After the 3-0 loss to Reading, there were feelings of discontent among Cardiff fans. It meant that Cardiff had recorded two losses from their opening three games.
The first midweek match of the season saw the Bluebirds improve and get back to winning ways with a 2-1 victory over Huddersfield Town, who were managed by former Cardiff captain Mark Hudson.
Cardiff show grit and fight
We can analyse the stats all we want but perhaps the most pleasing thing about Cardiff’s win over Huddersfield was the grit and fight Cardiff displayed. It wasn’t perfect and there’s plenty to improve on but this was a sign that Cardiff were getting back to what they do best.
During the 2017/18 season, Neil Warnock’s side registered a fair few late wins and yesterday’s win made it two late winners already this season.
Warnock will be looking to cut out the sloppy goals, but will surely be pleased that his side is showing the desire to go and get a winner so late in the game.
Cardiff continue to make good use of the ball
We talked at length last week about Cardiff’s lack of possession and what that really means. In fact, Ben James wrote a brilliant piece on it. Go check it out.
On Wednesday night, Cardiff continued their good use of the ball. Sure, Huddersfield dominated possession but it’s what they did with it that matters. Cardiff completed just 292 passes compared to Huddersfield’s 455, but the Bluebirds were more accurate with their passes into the final third, completing 16 key passes to Huddersfield’s 6.
That’s Neil Warnock’s football in a nutshell. While some fans may scratch their heads at the lack of keeping the ball, Warnock believes in being dangerous in the final third. Cardiff are starting to look dangerous and that’s exciting.
Josh Murphy is trying to make things happen
Josh Murphy is an exciting winger, to me. He may be frustrating and doesn’t always get it right but he is a player that can get fans up off their seats as he runs with the ball.
Murphy gets a fair bit of stick but last night he was trying to make things happen more than any other player. Murphy completed more key passes than anyone else on the field (6). The closest in a Cardiff shirt were Bennett, Ralls, and Glatzel, who all completed two key passes.
There’s no doubt the former Norwich wingers needs to be more consistent and needs to better when running with the ball. He failed to complete a dribble last night and was dispossessed seven times.
It’s certainly where Murphy needs to improve but there’s little doubt in my mind that he’s Cardiff’s best winger right now and is the one that is looking to make things happen.
Cardiff need to do more to bring Robert Glatzel into the game
Cardiff’s new centre forward has shown promising signs to life in South Wales, but Neil Warnock needs to encourage his side to bring the German into the game a bit more.
Glatzel should’ve scored last night, to be fair, with the ball ricocheting to him in front of goal, but pressure from the Huddersfield defender saw him fire over.
That said, it felt at times that Glatzel was feeding off scraps and was desperate for better service. Between the midfielders and wingers, Cardiff took 15 shots – a number from distance. Lee Tomlin accounted for eight of those shots.
That meant that Cardiff failed to bring Glatzel into play too often. While the German did manage 5 shots, he was feeding on scraps a number of times.
Below is the pass map of the four most common combinations into Robert Glatzel. As you can see, very few are being played into areas that Glatzel can be dangerous. Similarly, the majority of passes are being lumped long to the German, who did win more aerial duels (5) than any other Cardiff player.
There’s no doubt that the German is doing well to lead the line. He’s winning the ball in the air and is bringing Cardiff’s wingers and number 10 into play. The German combined with Lee Tomlin and Gavin Whyte on 5 occasions each, showing that those partnerships are starting to blossom.
Lee Tomlin gets the fans excited
There’s been clamour for Lee Tomlin this season and with Bobby Reid out of the picture the attacking midfielder over his bout of shits, Cardiff fans got their wishes.
Tomlin was impressive; he showed sparks of creativity and his work rate was higher than I’ve ever seen in a Cardiff shirt. He was desperate for a goal, taking eight shots – more than any other player on the pitch.
The stats above, taken from Stats Zone, demonstrate that five of Tomlin’s eight shots were taken from outside the box and only two of his eight were on target. There was an element of Tomlin trying hard to impress last night – and that’s not a criticism – but at times his eagerness to shoot from distance meant that Cardiff were unable to bring Glatzel into the game or put real pressure on the Huddersfield defence.
That said, it was an extremely promising display from the former Bristol City man. He linked up well overall and looks to be a real option this season.
Scott is a lifelong Cardiff City fan and freelance football writer. Scott hosts the VFTN podcast.