Wood.

Cardiff XI (4-3-3): Etheridge; Peltier, Manga, Morrison (c), Bennett; Arter, Gunnarsson, Camarasa; Hoilett, Murphy, Niasse.

Score prediction – Burnley 1-2 Cardiff (Wood//Hoilett, Camarasa).

 

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Match Preview: Manchester City vs Cardiff City

After Cardiff City were left frustrated and hard done by due to a string of poor decisions lead to a dramatic late defeat to Chelsea on Sunday, their next task really couldn’t be more difficult. Manchester City continue their push for back to back Premier League titles, a win against struggling Cardiff would see them once again overtake Liverpool at the summit of the league table. Callum Paterson and Sol Bamba have been ruled out for the rest of the season whilst Man City will be without Sergio Aguero for the midweek clash.

Head-to-Head

The two sides have met four times since the turn of the century, with Man City taking home three consecutive victories including a highly aggressive FA Cup fixture last January. Man City also took home all three points when Cardiff last visited the Etihad in a 4-2 win, Cardiff were interestingly one of only two sides to score two or more away to Man City that season, the other being Arsenal.

In the reverse fixture earlier in the season, Man City humbled Cardiff 5-0 on a damp and bleak day in South Wales. Cardiff started off the game well but fell behind after half an hour, good work down the right sliced Cardiff open before Sergio Aguero finished past Neil Etheridge at the near post. It was 2-0 very shortly after, Bernardo Silva’s glanced looping header somehow found its way into the far corner. City killed the game off before half time as they made it 3-0 in stunning fashion, brilliant one touch football saw the ball find its way to an advancing İlkay Gündoğan who wonderfully picked out the top corner with a delicate curled effort. City added two in the second half, both through substitute Riyad Mahrez. The first came with 23 minutes to go, Gündoğan turning from scorer to provided as he squared the ball for Mahrez to tap into an empty net to finish off another wonderful City move. The fifth and final goal came just before the clock turned 90, Mahrez picked up a loose pass on the edge of the area and fired into the bottom corner to cap off a stunning away performance by e reigning champions.

Key Match-Up: Fernandinho vs Victor Camarasa

Pep Guardiola has been quoted saying he will make a few changes to the squad over the next few games as City target completing a quadruple of trophies after already taking home the Carabao Cup in February. One of those changes could easily be influential sitting midfielder Fernandinho, who was left out of the starting team for the 2-0 win against Fulham. In Victor Camarasa, Cardiff have a midfielder who loves to find pockets of space in between the back four and the midfield, and if Fernandinho isn’t starting, he could find himself with lots of space to cause problems on and off the ball.

To nullify Camarasa’s threat, Fernandinho needs to be in the starting team for Man City, his energy, tenacity and overall IQ on the pitch makes him one of the standout defensive midfielders in world football. It could be an interesting battle but it’s likely that if Camarasa can’t work any space then the game would be even harder than already predicted.

Predicted Line Ups:

Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Otamendi, Stones, Zinchenko, Fernandinho, Bernardo Silva, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus & Sterling.

Cardiff City: Etheridge, Peltier, Manga, Morrison, Bennett, Arter, Gunnarsson, Camarasa, Hoilett, Murphy & Niassé.

After the late heartbreak against Chelsea, Cardiff have a tough task to pick themselves back up off the floor to face one of the best teams in the world, and although Guardiola is making changes and star striker Sergio Aguero is injured, the line up Cardiff will face will still certainly still be daunting. The toughest tasks lie ahead for Cardiff starting with this away trip and if they could steal any kind of result it would go down as one of the shocks of the season, but a more realistic approach would be damage control for Neil Warnock’s men.

Match Preview: Cardiff City – Chelsea

After a three-week break from Premier League action, Cardiff City return to survival duties with a slightly daunting date with Maurizio Sarri’s stuttering Chelsea. Cardiff bounced back from three consecutive defeats with a crucial 2-0 win against West Ham in their last outing, whilst Chelsea put in a disappointing performance in a 2-0 loss to Everton at Goodison Park.

Head-to-Head

The history between the two sides isn’t pleasant reading for Cardiff, they haven’t beaten Chelsea since a 2-1 win in 1986. Chelsea have won all four of the previous meetings, three of them ending 4-1.

In the previous encounter this season Chelsea came from behind to cruise to a 4-1 victory at Stamford Bridge, mainly thanks to a hat trick from star man Eden Hazard. Sol Bamba gave the visitors a shock early lead before Hazard struck twice in quick succession before half time. A late double-strike secured the three points for Chelsea, Eden Hazard securing his hat trick from the penalty spot before substitute Willian curled home a superb fourth for the home side.

Key Match-Up: Oumar Niasse vs Antonio Rüdiger

Could this be the game that Cardiff striker Oumar Niasse finally gets off the mark? If so, he’ll have to find his way through one of the standout centre backs of the season, German international Antonio Rüdiger.

Whilst Niasse hasn’t discovered the scoring touch for Cardiff as of yet, the way he runs the channels makes him a constant threat for opposition defenders, and with Rüdiger he’s coming up against a centre back who is more than comfortable tracking those runs with his undoubted pace. If Niasse can get in behind then Cardiff can easily cause problems for the Chelsea back-line but Rüdiger’s before mentioned pace, it’ll be the Cardiff striker’s toughest challenge to date this season.

Predicted Line Ups:

Cardiff City: Etheridge, Peltier, Manga, Morrison, Bennett, Arter, Gunnarsson, Camarasa, Hoilett, Murphy & Niassé.

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Rüdiger, David Luiz, Emerson, Kanté, Jorginho, Barkley, Pedro, Higuain & Hazard.

With relegation rivals Southampton and Burnley both picking up crucial wins, this super Sunday clash now has added value for the home side. With games running out, points are desperately needed, especially at home for Cardiff. Maurizio Sarri is under huge pressure and it remains to be seen if the players will fight for him and possibly his job. Either way a tense afternoon at Cardiff City Stadium lies ahead.

Match Preview – Cardiff City vs West Ham United

Three defeats on the bounce have left Cardiff City in a fairly unfamiliar position in the relegation zone, but with a home match on the horizon and just two points from safety, a typical Warnock escape plan needs to start and Saturday is a crucial opportunity. Manuel Pellegrini’s Hammers are the visitors on Saturday afternoon, a draw with Liverpool, a narrow defeat to Manchester City and two wins in their last five games, the Londoners come into this one with confidence high and a European place in their vision. Another tough afternoon for Cardiff could lie ahead.

Head-to-Head

The recent history between the two clubs isn’t pleasant reading for Cardiff as West Ham have only lost two of the last 33 meetings dating back to 1950, including winning the last seven matches between the two sides.

The reverse fixture back in December under the lights at Olympic Stadium ended in a 3-1 victory for The Hammers. Cardiff had the better of the first half but squandered a great chance to go into the break ahead as Łukasz Fabiański saved Joe Ralls’ tame penalty after Junior Hoilett was fouled by Marko Arnautović. West Ham took control of the game early in the second half with three goals in a blistering 12 minute spell, a brace from former Arsenal striker Lucas Pérez and a front post header from Michail Antonio put the game to bed in the blink of an eye. Cardiff managed to grab a scrappy consolation goal in added time through Josh Murphy but their disastrous second half performance was a cause for concern ahead of a challenging Christmas schedule.

Key Match-Up: Harry Arter vs Mark Noble

It’s no secret to anyone in attendance in the reverse fixture that one club man Mark Noble ran the midfield rather unopposed. Harry Arter is expected to be back in the starting team, expected to put together a string of tenacious performances in midfield to solidify him his starting place back, he faces a tough contest on Saturday, one that his game ideally matches up against. Noble is a seasoned pro at this level and poses a huge test for the Arter in terms of his tireless work ethic, tough tackling and range of passing. Just like in December, it’s hard to see this game not being decided in midfield, this battle in particular. Two battling midfielders expecting to serve up a fierce battle in the middle of the park.

Predicted Line Ups:

Cardiff City: Etheridge, Peltier, Manga, Morrison, Bennett, Arter, Ralls, Camarasa, Paterson, Decordova-Reid & Niassé.

West Ham: Fabiański, Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Noble, Rice, Snodgrass, Lanzini, Felipe Anderson & Arnautović.

With Cardiff on a run of three consecutive defeats and slumping back into the bottom three, a task facing the attacking flair of Marko Arnautović, Manuel Lanzini and Felipe Anderson could prove the opposite of what Cardiff need to be facing at this time, especially with star defender Sol Bamba ruled out for the rest of the season. Victor Camarasa was involved against Wolves last week after injury and with Harry Arter expected to come back into the team, this injection of quality and energy into Cardiff’s midfield could also be key to the home side getting back on track.

Match Preview – Cardiff City vs Everton

After a 5-1 humbling at the hands of Watford five days previously, Cardiff return to the Cardiff City Stadium to take on Marco Silva’s Everton. The visitors are currently on a run of three consecutive defeats and have slipped to 11th in the table. Just nine points in their last 10 games, Cardiff playing an out of form side on the back of that humiliating defeat could be the perfect recipe for a strong response from Neil Warnock’s men.

Head-to-Head

Everton have won 6 of the last 9 meetings between the two clubs, dating all the way back to a 5-1 win in 1961. Everton and Cardiff’s head-to-head records are separated by only one win, but there have been only three meetings since 1980, all of which Cardiff are winless.

The reverse fixture back in October ended in a 1-0 victory for The Toffees, Gylfi Sigurdsson bagging the only goal of a tight affair just after the hour mark. The Bluebirds huffed and puffed in the second half but failed to create any clear cut chances as they remained without a win away from home.

Key Match-Up: Kenneth Zohore vs Michael Keane

With Oumar Niasse unable to play against his former club, the attacking responsibilities falls on the shoulders of a rejuvenated Kenneth Zohore for the midweek clash against Everton. With Kurt Zouma out through suspension and Yerry Mina questionable for Tuesday, Zohore’s main competition will be former Burnley defender Michael Keane. A centre back that certainly isn’t the slowest and also dominant in the air, Keane will prove a more than capable test, should Zohore get the starting spot he’s strongly expected to. Zohore isn’t known for his aerial ability, so a physical battle and lots of breaks down the channel are on the cards, a battle Zohore could easily come out on top of.

Predicted Line Up’s:

Cardiff City: Etheridge, Peltier, Manga, Bamba, Bennett, Gunnarsson, Arter, Ralls, Paterson, Decordova-Reid & Zohore.

Everton: Pickford, Coleman, Mina, Keane, Digne, Andre Gomes, Gueye, Walcott, Sigurdsson, Richarlison & Tosun.

Will Everton’s firepower and strength in depth with attacking options be too much for Cardiff to handle? Possibly. Gylfi Sigurdsson is one of the finest attacking midfielders in the league, and should he be allowed the same space the Watford midfielders were on Friday by Cardiff, it could be a long night for the Welsh side. With Zohore’s previously mentioned confidence coming back bit-by-bit, it remains doubtful that Cardiff will lack the threat they did back in November at Goodison Park, so it all comes down to who can take their chances and who will lock up at the back enough to earn a valuable win

Match Preview – Cardiff City vs Watford

After a weeks break due to FA Cup elimination last month, Cardiff City returned to Premier League action for the first of two home games in the next few days as they welcome Javi Gracia’s European pushing Watford side. After Cardiff achieved back to back top flight wins for the first time in over 50 years, a hat trick of victories is now the target for Neil Warnock’s gutsy side. With Watford star man Roberto Pereyra being declared fit and Cardiff welcoming back Spaniard Victor Camarasa, perhaps the pendulum has already taken a swing in The Bluebirds direction?

Head-to-Head

Watford have won the last two meetings between the two clubs, but were winless in the previous six, stretching back to a 4-2 defeat in January 2011. The last time The Hornets came to Cardiff City Stadium ended victory for the Bluebirds. Cardiff stunned the away side and raced to a 3-1 half time lead, Craig Bellamy and Michael Chopra both finding the net before Will Buckley halved the deficit, only for Jay Bothroyd to extend The Bluebirds lead. Marvin Sordell scored shortly after half time to give the visitors some hope, however Cardiff saw the game out easily after Gábor Gyepes scored a fourth for The Bluebirds.

In this season’s earlier encounter, Watford put in a commanding performance to claim all three points despite a late fightback from Cardiff. It took The Hornets just 16 minutes to take the lead, Gerard Deulofeu weaved between tame tackles before sliding past Neil Etheridge to give the home side a deserved lead. Just seven minutes into the second half and Watford doubled their lead, a stunning curling effort from José Holebas beautifully found the top corner past a helpless Etheridge. Cardiff’s keeper was beaten once again with 22 minutes to go, another stunning curling effort from distance as Domingos Quina bagged his first professional goal. Cardiff then attempted a late fightback, firstly it was the third curling effort from outside the box that brought them back into it as Junior Hoilett bagged his second goal in four games. Bobby Decordova-Reid then stabbed home following a small session of penalty area pinball to set up a grandstand final ten minutes in which they couldn’t force a miraculous equaliser.

Key Match-Up: Sol Bamba vs Troy Deeney

Troy Deeney is well known for his bullish and tenacious approach, and in Sol Bamba he is coming up against one of the standout defenders in the Premier League this season. Bamba’s deceiving turn of pace and dominance in the air will prove to be the perfect physical match up with Deeney for the neutral fans to keep an eye on.

Deeney has just five goals this season and none in his last five Premier League games, but any Premier League fan will know that he is a striker that offers more than just goals, his overall hold up play, high pressing and link up play to bring in players like Gray and Deulofeu is second to none and will cause any central defender nightmares. Bamba arguably has his biggest test to date and it will be an interesting watch to see who comes out on top.

With Cardiff riding high off their stunning late victory against Southampton last time out, confidence will be high heading back home to play in front of another sell out crowd at the Cardiff City Stadium, however Watford’s quick tempo and expansive football could easily make it a difficult evening for Neil Warnock’s men. With passion running as high as always in South Wales that could be more than enough to see Cardiff pick up a positive result here, but Watford’s undoubted quality, especially with star man Roberto Pereyra returning, should be enough to stop Cardiff’s threats and grab a hard earned draw away from home.

Predicted Line Up’s:

Cardiff City: Etheridge, Peltier, Manga, Bamba, Bennett, Gunnarsson, Arter, Camarasa, Paterson, Decordova-Reid & Niassé.

Watford: Foster, Janmaat, Mariappa, Cathcart, Holebas, Doucouré, Capoue, Hughes, Pereyra, Deulofeu & Deeney.

Form Watch: Joe Ralls

It’s been a very up-and-down season for Joe Ralls, who admittedly hasn’t always hit the heights that he reached last campaign. However, after admission from the starting eleven, the Aldershot-born midfielder has found his feet once again.

Joe Ralls
Cardiff’s number 8 has been with the Bluebirds since 2011

Resurgent Ralls

With Cardiff suffering casualties in midfield to key players such as Victor Camarasa and Harry Arter, the ball was in Ralls’ court. After a rough defeat away to Newcastle, every player knew they needed to step up following the tragic disappearance of Emiliano Sala. With a trip to the Emirates lurking, Warnock and co. knew that it would be a tough challenge to pull off a result against Arsenal.

The Bluebirds performed admirably, narrowly falling to a 2-1 defeat. There were definitely positives, however; one of the main positives being Joe Ralls. Despite Cardiff’s midfield not having heaps of possession, the Englishman made the most of his time on the ball, picking out Niasse with precise through balls on many occasions.

The former Yeovil loanee has been subject to scrutiny this season and in my opinion has frequently been the scapegoat when City’s midfield has been overrun. However, with resilient performances in mammoth games such as Bournemouth and Southampton, I feel that for Watford, at least, he should be one of the first names on the team-sheet.

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Ralls has made 25 Premier League appearances this season, starting 21

An Unsung Hero?

In the wake of Cardiff’s first consecutive top-flight victories for the first time since April 1962 and after close analysis, Ralls has really shown how diverse and varied his abilities are. Against Bournemouth, despite being pressed constantly, Ralls kept calm and composed whilst under pressure and picked his passes out intelligently. With Bobby Decordova-Reid cruising his way throughout the fixture, it allowed Cardiff’s number 8 to express himself in a deep-lying playmaker role. With Cardiff playing with more confidence, Ralls controlled possession in midfield when the Bluebirds found themselves on the right side of the ball.

This contrasts hugely to his perfomance at Southampton, however. Away from home and playing alongside Arter and Gunnarsson meant that Ralls had to play in a much more compact team. Whereas against Bournemouth his control shone through, against the Saints he was a cog in a midfield machine that grinded out a massive result. Even after the introduction of Leandro Bacuna the Englishman was able to chase down the ball and hold onto possession with the same efficiency as when Gunnarsson was on the field.

This was all epitomised when his interception in the dying embers of the game created the goal that sealed all three points for Neil Warnock’s soldiers. Watching the once-promising youngster now celebrate as a man in-front of the traveling Cardiff faithful, just goes to show how much Joe Ralls has grown, not only as a player but as a professional and as a person.

 

Written by Owen Deacon (@OwenRhysDeacon)

 

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City’s summer signings: How have they fared?

We are now over half way through this 2018/19 Premier League campaign, and as you know, the second and final transfer window of the season has slammed shut. City parted with a relatively modest £28m in the summer transfer window, bringing in six new faces in total. Just how have they fared so far?

 

Josh Murphy

At around £11m, Murphy was City’s first signing after gaining promotion back to the Premier League. An impressive pre-season filled the Bluebirds’ fans with optimism, but he found himself on the bench for City’s opening day defeat at Bournemouth, though he did produce an encouraging cameo after coming off the bench. Murphy made his first start against Newcastle a week later, and was awarded Man Of The Match by Sky Sports’ pundits. The Englishman really has shown, on occasion, just why City paid a hefty £11m for him, with goals against Burnley, Fulham & West Ham. At just 23 years of age, he clearly has so much more to offer, and has thus far proved a fairly astute signing by Neil Warnock. 7.5/10.

 

Greg Cunningham

It seemed as if every transfer window under Neil Warnock, this man’s name was mentioned. City finally got their man in the summer for a reported £4m. Many fans, including myself, expected Warnock to possibly hand Cunningham the starting left back spot against Bournemouth, but he decided to stick with Joe Bennett. The former Preston North End man had found himself being rotated in and out of the side by Warnock for the majority of the first half of the season, with neither Cunningham nor Bennett seemingly being able to nail down the position for themselves. In recent weeks, it seems to have been Joe Bennett who has staked the biggest claim by producing some stand out performances. For the price, a fairly good signing. Still feel that there is more to come from the Irishman in a City shirt. 6/10.

 

Victor Camarasa

This one came completely out of the blue. The Spaniard, relatively unknown to most City fans, joined on deadline day in a loan deal from Real Betis. From the offset, Camarasa’s quality and composure on the ball was clear to see. He made his mark when he netted City’s first Premier League goal of the season at home to Arsenal. Producing top drawer performances week in, week out, the Betis loanee’s biggest moment so far came away at Leicester, with the central midfielder beautifully curling a 25-yard screamer into the top corner, to give City their first away win this season. With the level of quality shown his performances, The Bluebirds know that they will have to stay up to have any chance of signing this man permanently, with his price tag seemingly shooting up by the week. 9/10.

 

Bobby Reid

After netting an impressive 19 Championship goals and grabbing 7 assists in the 2017/18 season, Neil Warnock snapped Reid up from rivals Bristol City for a reported £10m fee. After a tough start, Reid got his first goal in Cardiff colours in a 4-2 win over Fulham in October, but he wouldn’t score again until December. Up until the last few weeks, the former Bristol man had struggled for minutes under Warnock, but now it seems Reid has earned the trust of his gaffer. A good performance away at Arsenal was followed up by the 26-year-old grabbing both goals in a 2-0 win over Bournemouth. A game in which he added an extra dimension to the Cardiff side, that they really had been crying out for. Reid clearly has the quality to play at this level, and when utilised properly, is a real asset. 7.5/10.

 

Alex Smithies

Signed as a back-up to Neil Etheridge from QPR for a reported £3.5m fee, the majority of City fans were pleased with this signing. From the off, it was going to be a task for Smithies to budge Etheridge out of the side, as the Filipino international remarkably made two penalty saves in the opening two games of the season. The former QPR man-made his debut for City in a 1-3 loss at home to Norwich City in the Carabao Cup. Smithies’ second game came in January, away at Gillingham in the FA Cup 3rd round. It was not a game to remember for the 28-year-old, as he conceded a pretty preventable goal on his part, which proved to be the only goal of the game. Not seen much of him at all, but what we have seen hasn’t been the best. 5/10.

 

Harry Arter

Another deadline day signing, this time from Bournemouth. Arter was a name on many City fans’ lips throughout the window, and the 29-year-old finally joined with little time to spare. From his debut against Newcastle, he looked a perfect fit. If you looked up the definition of a Cardiff City, and Neil Warnock type player, you’d be sure to find a picture of Harry Arter. His relentless running and all round tenacity, paired with his much-needed experience at the top-level, makes him an absolutely superb bit of transfer business from Warnock and Cardiff. Another who City will be desperate to keep a hold of, should they stay up. 9/10.

Overall, you have to say that the 2018 summer transfer window was a success. Even more so when you look at the likes of Fulham, who spent just over £100m on new arrivals, yet currently sit eight points below City. A testament to the board, Neil Warnock & his staff.

 

Written by @NotOfficialCCFC