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.
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.