Chelsea vs Cardiff City Preview

English Premier League | Saturday 19 October | Stamford Bridge | 16:00



To Win (90mins)
Chelsea 1/4
Draw 47/10
Cardiff 11/1

CARDIFF

The Blue Birds will have to be at their very best on Saturday to stand any chance of grabbing at least a point.

Craig Bellamy is certainly a key player for Cardiff in this match up. The former Liverpool striker is a proven goal scorer, and has shone in Barclay's Premier League matches against top opposition. He can hurt any defence on his day, and Chelsea will have to be on their game to shut him down.

Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall will have a lot of work to do and so will his defence. Turner and Caulker will play a prominent role in shutting down Chelsea's attack minded players Eden Hazard and Willian, who had both came on to score against Norwich in their last meeting.

In midfield they have Medel, who will arguably be the most important player on the pitch for Cardiff.  He is the life-line through whom every part of play goes through. Even more impressive is hisaverage passing accuracy, which currently stands at 92% – the highest total of any active Cardiff City player, and the second highest in the Premier League behind Arsenal’s Mathieu Flamini (93%).

AlongsideMedel they have Gunnarsson, Cardiff’s own Frank Lampard. He is renowned for his trademark late runs and bursts forward during attacks, but also defends with astute discipline. How he goes up against the actual Lampard will prove a worthy challenge!

Cardiff City is certainly a team that has surprised many, especially after their home win over Manchester City. They will be hoping to add the Blues to their giant-killer list this Saturday.

FACT SHEET:
  • Cardiff have kept a clean sheet in just one of their seven Barclays Premier League games so far. 
  • Cardiff glovesman David Marshall has made more saves than any other Premier League goalkeeper this season (31).
  • Only four games have seen a side attempt 10 or more shots on target this season in the Premier League, two of which have been against Cardiff City (versus Spurs and Newcastle).
  • Cardiff have averaged 54% possession away from home in the Premier League this season; well above their home possession rate (40%).
  • Cardiff City have conceded four goals from outside the penalty area this season; a league-high.
  • Cardiff City scored seven goals to start the season, but have allowed nine. 
  • This includes an away record of 1-1-1 with three scored and four against.
  • Cardiff have suspended their head of recruitment Iain Moody and replaced him with an unknown 23-year-old, Kazakh Alisher Apsalyamov, who was formerly at the club on work experience. Apsalyamov is a friend of Cardiff owner Vincent Tan's son, giving a sense of nepotism to the appointment.  Moody helped Cardiff sign top summer recruits such as Gary Medel and Steven Caulker. 

CHELSEA

Jose Mourinho has a couple of big decisions to make over his Chelsea side to face Cardiff City this
weekend. Chelsea have made a decent start to the Premier League season, currently two points behind joint league leaders Arsenal and Liverpool.

Jose Mourinho will be wary of Cardiff City because they showed against Manchester City that they are capable of taking bigger team apart. Don't be surprised if the Portuguese coach fields his strongest side for this game.

He does have a couple of selection dilemmas ahead of the game, as he decides whether to throw Ashley Cole back into the side following a rib injury, and whether Fernando Torres’ will be fit following his knee problem.

If Cole is close to full fitness then he’ll play. He’s had time to rest following withdrawal from the England squad in the latest international break. However, Ryan Bertrand will slot in at left-back if Cole is still struggling with breathing issues caused by the rib injury.

Mata should continue on the right side of Chelsea’s midfield. He’ll be confident having won his Chelsea place back to go with the goal he scored for Spain on Tuesday, his first of the season in competitive football.

Schurrle has to start on the left of the Chelsea midfield following his hat-trick for Germany. That performance proved he can be a goal threat from the left hand side and he should work well with whoever does start at left-back.

It’s a toss up between Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o to start in attack with Fernando Torres likely to be named as a sub if he’s anything close to match fitness. This is the sort of game Eto’o can exploit as he looks to try and get his Chelsea career up and running.

It’s been a mixed start to the season for Chelsea, but the Blues has received more of a battering from the media than they have against any opponent on the pitch.

Chelsea’s start to the season hasn't been as terrible as some have tried to make it seem. Perhaps too many expected them to steamroll the league and never lose, but their 14 points with a 4-2-1 record is good enough to put them in third and only two points off of the top.

Mourinho said he was happy that the Blues had entered the two-week international break inside the Premier League's top four and insists his "sense of smell" can predict the different phases of matches before they happen.

FACT SHEET:
  • Chelsea have won 10 and drawn one of their last 11 Barclays Premier League games at Stamford Bridge. 
  • Chelsea have scored exactly two goals in each of their last eight home games in the Barclays Premier League. 
  • Petr Cech will make his 300th Premier League appearance in this match if selected, becoming the third player to reach this landmark for the club (after Lampard and Terry).
  • Eden Hazard has played more successful passes in the final third of the pitch than any other Premier League player in 2013-14 so far (135).
  • Chelsea are one of only two Premier League sides (along with Stoke City) for whom a striker has not scored a league goal this season.

VERDICT: Chelsea 1/4
We're calling a win for Chelsea here. Their pragmatic approach to the match means that Cardiff will struggle to score. However, if Cardiff are able to get a goal, they could certainly make it an interesting match considering Chelsea’s difficulties when succeeding goals. With that being said Chelsea are too strong at home and should cope with anything the Blue Birds throw at them.

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