Cardiff City vs Tottenham Hotspur
Venue: Cardiff City Stadium
TV: Sky Sports Main Event
Referee: Mike Dean
New Year’s Day’s teatime fixture sees Cardiff host Tottenham as the Bluebirds hope to grab back-to-back victories for the first time this season.
Cardiff claimed all three points at the King Power Stadium on Saturday after Camarasa scored a goal worthy of winning any match in the second minute of stoppage time. Three days earlier Neil Warnock’s men were able to grind out a draw at Crystal Palace and the Bluebirds now find themselves sitting four points above the relegation zone.
If the south Wales outfit were able to grind out a win or even a draw on Tuesday, they would put themselves in good stead to continue the relegation battle for the rest of the second half of the season. The Bluebirds have a decent home record for a newly-promoted side and will probably give Spurs a run for their money.
However, it’s fair to say that Cardiff haven’t exactly been giant slayers this season. The Bluebirds have lost every game they’ve played against the top six, conceding 17 goals in the process. It may be of some comfort to Cardiff fans that their team lost by just one goal when they travelled to Wembley in the reverse fixture, but Tottenham are scoring more freely than they were in October and have been especially clinical away from home.
Spurs looked set to end 2018 in spectacular fashion, but any premature celebrations from the fans were promptly halted by Wolves, who came back from a goal down to win 3-1. Before this match, Tottenham were beginning to look like title contenders with some eye-catching displays that saw them leapfrog in front of Manchester City into second place.
Of course, there is practically half a season left to play, so writing any of the top four off wouldn’t be completely rational. An expected victory in the Welsh capital would bring Tottenham back to within six points of Liverpool before the Reds face off against Manchester City two days later.
Ultimately, this match against Cardiff truly is a must-win for Spurs, otherwise, they won’t only be totally out of the title race, they will also be in danger of London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal sneaking up on them and forcing them out of the top four.
There are no new injury concerns for Cardiff City to worry about. Ashley Richards, Danny Ward and Kenneth Zohore have all been dealing with long-term injuries thus will not be available on Tuesday. Warnock will otherwise have his usual full squad to work with ahead of the match.
The same goes for Tottenham, although their injury list is considerably more extensive than Cardiff’s. Erik Lamela missed the game against Wolves and is unlikely to be fit enough to start in Wales, but may make an appearance as a substitute.
Serge Aurier is another player who hasn’t seen much game time recently due to a niggling groin strain, but the Ivorian has returned to training and may be played on Tuesday, allowing Kieran Trippier a rest. Moussa Dembele, Eric Dier and Jan Vertonghen are unexpected to return from their respective injuries before mid-January, while Victor Wanyama continues rehabilitation from his knee injury.
Predicted Starting XIs
Cardiff City (4-4-1-1): Etheridge; Manga, Morrison, Bamba, Bennett; Hoilett, Arter, Gunnarsson, Murphy; Camarasa; Reid
Tottenham Hotspur (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Trippier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Davies; Sissoko, Winks; Son, Eriksen, Alli; Kane
Score Prediction: Cardiff City 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1
The blip against Wolves may have drastically knocked their confidence, but Spurs remain strong favourites to beat Cardiff. Their away form should end up being too much for Cardiff to handle, but the Lilywhites will have to be careful not to be caught out from a counter attack.