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.
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.