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First Team

🆚 Hot Off The Press: Cardiff City

Glen Williams of Wales Online previews The Bluebirds

24 December 2020

Cardiff are 10th in the Championship table with 20 games played, four points outside the play-off places they finished within last season. What have you made of their campaign so far?

Well, it's been interesting, to say the least. There is no doubting Cardiff suffered a bit of a hangover from an elongated season last year and the short turnaround this year and that showed in their early performances. They got out of the traps sluggishly and really struggled to gain any momentum, but then they enjoyed a tremendous run, stringing four wins together on the bounce and looked to have found their form of last season.

The derby defeat by Swansea City was a setback - that one hurt the fans - but it's important that momentum gained is not completely lost due to one result. It's been mixed and it can certainly still go either way, that's for sure. 

Neil Harris said he’d “never been so angry after a game” following the defeat to QPR on 31 October and, for the most part, his side responded well to that, with five wins and a draw from the next nine games. With the pressure increasing at that point, how important was that positive run of results for him?

It cannot be understated just how important that was. Make no bones about it, there was massive pressure on Neil Harris at that time and he even held talks with owner Vincent Tan. The contents of that conversation we are not privy to, but there are no prizes for guessing. The supporters were really beginning to get restless, especially with the manner of the defeats, so it was impeccable timing to turn it around and put together those results.

Which player has impressed you the most so far this season?

It's hard to look past Kieffer Moore (pictured above); I think he has been an incredible signing. Yes, he has eight goals to his name, but his all-round play has been so impressive. He knows where the goal is, that's for sure, but he has also won the most aerial duels in the division and, with his back to goal, really gives the Bluebirds a platform. It’s just a shame he’ll be out until the New Year with a torn hamstring. I think a special mention must go to Sheyi Ojo, though. He has been excellent on the wing, too, and a real surprise package.

With the transfer window set to open in a few days’ time, in which areas will Cardiff be looking to strengthen, if at all?

Cardiff are in desperate need of another right back. They signed Arsenal youngster Jordi Osei-Tutu on loan for the season but, after starting well, he sustained a hamstring injury. That means Leandro Bacuna, a natural midfielder, has had to fill in at right back. He has done well, to be fair, but Cardiff miss him in the middle of the park. That would be the main area Cardiff need to bolster next month.

How is Harris likely to set up his side on Boxing Day?

It's a tricky one, because he has flittered between two systems, in the main. He began with a 4-2-3-1 then reverted to a 4-4-2, when they started to get a little more joy. But, injuries permitting, I would suggest the following. Smithies; Bacuna, Morrison, Nelson, Bennett; Ralls, Vaulks; Hoilett, Wilson, Ojo; Glatzel.

The last meeting between these two sides was in February and produced a 2-2 draw. What’s your score prediction for this one?

I can't call it either way, if I'm honest, so if you would allow me, I will sit firmly on the fence. 1-1.

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