Cardiff City vs Huddersfield Town
Venue: Cardiff City Stadium
Referee: Lee Mason
Huddersfield Town, who are rooted to the bottom of the Premier League, will visit Cardiff hoping to bridge the gap between their opponents.
Cardiff crashed out of the FA Cup against Gillingham on Saturday, but that competition was a chimera for the Bluebirds. The main focus for Neil Warnock is surviving the Premier League drop this season. Their league position is 17th, one which they would gladly accept at the end of the campaign. Tottenham claimed an easy win in Cardiff last time, and bouncing back will e their main aim.
Things are far more bleak for Huddersfield though. They also suffered a cup exit midweek, but that’s the least of their worries. David Wagner’s side has lost eight league games in a row, and their last win came at the Molineux in November. Huddersfield are rooted to the bottom of the table, sitting on 10 points from 21 games. The bridge to safety is one of 8 points, and Cardiff are on the right side of it.
Time is running out for Wagner, and his side will have to go for it. First step: Cardiff. On paper, this is a good tie to get that elusive win, but Cardiff have been quite strong at home. Warnock could be happy to play it safe, and a point won’t be that bad an outcome for the Bluebirds. Here’s hoping that the match betters the one these teams played out back in August.
Two key players for Cardiff are a doubt for this game. Midfielders Victor Camarasa and Harry Arter are carrying knocks, and Warnock will be sweating about their fitness. Both of them are crucial to the side, so they will definitely be closely monitored. Camarasa especially has been brilliant for them, and he scored their last goal against Leicester.
The injury list contains quite a few attackers. Kenneth Zohore is still out, which would further assure Callum Paterson’s starting role. Danny Ward and Kadeem Harris are also sidelined, and both of them suffered setbacks in the midweek game. Jazz Richards continues to be a long-term absentee.
Should Camarasa or Arter fail to recover, Joe Ralls is ready to step in. Junior Hoilett and Josh Murphy look to be the first choice wingers right now, but there’s no concrete certainty. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Bobby Reid are in the mix as well.
The Terriers will be without their best player, as Aaron Mooy continues his long spell on the sidelines. He is expected to return as the month ends, and he will be sorely missed in midfield. Danny Williams and Tom Smith will also be absent from the Huddersfield squad.
Huddersfield recruited Jason Puncheon from Crystal Palace on loan for the remainder of the season. He would be integrated into the squad sooner than later, and he should make the squad against Cardiff. Wagner made changes for the midweek tie, but he will revert to the trusted outfit.
The likes of Alex Pritchard, Philip Billing, and Steve Mounie should return to the lineup. Elias Kachunga and Isaac Mbenza will be hopeful of a start, and Huddersfield need all the help they can in the final third.
Predicted Starting XIs
Cardiff City (4-1-4-1): Etheridge; Bennett, Morrison, Bamba, Ecuele Manga; Gunnarsson; Murphy, Arter, Camarasa, Hoilett; Paterson.
Huddersfield Town (4-2-3-1): Lossl; Kongolo, Schindler, Jorgensen, Hadergjonaj; Billing, Hogg; Puncheon, Pritchard, Kachunga; Mounie.
Score Prediction: Cardiff City 1 Huddersfield Town 0
There won’t be many fireworks in the final third, but Cardiff’s home form should see them eke out a win.