Cardiff City v Fulham Preview: The battle of the newly promoted sides
The Cardiff players celebrate Danny Ward scoring via Getty Images

Cardiff City v Fulham Preview: The battle of the newly promoted sides

Cardiff City welcome Fulham to the Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday, as both sides look to kick start their respective seasons.

matthew-wojciow
Matthew Wojciow

Cardiff City are looking for their first win back in the Premier League and are hoping that can come against fellow strugglers and newly promoted Fulham. 

Cardiff have lost six and drawn two of their opening eight fixtures, however, fans will use the fact that they have faced three of last season's top six in a row, and a trip to Tottenham Hotspur, as reasons for poor form.

That fixture against Spurs was Cardiff's last game prior to the international break and there were some positives to take away from the narrow 1-0 loss. Despite playing the majority of the second half of the game with 10 men, Cardiff did come close to securing a point when Sean Morrison came close with a header but a fantastic Hugo Lloris saved denied the Bluebirds sharing the spoils. 

Fulham have also had a poor start to life back in the top flight, winning only one of their opening eight and conceding the most amount of goals in the league over this time, conceding 21, 2.6 per game. Fulham come into this game after a heavy 5-1 defeat at home to Arsenal before the international break. The Cottagers came back into that match and were level 1-1 at the interval. A second-half collapse is something that will concern fans and manager alike. 

Fulham have an edge in this fixture, after going unbeaten in the three meetings the two had last season in the Championship. The pairing did have two meetings at the Cardiff City Stadium last season and Fulham ran out 4-2 winners in the league and they also won 2-1 in the Emirates FA Cup. 

On the other hand, the last time these two faced each other in the Premier League, Cardiff won both of the fixtures, with the home fixture ending 3-1 to the Bluebirds.

Goals are the issue

Cardiff have struggled to score goals this season and are currently sitting on the joint lowest goals scored (alongside Huddersfield Town) with 4 goals. More worrying is that only one of those goals have been scored by a forward. 

Neil Warnock will need to look at finding a solution to this drought as his star man, Junior Hoilett has not really found his shooting boots yet, it might be time to give Bobby Reid a chance to replicate his form that made him so sought after at Bristol City. 

Conceding goals are the biggest concern

On the flipside to Cardiff, Fulham's biggest issue is conceding goals. After spending big in the summer on a number of players, they are finding stopping opposing teams from banging them in a difficult task.

The amount of combinations that Slavisa Jokanovic has tried is not clearly working. Injuries have been an issue but the best thing for a defence is finding consistency. 

The combinations have included the old guard of Denis Odoi and Tim Ream, alongside the new signings of Calum Chambers and Maxime Le Marchand and also between the sticks they can't nail down a number one. 

Which one of these two problems will give way. 

Team News 

Cardiff will be without midfielder Joe Ralls who begins his three game suspension. Forwards Gary Madine and Danny Ward are also out of the fixture. 

Aaron Gunnarsson and Alex Smithies remain sidelined. 

The Cottagers will still be without Tom Cairney who is struggling for match fitness, whilst Joe Bryan is still out with hamstring injury. In a piece of positive news, Timothy Fosu-Mensah may return from his shoulder injury. 

What the managers said

Bluebirds boss Warnock was a little upset at how Cardiff have been written off this season saying on BBC Sport: "I think we're 4/1 on [to be relegated] and they've thrown us to the wolves.

"I wouldn't, if I was a betting man, put money on [Cardiff staying up]. But I wouldn't have put a penny on us getting promotion last season.

"I would have said 'keep your money in your pocket, don't be stupid'. But some people won quite a lot of money and might do so again this year.

Jokanovic has downplayed the importance of this game saying: "The end of the game is not the end of the Premier League.

"If we win, [there is a] long period ahead of us and we will find more tough afternoons... If we lose, it's the same, there are 29 more games.

"All the games are important, it's not close to the end, this season we will finish in the middle of May."

Predicted Line-ups: 

Cardiff:

Etheridge, Manga, Morrisson, Bamba, Bennett, Camaresa, Hoilett, Arter, Murphy, Reid, Paterson

Fulham: 

Bettinelli, Odoi, Ream, Le Marchand, Christie, Seri, Anguissa, Sessegnon, Vietto, Mitrovic, Schurrle 

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