Tottenham Hotspur v Cardiff Preview: Winless Bluebirds face Wembley challenge
Photo: Paul Gillett

Tottenham Hotspur v Cardiff Preview: Winless Bluebirds face Wembley challenge

Spurs will hope to continue their climb up the league table following back to back wins, whilst the Bluebirds still look for their first.

Dan Moffat

Neil Warnock's Cardiff City travel to Wembley this Saturday afternoon to face a Tottenham Hotspur side looking for their third consecutive league win.

The Lillywhites sit in fourth place following back to back league wins against Huddersfield and Brighton, but suffered a setback midweek against Barcelona, with Lionel Messi again showing why he is regarded as the best of all time.

The Bluebirds dropped to nineteenth after last weeks demoralising defeat at home to Burnley, and are still on the hunt for their first league win of the season.

Mauricio Pochettino's side are unbeaten in thirty-seven games against newly promoted sides, winning thirty-four and drawing three, with victory for Spurs giving them eighteen points, equalling their best Premier League tally after eight matches.

The two teams faced each other during City's last appearance in the top flight in the 2013/14 season when Spurs won both home and away games 1-0. Ironically the Bluebirds last Premier League win came against a Southampton side managed by Pochettino in April 2014.

Team News

Spurs currently face an injury crisis with several key players ruled out of the game on Saturday, including defender Jan Vertonghen, who is absent with a hamstring problem that could rule him out for up to six weeks.

Midfielders Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Mousa Dembele are all also sidelined for the visit of the Bluebirds.

Ivorian international Serge Aurier is also unavailable due to a thigh injury picked up during the Carabao Cup clash against Watford.

For Cardiff, Aron Gunnarsson remains sidelined with a knee problem but could return against Fulham after the international break, which would please Cardiff as they seek for a resolution to their defensive problems.

Winger Junior Hoilett is available again for the Bluebirds after missing out last weekend due to a virus.

Lee Peltier and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing are both still recovering from injuries picked up earlier in the season.

Predicted starting XI's:

Spurs: Lloris, Rose, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Trippier, Winks, Dier, Moura, Lamela, Son, Kane.

Cardiff: Etheridge, Bennett, Bamba, Morrison, Manga, Murphy, Ralls, Arter, Camarasa, Paterson, Ward.

Key Clashes

Bluebirds captain Sean Morrison will have his hands full on Saturday, being tasked with keeping track of England's world cup golden boot winner Harry Kane.

Cardiff are the only side out of the 27 Kane has faced in the Premier League that he is yet to score against.

The front-man has been crucial in the team's league finishes over the last three seasons, with two third place finishes and a second place finish in the 2016/17 season. Kane has also been the Lillywhite's top scorer for the last four seasons,  claiming the golden boot in two of these.

The World Cup semi-finalist has started where he left off last campaign, scoring five in his opening seven games. 

Cardiff stalwart Morrison was crucial last year in the Bluebirds fight for promotion - with the team conceding just thirty-nine goals in forty-six Championship games - and will be hoping to keep the likes of Kane and Lucas Moura quiet. 

Clash of Play Styles

Neil Warnock and Mauricio Pochettino are two very different managers, with two very different play styles.

The 'Cardiff way' of football has been described as 'anti-football' by many an angered Championship fan, who saw their team succumb to the style played by the Welsh side last season. Some say boring, but none say ineffective, especially when looking at their road to promotion last season. 

The Bluebirds rough and ready approach has not worked so far this season, and Warnock has began to change his approach, as can be seen in the performance last week at home to Burnley. City controlled the game and played some decent football at times, just lacking a clinical edge to their game. 

Warnock's side have already faced the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal this season, two teams who know how to pass a ball, with possession football instilled in the clubs by their managers.

Come Saturday evening they will have faced five of last years top seven in their first eight matches, and Spurs will provide a different tactical approach.

The Pochettino way of building up from the back has seen them dismantle Manchester United 3-0 at Old Trafford this season, but has been contentious at times.

The Spurs boss has defended his lack of a plan B in recent weeks by telling The Independent: "We are a team who are comfortable in possession, in the opposition half, that is the team we have, the players we have, it is impossible to change".

Undoubtedly, Cardiff will have to play smart on Saturday, and bide their time against a team that could score three or four if allowed, but it gives for an interesting game given the polar opposite play styles.

What the managers are saying

Despite Cardiff's league position, Spurs boss Pochettino insists it will be a tough game: "With full respect to Cardiff it will be a tough game, in the Premier League there are no easy games.

"The most dificult game is the game that everyone believes outside of the team that you must win, it has been difficult for teams to beat them... we're so focused to not be affected by Wednesday."

Neil Warnock has looked to summer signing Josh Murphy to be 'Cardiff's Messi' against Spurs on Saturday: "All you've got to do to beat Tottenham is have a Messi, Maybe Josh Murphy is our Messi - we'll have to call him Jessi or something.

"We need to grind out results until January, maybe try one or two things to see if we can get goals from other areas."

Warnock also commented on his opposite number, Pochettino: "He's a lovely guy. They should have beaten Inter Milan, they played so well, they're a really good exciting team and with the English lads they've got we should be proud of Pochettino for giving them an opportunity".