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.
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.
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.
@NotOfficialCCFC – After 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.
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