Cardiff City are back in the Premier League and their first game of the campaign is a televised clash against Newcastle in the Welsh capital. Neil Warnock’s men made their home stadium a fortress as they won promotion last season and they will fancy their chances of getting their first points of the season against Newcastle. Rafa Benitez’s men lost their opener against Tottenham but they were very unfortunate after missing several glaring chances.
This promises to be a real blood and thunder encounter with the crowd sure to roar on the home side. Cardiff’s direct approach is extremely tought to deal with as they really do look to go long at every opportunity be it from free-kicks or throw-ins and it will present Newcastle with a style of play that they haven’t faced since returning to the top-flight.
Yet there are serious question marks about the technical ability of this Cardiff team and whilst they will ruffle feathers, doubts remain about their ability at either ends of the pitch. Newcastle will hope to exploit that and despite suffering from a summer of turmoil with off-the-field issues making the headlines, they have some talented players and will hope that if they can deal with the physicality of Cardiff, their quality will tell.
Either way it should be an intriguing game to kick-off the Premier League football this weekend and it resumes the Warnock, Benitez rivalry that began back in 2003 when the Spaniard was at Liverpool and Warnock with Sheffield United.
Cardiff City vs Newcastle United Prediction: Cardiff 1-1 Newcastle
There’s no getting away from the fact that it’s going to be a very hard season for Cardiff as financially they can’t compete with most of the sides in the league. However, there’s also no doubt that in a one-off game they have the tools to cause major upsets.
And, the first game at their stadium promises to be a massive occasion for the club. The fans will be up for it, they will create a hostile atmosphere and that could see the team win free-kicks, get decisions and bombard Newcastle with their approach. Yet, Benitez is a tactically gifted manager and he will know exactly what to expect having faced Warnock sides in the past. If they can ride out the early storm then he will look to get the likes of Jonjo Shelvey, Kenedy and Ayoze Perez on the ball and he will hope they can make the difference.
Ultimately, we are expecting a tight, frenetic encounter and it really could go either way, so the draw looks a good bet and both have enough to get on the scoresheet.
Our recommended tip: Both to score
Whilst we’ve highlighted Cardiff’s direct approach, they do have talented footballers too, with Bobby Reid and Junior Hoilett capable of providing them with quality on the ball and pace on the break.
However, you can’t get away from how direct they are – and there’s nothing wrong with it. Warnock is ensuring his side play to their strengths, as they boast several powerful, dominant players. Every set-piece is a threat, they have quality from dead balls and they will cause havoc against anyone from these situations and it’s easy to see a goal coming from this avenue.
Yet, Newcastle will be very encouraged from their display against Spurs last week. Mauricio Pochettino’s side are one of the best in the country and they had several good chances against them and deserved at least a draw. They played with purpose, created chances and the luck went against them. However, if they play anywhere near that level they are sure to get opportunities against a limited Bluebirds side.
This fixture has been a regular over the years and it’s one that Newcastle have edged, winning 27 of the 56 previous encounters. The Magpies have also dominated this fixture in recent years, emerging victorious in the last ten league games between the sides, although Cardiff did win an FA Cup tie in 2014.
The most recent games came in the 2016/17 season, one that Newcastle fans will remember fondly as they won promotion back to the top-flight with relative ease. The north-east side won at St. James’ Park and in Wales to complete a double over the Bluebirds. Newcastle have also got a good record when travelling to Wales. Whilst the two have been in different divisions over the years, the Geordies last tasted defeat in Cardiff back in 1981.
As for their recent games, Warnock’s men fell to a 2-0 defeat at Bournemouth on the opening day which was a thoroughly deserved result as they were second best for large periods. Meanwhile, Newcastle fell to a 2-1 defeat at home to Spurs to ensure both of these sides head into the game looking for their first points of the campaign.
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Players to watch: Bobby Reid & Jonjo Shelvey
Cardiff’s big money signing this summer, Bobby Reid, was a small transfer in the grand scheme of things, however he is the man that Warnock will expect big things from. The 25-year old was outstanding for Bristol City in the Championship last season and also impressed in the Carabao Cup against the Manchester sides. But, it’s a big step up and he will be keen to repay his price tag and get off the mark. He boasts good pace, has clever movement and will be a threat for the hosts.
For the visitors, Shelvey will be the key man. He is set for a very hostile reception having played for Swansea, whilst he also made gestures to the Bluebirds fans that didn’t go down well. However, if he can concentrate on his game, he could make the difference. The former Liverpool man is technically superb and will be the one to control the tempo and be the creative outlet for Newcastle. Cardiff will try to rattle him but there’s no doubt he has the quality to ensure his side get all three points if he is on form.