In their second game since the Emiliano Sala tragedy, Cardiff City welcome Bournemouth to the Cardiff City Stadium.
Eddie Howe’s side visited South Wales off the back of an emphatic 4-0 win over Chelsea, a superb result. Many would’ve predicted another win for the Cherries, but Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City came out on top in this one.
How did they do it? We investigate in the VFTN Analysis.
Cardiff do Emiliano Sala proud
New signing Emiliano Sala should’ve been making his home debut on Saturday, but instead the Cardiff City Stadium paid tribute to the striker we never saw kick a ball.
It was an emotional day in South Wales, with everyone paying their tributes to Sala.
On and off the pitch, everybody did Sala, and pilot David Ibbotson, proud.
— Cardiff City FC (@CardiffCityFC) February 2, 2019
Niasse adds a different element to Cardiff’s game
For the first time this season, Cardiff had a striker who looked to penetrate teams in behind in Oumar Niasse. The on-loan Everton forward had a stellar game, constantly punishing the Bournemouth back line and giving Cardiff the opportunity to break up field.
Callum Paterson has been superb this season in an unorthodox role up front, but he lacked the pace and movement to give Cardiff an option in behind.
Niasse did just that and to tremendous effect. Bournemouth dominated possession – 73.1% to be exact – meaning that their defensive line was often camped on the half way line.
This provided space for Niasse to run into and an outlet for Cardiff to break quickly.
The Bobby Reid Show
While Niasse was highly effective in penetrating the space in behind Bournemouth’s back line, it really was the Bobby Reid show at the Cardiff City Stadium.
As fans, we’ve constantly talked about the impact Bobby Reid could make playing off an out and out striker, but Saturday was the first real example of that.
With two goals, Reid won Cardiff the game. More impressive than the goals, though, was Reid’s all-action performance. He constantly dropped deep and helped out defensively. A superb performance.
In the example above, Reid has absolutely busted a gut to get back and track the Bournemouth midfielder. He’s made sure he’s goal side and ready to defend. Outstanding work rate from the City forward.
Man-Marking highly effective
I’ve been critical at times this season of Neil Warnock’s cross-pitch man-marking system, but on Saturday it worked perfectly.
Bournemouth’s movement was superb, but Cardiff were able to track them man for man and suffocate the space.
Having two midfielders – Aron Gunnarsson and Joe Ralls – who tend to sit back certainly helped, while Josh Murphy and Callum Paterson were highly disciplined in the defensive aspect of the game.
A game we’ll all remember for a long time. Cardiff were outstanding on what was an emotional game for all involved. Chants of sing a song for Sala, with Neil Warnock applauding the fans with a tear in his eyes, will stay with me forever.
Tactically, Cardiff were superb too. There were so many positives, it was impossible to list them all. Callum Paterson was superb as a vertical winger, Josh Murphy dominated the battle with Nathaniel Clyne, Lee Peltier stood up to the plate yet again and Joe Ralls showed that he’s settled into Premier League football with an assured central midfield display. There was even an encouraging cameo from Kenneth Zohore!
Scott is a lifelong Cardiff City fan and freelance football writer. Scott hosts the VFTN podcast.