Neil Warnock and his Cardiff side have had a challenging return to the Premier League which has seen the Welsh side take only two points out of a potential nine in their opening three fixtures. However, it is their goalless start to the campaign that may be the most troubling statistic for fans and Warnock alike to face.
Cardiff have failed to hit the back of the net against Bournemouth, Newcastle and Huddersfield – sides that may be struggling alongside the Bluebirds come the end of season relegation battle. They have now failed to score in four consecutive games, something that had not done since November 2015. The Bluebirds have played a style of football that would be expected of a Neil Warnock side; they are tenacious and organised defensively but are yet to break down an oppositions defence. The question is: where are goals going to come from?
The Welsh sides second place finish in the Championship last season saw them score sixty-nine goals which was joint with Derby County as the second least goals scored out of the top six sides. Despite this, Warnock’s side were defensively strong conceding only 39 goals, the joint best record alongside champions Wolves. This defensive organisation has transferred from the Championship to the Premier as they have only conceded twice which was on the opening day against Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth; this was however in part thanks to goalkeeper Neil Etheridge. The worry is whether they will be able to score goals against stronger sides who are able to break down their resilient defence and this without doubt has to be addressed by Warnock.
They also lacked a stand out goal scorer last season. Their top goal scorer was defender Calum Paterson who scored ten times; whilst their attackers, Junior Hoilett and Kenneth Zohore both scored nine times. Worrying to say the least. Yet, this does show that there is potential for goals around the squad, but there is not enough coming from strikers and there is a lack of Premier League experience throughout it.
New signings in attack
Having known this could likely be an issue for the upcoming campaign, Warnock has added to his attack. He signed Bristol City attacker Bobby Reid who scored 19 times and finished third in the race for the Championships golden boot as well as winger Josh Murphy from Norwich. Whilst both had strong seasons at their previous clubs, they both once again lack Premier League knowledge. Both signings have featured in all three of Cardiff’s opening games but have failed to score. Josh Murphy put in a man of the match performance against Newcastle but fans will be hoping that the new boys will start scoring goals very soon. It may take time for these players to settle into a new club and new league and time is something that Cardiff and Warnock may be short of. A poor start to a Premier League campaign can soon see teams adrift from opposition and facing relegation.
Cardiff may look to bolster their attack when the transfer window reopens in January if their goalscoring woes continue but for now they will have to rely on the players that earnt the side automatic promotion last season.
Warnock in the Premier League
Warnock has only won one game in his last 15 attempts in the Premier League. He has the support of his fans after last seasons campaign but without wins, fans may lose patience. Warnock will need goals to come quickly if he looks to change his luck as a Premier League manager. His side have also failed to score against 10-man opposition twice after Newcastle and Huddersfield both suffered red-cards in the respective fixtures.
Although his side desperately need goals they may be relying on a resolute defence as their next three fixtures see them face Arsenal, Chelsea and Man City. These fixtures based on current form suggest Cardiff may face a difficult September in which their full squad will need to perform to earn points against difficult opposition. For Cardiff, goals cannot come soon enough. However, fans may have to prepare for a relegation battle if their goal draught continues and I am sure they will be prepared.