Cardiff City vs Burnley
Venue: Cardiff City Stadium
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Bottom-placed Cardiff City, who are looking for their first win of the season, will play host to a relatively upbeat Burnley who recorded their first victory last weekend with a 4-0 thumping of Bournemouth.
The home side have endured a tough start to life in the top flight, and they are joint-bottom in the league. Neil Warnock’s men have collected just two points, and both have been virtue of goalless draws. Their attack has been listless, and the much-heralded defence has failed to deliver as well. Many predicted that the Welsh side would get relegated, and unfortunately for the Bluebirds, that is looking like a valid opinion.
Burnley were also down in the dumps until last week when they resoundingly beat Bournemouth 4-0. It was their first convincing performance of the season and it was about time. Their short-lived Europa League campaign had arguably affected their Premier League matches but now they can focus solely on the league.
The Clarets should be hopeful of picking up all three points in Cardiff, which could heap the pressure on Warnock. Cardiff were demolished in their last home game by Manchester City, so they could adopt a wary approach against Sean Dyche’s side. Another heavy defeat could be too much to take and Warnock could prioritise ‘not losing’ over winning.
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing is still out for Cardiff, as he has not recovered from the injury he suffered at Huddersfield last month. However, Josh Murphy recovered from his problem to make the bench against Manchester City and got some minutes in a substitute cameo.
Iceland international Aron Gunnarsson continues to be on the sidelines after it seemed as though he would join the first team soon. He was nearing full fitness but suffered a knock in training before the Manchester City game which lengthened his absence. His strength and experience would have been useful for Cardiff.
Lee Peltier is another absentee as the full-back dislocated his shoulder last weekend, but Warnock has the majority of his squad at his disposal. His crucial decision will be in defence, as he dropped Sol Bamba and Joe Bennett last week out of the blue.
Midfielder Steven Defour could make his first Premier League appearance since January. He started the Carabao Cup game against Burton Albion on Tuesday night and played 74 minutes, which suggests he is ready to resume league duties. Though Burnley lost the game, Defour was pleased with his return and optimistic about the future.
Nick Pope’s return is still some weeks away and so Joe Hart will be expected to keep goal for the Clarets. The former Manchester City man has impressed for Sean Dyche and has revitalised his career.
Ben Gibson and Robbie Brady are the long-term absentees who will hope that they can return to first-team action as soon as possible. Other than that, Dyche’s main eleven is fairly settled. It remains to be seen whether Defour will replace Ashley Westwood in midfield.
Predicted Starting XI’s
Cardiff City: Etheridge; Bennett, Bamba, Morrison, Ecuele Manga; Ralls; Murphy, Arter, Camarasa, Hoilett; Ward.
Burnley: Hart; Taylor, Mee, Tarkowski, Lowton; Lennon, Defour, Cork, Gudmundsson; Vydra, Vokes.
Prediction: Burnley 2 Cardiff City 1
Expect Cardiff to play defensive and aim to strangulate their opponents with a compact backline. But Burnley looked impressive against Bournemouth and they should have enough to get the three points.