Cardiff vs AFC Bournemouth
Venue: Cardiff City Stadium
TV: Sky Sports
Referee: Jonathan Moss
The Cardiff City Stadium is expecting an emotional occasion when the city comes together to wish for Emiliano Sala, who might not be there in person but will be in every single one’s thoughts and hearts. The game will be the first time Cardiff have played at home since their January signing disappeared in a plane crash over the English Channel.
Cardiff’s fans will pay tribute to Sala following the disappearance of their record signing and defender Sol Bamba believes the tragedy has united the squad.
He said on Sky Sports News: “We were a tight dressing room anyway, but I think this has made us even tighter and we have come together even more.”
The Bluebirds were beaten 2-1 at Arsenal in their first outing since Sala went missing, with Nathaniel Mendez-Laing’s stoppage-time effort proving a mere consolation.
“Obviously, it was very emotional for us after what happened,” added Bamba. “As professionals, we’ve got a job to do and obviously we wanted to win the game, but it wasn’t to be.
“I think we needed something like this game to get under way, so we can try and get back to normal. Obviously, we wanted to do well for Sala, everyone wanted to play for him and for the club.”
Those sentiments will be magnified by appearing in front of their own fans, so Cardiff can be expected to give a good account of themselves.
The team from Dorset meanwhile will be desperate to get back into the pitch and pick up from where they left things the last day. To put four past a team like Chelsea, and to keep a clean sheet as well, the management better must have given the players a raise in salary, for these are not everyday occurrences.
Eddie Howe’s side moved up to 10th in the Premier League table after stunning Chelsea in midweek.
Bournemouth will be looking to consolidate their position in the top half of the table with a victory. The Cherries turned on the style at the Vitality Stadium, scoring four goals in an emphatic victory over Maurizio Sarris’s beleaguered side.
Back-to-back league wins at the Vitality Stadium against West Ham United and Chelsea ended a poor run of league form for Eddie Howe’s men, which saw them win only once in seven Premier League matches. Their resounding victory over Chelsea in Wednesday’s encounter was their first ever home Premier League win over The Blues.
Cardiff: Form and Stats
Having returned to the Premier League following a four-year absence, Cardiff are facing a battle to preserve their top-flight status with 14 games remaining.
Written off by some before a ball had been kicked, the Bluebirds have experienced fluctuating fortunes and are currently four points adrift of safety in 18th after losing five and winning just one of their last eight league games, having won three of their previous five.
Only Fulham have conceded more goals on the road than Bournemouth this season, while almost three-quarters of Cardiff’s points have come at the Cardiff City Stadium
Cardiff remained in the bottom three after suffering a 2-1 defeat at Arsenal on Tuesday night. It was an emotional affair for all at the Emirates as Cardiff played for the first time since the tragic disappearance of record-signing Emiliano Sala.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette gave Arsenal a two-goal lead before substitute Nathaniel Mendez-Laing pulled one back for Cardiff deep into second-half stoppage time.
Neil Warnock’s side begin the weekend in 18th position, four points from safety and really do need to learn to fly, or else it’s just a steep fall to the Championship this summer. They are four points off the safety as of now, and the teams above, the likes of Crystal Palace, Newcastle etc. are not making it easy. Just 14 more rounds remain in the season, and the time to act is now.
AFC Bournemouth: Form and Stats
It is hard to know what to expect from Bournemouth. They thrashed Chelsea 4-0 on Wednesday but have lost seven successive away games.
Someone higher up in the Premier League scheduler must have had a deep hatred towards the Cherries. Just look at the opponents in their last seven matches on the road. Everton, Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham, Chelsea, Wolves, and finally Newcastle. I really do hope their insurance plan covers therapy.
Anyhow, after a difficult set of matches, they have been awarded an easier foe. They are expected to make the most out of it.
Boscombe tore apart Maurizio Sarris’s men in their last match-day. It was obvious that the former champions were going through some inner issues, but a 4-0 drubbing was unexpected. All credit to Eddie Howe and his boys. After their shock treatment to the Blues, the team turns towards a lighter fixture, in the form of Cardiff.
Neil Etheridge – Cardiff
With the emotions running high and Bournemouth’s form, expect Ethridge to be the busiest Cardiff player. The Philippines international has been in tremendous form saving three penalties and crucial points for a squad struggling to score goals and conceding the greatest number of goals at home
In the first game week of the season, Bournemouth gave Cardiff a welcome to the Premier League by beating the recently promoted team 2-0 on their return to the top flight. Wilson and Ryan Fraser both got on the score sheet while Neil Etheridge saved Wilson’s penalty.
He was so typically resolute against Arsenal last time out that you were almost disappointed when he didn’t save the penalty, such is his record.
Josh King – AFC Bournemouth
The Norwegian has stepped up Wilson’s absence and how. He popped up with a phenomenal performance and two beautiful strikes on Wednesday. He also added an assist, his third, to his haul against Chelsea to add to his eight goals in an injury pronged yet efficient year.
With two goals and two assists over his last two matches, and news that Callum Wilson will likely be out about a month, it may be time for people to start bringing King back into their Fantasy teams as well!!
Can Josh King continue where he let off at Dean Court with his brace against Chelsea, this time on away soil
Cardiff v Bournemouth | Stats
Cardiff and AFC Bournemouth have locked horns 33 times in the top three flights since 1931 with the Cherries winning 13, the Bluebirds 11 and nine draws.
The Cherries and the Bluebirds have fought out two 0-0 draws in the league, the last of which came more than 80 years ago at Dean Court in Division Three (South). The other stalemate was at Ninian Park in March 1932.
Jason Tindall, utilised as an emergency striker, scored the Cherries’ last goal at Ninian Park, his effort seeing them battle back for a 2-2 draw in the third tier in August 2001. Eddie Howe captained Mel Machin’s team.
Harry Arter scored for the Cherries in their only league game at the Cardiff City Stadium, his strike helping them draw 1-1 in the Championship in March 2015.
The Cherries have lost just one of their past nine league meetings with the Bluebirds, Derek Holmes netting a consolation in a 3-1 defeat at Dean Court in February 2002. Sean O’Driscoll’s team went on to be relegated from the third tier before returning to the Welsh capital the following season to win the play-off final.
Both clubs were officially founded in 1899.
Head to Head
Bournemouth have the edge over Cardiff in recent clashes, winning three of their last five games. The Cherries secured a 2-0 victory over Premier League newcomers Cardiff on the opening day of the season. Previous five meetings:
Leandro Bacuna is expected to start for Cardiff after signing from Reading on transfer deadline day.
Harry Arter is ineligible to face his parent club, but Victor Camarasa and Josh Murphy could return after missing the midweek defeat by Arsenal.
Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson has had minor knee surgery and will be out for a further three weeks, while Jefferson Lerma’s ankle injury will be assessed.
Dominic Solanke could make his debut after overcoming a hamstring problem. The striker was an unused substitute for the midweek win against Chelsea.
Predicted Starting XIs
Cardiff (4-4-2): Etheridge; Peltier, Ecuele Manga, Bamba, Bennett; Mendez Laing, Ralls, Gunnarsson, Reid; Paterson, Niasse.
Bournemouth (4-3-3): Boruc; Clyne, Cook, Ake, Smith; Surman, Gosling, Stanislas, Fraser; King, Brooks.
Prediction: Cardiff 1 Bournemouth 2
After the horror-show of the away fixture they have had in the last several weeks, the Bournemouth players will be relieved to get a comparatively easier opponent. Likely, the visitors will be keen to set straight their misleading away stats, and I see them scoring the first goal of the game.
Cardiff might have been beaten at Arsenal, but they played well and everyone at the club deserves a huge amount of credit for the way they have dealt with the aftermath of Emiliano Sala’s disappearance.
This, their first home game since Sala’s plane went missing, is going to be another emotional occasion and it is going to be hard for them to deal with everything all over again.
Moreover, the team from Wales are going through a five-match winless run and picked up just one victory from their last nine attempts. It’s hard to envisage them beating a peak Boscombe.