A new stadium for Cardiff fans as we visit the London Stadium/Olympic Stadium/Westfield (delete as applicable) for a visit to West Ham. West Ham beat Newcastle over the weekend, in a ground where West Ham fans were, basically, on the pitch. This game could go either way and a relatively confident Cardiff will be hopeful of getting something in our first midweek game of the season…
Expected starting XI
(NB: I don’t think I’ve got this right once this season, which is fine – Warnock loves a little change here and there)
And three things to watch out for…
The return of a full back. Warnock stunned everyone with his selection on Friday, playing any one of Ralls, Victor, and Hoilett at wing back. With Cunningham and Bennett getting fitter, and being away from home, I’d expect one of the above to come back in for one of the many central midfielders we played. It remains to be seen if Gunnar can manage two games in a short space of time but, on a tactical level, I’d prefer him to someone like Ralls away from home.
A more mobile Murphy. The last couple of games has seen Josh Murphy playing more like a false 9. Not quite a winger, not quite a striker. And while he had some good moments against Wolves, he did look a little restrained. He works best running on to the ball, with a full back in front of him. If we go back to our traditional formation, there’s a good chance Murphy will be back playing where he wants to be.
A confident Hoilett. Hoilett needed that goal on Friday. He grew into the game and his goal must be in the running for goal of the season. He shone in tough environments last year and playing him higher up the pitch will allow him to pick the pocket of a full back or two and break the back line. Once he’s in on goal, he can be lethal as showed at Millwall last season. Hopefully Friday is the beginning of him s return to top form.
Players to watch out for
Felipe Anderson was a surprise signing in the summer and while he, like West Ham, took a little while to get going, he’s certainly impressing now. An attacking midfielder with an eye for goal, he scored at Mewcastle at the weekend his tail will be up.
There aren’t many more natural strikers in this league than Chicharito. A player who can score a lot of goals as long as they are in the 18 yard box. An old fashioned poacher as well as a slick finisher, he seems to have the knack of dropping off the shoulder of defenders to find that open space in between two centre backs.
Best case result
On Friday, Cardiff suffocated Wolves two best players – Ruben Neves didn’t even make a completed pass – and a performance like this at the London Stadium would give us a great chance. West Ham are a good side but liable to self destruct and they are still finding their feet under Pellegrini. More of Friday and there’s no reason we can’t come away with a 2-1 win.
Worst case result
Though Man City hammered West Ham, West Ham made chances and the score line was somewhat flattering. Against Newcastle, West Ham eased to a 3-0 win and looked good for the result too. They are a team that are close to finding their groove; and if they start well tonight, they could run away with it. 3-0