It’s a long season in the Premier League. With 7 matches played, there are still 31 left (a total of 93 points to play for). That seems to look pretty positive on paper, but it’s becoming very difficult to see where the points are going to come from.
Last season, Southampton needed just 36 points to achieve 17th place. The 2016/17 season saw Watford finish 17th with 40 points – but 18th placed Hull only managed 34.
It would be fairly safe to say 38 points would win the club survival – 36 more for Cardiff after two draws with Newcastle (H) and Huddersfield (A).
Cardiff’s next six fixtures look like this:
Tottenham (A) – 4th
Fulham (H) – 17th
Liverpool (A) – 2nd
Leicester (H) – 7th
Brighton (H) – 15th
Everton (A) – 11th
All three away matches are very tough and it would be a bonus if any points were picked up in those. Cardiff’s home form has to change drastically and the games against Fulham, Leicester and Brighton already look like “must not lose”, if not, “must win” fixtures.
What went wrong against Burnley?
It was a very poor result on Sunday, there is no getting away from it. Brighton (15th), Southampton (16th), Fulham (17th), Newcastle (18th) and Huddersfield (20th) all lost on the weekend and it was a golden opportunity to get out of the relegation zone.
A mixture of poor defending and a lack of creativity in the final third led to another loss. The thing that was most disappointing was the woeful defensive mistakes for both goals conceded.
I’m totally baffled as to why Sean Morrison is taking long throws in every single area of the pitch, including Cardiff’s own half, and this is what ultimately led to conceding the first goal.
Morrison takes a throw deep into the Cardiff half and it is thrown straight to a Burnley player who boots it back towards the 18-yard box. This leaves the defensive line all over the place and Cunningham is forced to clear it out for a Burnley throw in the attacking third.
Circled are the four defenders. In the second image, Manga is too far up the pitch to be in shot. Morrison is out of position because he was just taking the throw. Cunningham questions Etheridge on why he didn’t come out of his box, but there’s no way he could have sprinted 25 yards in 2 or 3 seconds.
6ft Cunningham is then up against 5ft10 Gudmundsson and the shorter player gets a full head height above the Cardiff defender. Etheridge shouldn’t have been beaten at his near post.
Just after a brilliant first-time finish from Josh Murphy, who was the best player on the park for Cardiff, sloppy defending cost the game yet again.
A simple ball over the top for Gudmundsson to chase. Morrison and Bamba are far too slow to react and Vokes connects to the cross to put Burnley 2-1 in front. Cunningham should be challenging for the ball but doesn’t make any contact again.
What needs to change?
- Long throws can be an asset for Cardiff, but taking them in every area of the pitch is ludicrous. Burnley clearly worked on this as they knew Morrison wouldn’t be in his central position every time; a big gap in the Cardiff defence would be exploited. Keep the long throws for attacking positions only.
- Harry Arter is comfortably the best midfield option available and he needs someone alongside him to do the same job i.e. ball winning and distributing. He was doing far too much of this on his own against Burnley and would be helped by a near-fit Aron Gunnarsson.
- Zohore is clearly not settled this season and can’t be relied upon to start matches. Danny Ward is a far better choice to lead the line and showed his worth against Arsenal and Chelsea.
- Cunningham was poor against a fairly average Burnley side, it would be preferred that Joe Bennett was reintroduced.
- Neither Bamba or Morrison have looked solid at centre back this season and that has become a massive worry after doing so well in the promotion season. It might be time to give Richards a run in on the right side so Manga can come in to play alongside Morrison.
- Murphy needs to start every game when he is match fit. He is by far the best attacking option at hand and looked much brighter than Hoilett and Mendez-Laing have done this season. It might be an option to bring Bobby Reid back into the side and play him on the other flank.
What is the best formation?
I think that could be the best team that can be put out for now, but it’s very hard to tell as performances have been mostly poor.
What I like about this is Camarasa and Reid can swap positions when necessary, but three are still kept in midfield. Richards is far better on the ball than Bamba and Manga is safer on the ball in his more natural central position. Murphy is a dangerous attacking option and Ward has shown in recent times that he is the best option to play as a no.9.
Hopefully, Neil Warnock has realised playing route one for 90 minutes does more damage for this team than good.