What needs to be done to end Cardiff’s winless campaign?

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.

First goal:

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.

Second goal:

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?

Screen Shot 2018-10-01 at 13.24.47

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.

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Read more:
• Three Welsh players net their first club goals this season
• Wales Watch: Harry Wilson shows his quality in the League Cup 
• Wales Watch: Ramsey and Wilson hit form 

Cardiff’s opening Premier League goals were not enough for their first 3 points

The Bluebird’s first goals of the season from Victor Camarasa and Danny Ward were not enough to win any points against Arsenal.

Continue reading “Cardiff’s opening Premier League goals were not enough for their first 3 points”

Cardiff’s business in the summer transfer window is completed

Neil Warnock has managed to recruit six players this summer in preparation for Cardiff’s first season back in the Premier League, four of which came at the start of pre-season. Camarasa & Arter have signed on transfer deadline day as Warnock sought other options to bring in central midfielders, following a failure to sign Marko Grujic from Liverpool.

Transfers in:

Player Transfer fee Previous club Position
Greg Cunningham £4m Preston North End Left back
Josh Murphy £11m Norwich City Winger
Bobby Reid £10m Bristol City Forward
Alex Smithies £3m (rising to 3.5m) QPR Goalkeeper
Victor Camarasa Season-long loan Real Betis Centre midfield
Harry Arter Season-long loan AFC Bournemouth Centre midfield


A quick look at all of the new signings:

Greg Cunningham

preston-north-end-v-reading-sky-bet-championship-deepdale-8-310x415 Aged 27, 6ft, Irish international

Previous clubs include Preston, Bristol City, Nottingham Forest, Leicester City & Manchester City

A reliable left back who has been one of the most consistent players in the Championship for the past 3 years, offering strong competition to Joe Bennett for a first team place.

He hasn’t played for the Republic of Ireland since 2013 but a continuation of his quality at Premier League level will surely be enough to earn him a call up.

Josh Murphy

Josh+Murphy+Norwich+City+v+Leeds+United+1XuZOdOHAcHl Aged 23, 5ft8, former England U20 international

A pacy, skilful winger with a keen eye for goal, Murphy bagged 11 goals and 3 assists for Norwich last year.

His twin brother, Jacob Murphy, is also a professional footballer who plays as a winger. They played together at Norwich for four years before Jacob moved to Newcastle in 2017.

Josh has played a season in the Premier League once before, in the 2013/14 season, the same year Cardiff were relegated. Norwich were also relegated the same year.

Bobby Reid

Bobby+Reid+Bristol+City+v+FC+Twente+Pre+Season+-2JGZgp-5ukl.jpg Aged 25, 5ft7, English born

Bobby has spent most of his career at Bristol City as well going out on loan to Cheltenham and Oldham, before 3 different loan spells at Plymouth.

He was one of the best strikers in the Championship last season, scoring 19 league goals in 46 games. He also netted 2 goals for Bristol City in the League Cup. They got to the semi-final, eventually losing to Man City over two legs.

He was named in the Championship team of the year, along with Sol Bamba.

As well as playing as a striker, he is also capable of playing at the tip of the midfield diamond in the no.10 role.

Alex Smithies

Smithies_QPR_Leeds Aged 28, 6ft1, former England U19 international

He’s only played for two different clubs in his career so far, Huddersfield and QPR.

Smithies has been linked to a number of Premier League clubs throughout his career, but this season will be his first chance to play at the top level.

He kept 7 clean sheets in 43 games for QPR last year, averaging 2.16 saves per game. His average claim success was 95%. Comparing to Etheridge who made 2.09 saves per game and had a 97% average claim success rate. He will be eager to battle for the no.1 spot with Etheridge.

Victor Camarasa

6ndwqST Aged 24, 6ft, former Spain U21 international

He signs from La Liga outfit Real Betis on a season-long loan. He has also played for Levante and Alaves.

Camarasa is a box-to-box midfielder who will bring more physicality to the current midfield.

He was on the bench against Cardiff last week in their final pre-season friendly but did not make an appearance due to playing against Bournemouth the previous day.

He has played with the likes of Marco Asensio, Hector Bellerin and Gerard Deulofeu for Spain’s U21 team.

Harry Arter

harry-arter-bournemouth-football-player-a Aged 28, 5ft10, Irish international

Arter has spent the last 8 years of his career at Bournemouth, as well as spells at Carlisle, Charlton, Woking, Staines and Welling. He joins Cardiff on a season-long loan.

He can play as a holding midfield player, with strong attributes in tackling and passing.

Although he didn’t feature much for Bournemouth last season, he has been a Premier League regular since their first season at the top in 2015.

Arter will be vital in Cardiff’s bid to stay up this season, offering Warnock a good option for the defensive role in midfield.

Cardiff’s squad list looks like this:
Goalkeepers: Neil Etheridge, Alex Smithies, Brian Murphy

Central defenders: Sean Morrison, Sol Bamba, Bruno Ecuele Manga, Matt Connolly

Full backs: Lee Peltier, Jazz Richards, Greg Cunningham, Joe Bennett

Central midfielders: Joe Ralls, Aron Gunnarsson, Loic Damour, Victor Camarasa, Harry Arter, Callum Paterson, Lee Tomlin, Stuart O’Keefe

Wingers: Josh Murphy, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Junior Hoilett, Kadeem Harris

Forwards: Kenneth Zohore, Bobby Reid, Danny Ward, Gary Madine, Anthony Pilkington, Rhys Healey

Four of those players have to be cut from the list to finalise Cardiff’s 25 man Premier League squad, and it would be likely be four of the following:
Rhys Healey, Stuart O’Keefe, Matt Connolly, Anthony Pilkington, Lee Tomlin, Kadeem Harris.

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