City have spent enough over the summer to ensure that there powerful squad was bolstered further, with additional talent being brought in to augment squad depth. Cardiff, in addition to being newly promoted, are right in the middle of a winless streak, having either drawn or lost their last 5 league matches.
Craig Bellamy was in the ranks for the Welsh team, who is quite familiar with the ways of City, having spent two seasons in their payroll, one of which was spent on loan to Cardiff City. Malky Mackay was in charge of the Bluebirds, and looked more likely to try and curb the scoring spree City were on, rather than try and outwit their defense. Mackay’s squad wasn’t expected to roll over and die, but they weren’t really making it in to a lot of fantasy football squads either.
It started off as one of the most one sided matches on paper, but the last time both of these teams met, Cardiff pulled of a victory in the third round of the 1994 FA Cup. But Cardiff City have already been branded an easy squad, having lost their first ever Premier League fixture to West Ham by two goals, last weekend.
Cardiff should Survive the Season
Cardiff looked organized on the field, which is a huge compliment for any freshly promoted side taking on one of the biggest clubs in the mix. They even threatened to take the heat to the opposition on the break, but were unlucky on a couple of occasions when the linesman seemed too eager to call offside.
They were hard at work, holding out with a compact formation, pushing Whittingham and Campbell through the middle to get shots away. They were almost mauled by the City defence whenever a foray looked likely, and Joe Hart was needed to ensure that he kept the score keeper unperturbed.
They didn’t seem to unhappy to fall back as well, restricting City’s rampant creativity and suffocating Aguero and Dzeko, even when Silva and Navas kept feeding them the ball. They recognized City’s supply on the right flank and cut the space down to restrict any untoward ideas.
The goal by Dzeko was a pretty good example of what keepers’ nightmares are made of, and they showed immediately showed the ability to bounce back with the Icelandic Gunnarsson making the best of a rebound. The second goal by Campbell only proved the point, adding precedent for the coming days. The third one was beautifully constructed by the City defence that was caught napping, while Campbell put it past Hart for the second time.
Cardiff may just have a chance to stay up for their second season in the Premiership, but only if they can reproduce the same form in all their home games, if not all of them.
City’s Rotten Luck
One of the reasons why City are leading the banter for the Premiership is because they are simply bulldozing the opposition. Their first fixture against Newcastle was a clear demonstration of their intent and Pellegrini is looking to exploit all the talent that he has available.
Silva and Toure are two reasons why City have been so prolific in the middle, with the former’s work rate almost dazzling his counterparts. Toure was always a tank, and even at the comparatively advanced age of 30, he still remains the first choice central defensive midfielder.
Up front they have a lethal pair of Aguero and Dzeko, and even though the latter looked like he would end up being sidelined after City invested in Negredo and Jovetic, he has carved a spot in the team and reportedly his manager’s mind too. His strike at 51 minutes was a blinder, and City desperately needed that to really stamp their authority. Sinclair has probably made a wise choice to switch to West Bromwich Albion to at least ensure game time.
But they were far from convincing anyone in this game, especially after the amount of time they had on the ball. 56 per cent of the possession has to translate in to greater chances and better finishing. City actually had 4 shots on target, while Cardiff managed 6. It was an absolutely disappointing show by City and they need to step up, which we should see the next time around.
They could easily put it down as a case of beginner’s luck for Cardiff who were playing at home, but that is no reason to find the target only 4 times in a period of 90 minutes against supposedly weaker opposition. There was never any conviction and Pellegrini should have taken Aguero off instead of Dzeko to reinforce the attack.
Dzeko already looked like he was hitting the spot, and should have been able to add to his tally. Negredo picked up a consolation goal but there were no points to take home. If City want to lead the points tally and the banter, they will need to be clinical in dispatching teams such as Cardiff.