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.
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.
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.
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).