Earlier this season, Cardiff played Chelsea at Stamford Bridge before following it up with a home tie against Manchester City. But now the roles are reversed. An away game against Manchester City after a home tie against Chelsea. After the injustice of Craig Pawson and his teams incompetence at the weekend, Cardiff City have the small task of rousing themselves for *checks notes* Manchester City away. Is it too early for an Easter Miracle?
Manchester City vs. Cardiff City
The Etihad, Manchester
3rd April 2019, 7:45pm (BST)
Referee: Anyone but Craig Pawson
Predicted Starting XI
Three things to look out for
The under 23s. If we’d beaten Chelsea at the weekend, this game would be a dead rubber. Manchester City are one of the best, if not the best, footballing side the Premier League has ever seen. Their attacking prowess is second to none, even with Aguero out injured. After Sunday’s debacle, Warnock joked that he might play his under 23s tonight at the Etihad. And, frankly, who can blame him? We have four crucial games beyond tonight – Burnley, Brighton, Fulham, Palace – and we need to save crucial players fitness. Both Arter and Gunnar suffered on Sunday and they might be in line for a rest tonight.
Bobby Reid and Big Ken. Bobby seemed to have a good record against Manchester clubs last season and while Niasse worked hard at the weekend, it was without result. Zohore came on and immediately caused enough havoc that Rudiger should have been sent off. We’re going to need outlets tonight as our backs will be very much up against the wall. I’d be inclined to give them a run out.
Murphy’s moment. Josh Murphy is close to regaining his early season form, following his mid-season blip, and he was brilliant against Chelsea, cutting in and out on the wings. Noone had some joy last time we played at the Etihad and I believe Murphy should be afforded somewhat more of a free role tonight. Our joy is going to be on the counter attack and him running at defenders who aren’t necessarily used to players being direct could cause some problems.
Man City Players to watch out for
Sergio Aguero is, in my view, the best striker this division has ever seen. He’s tricky, quick, got incredible football intelligence, and scores consistently. So in a small mercy for Cardiff, he’s out injured tonight.
But Man City may have several other players willing to step up. Sterling, De Bruyne, Sane, Gabriel Jesus, Bernardo Silva, Mahrez. I mean, you can probably revisit my preview from earlier this year. They have complete strength in depth, and they are having a brilliant season despite players like De Bruyne struggling with injury. They are a complete footballing side. I hate them.
Best Case Result
The players have fuel for the fire after Sunday and held Chelsea off until the linesmen gave Chelsea a boost going into the last 10 minutes of the game. Without that goal, we would have beaten Chelsea. Pelts shackled Hazard well. We can all take some kind of optimism from this. I’m giddy off two cups of coffee on an empty stomach so I’m going all out on Cardiff winning 1-0.*
Worst case result
We might only lose by three. But if Man City are rampant, which they will be, this could be a massacre. They’ve beaten Burnley by five, Huddersfield by a similar margin. So who knows what tonight could bring? It could be 5-0 or more.