No-one can deny the impact that Craig Bellamy has had on Cardiff City this season. The man on loan from Manchester City has given the whole club a lift and helped them make an excellent start to this year’s Championship campaign.
Dave Jones’ men sit level on points with Queens Park Rangers at the top of the table ahead of this weekend’s game with 4th placed Norwich City.
To say that this is all down to Bellamy would be incorrect. Cardiff didn’t need too much of a lift to ignite their promotion push as they have been there or thereabouts for a while now. Bellamy is just the extra element to proceedings that gives them their best ever shot at reaching the Premier League.
Some may remember the impact Darren Huckerby had on Norwich’s promotion bid back in 2003/2004. The Canaries had a decent squad of honest, hard-working players – Huckerby provided the spark that led them to the title. Bellamy is similar. He lifts everyone in a squad that was pretty well equipped for success anyway.
Cardiff boss Jones was keen to stress how much of a team effort it is ahead of the weekend’s game and on the back of an excellent 4-0 victory at Elland Road. He said the Bluebirds are ‘certainly not a one man team’ and that ‘there are some good players besides Craig.’
This certainly is the case. Just look at that win against Leeds United most recently. Yes, Bellamy was influential, but it was Jay Boothroyd that stole the headlines with two goals that took his total to eleven in all competitions this season. The former Coventry City man has been in inspirational form this season and has made himself just as important to the side as Bellamy.
The talent doesn’t stop there either. Michael Chopra, Peter Whittingham and Chris Burke are all excellent players. You can certainly see why Jones’ men are up there and you would be a brave man to do anything other than back them in their promotion charge. To be honest, they look even stronger than QPR because you can see Cardiff getting better and better. After all, Bellamy has still got to hit goal scoring form yet!
All of this means that Cardiff go into tomorrow’s game with Norwich City as favourites to pick up three points. It won’t be easy for them though in what is the pick of the games for the Championship this weekend.
Under Paul Lambert, Norwich have performed above expectations this season and could go within three points of their hosts with a win on Saturday. This is testament to the start they have made.
Especially away from home, the Canaries have made themselves extremely hard to beat. The 0-0 draw at table topping QPR proved that. They would have won the game had not been for a Wes Hoolahan penalty miss too.
It isn’t just about being hard to beat for Norwich either. They have an in-form striker in Simeon Jackson, one of the most creative players in the league in Hoolahan and one the hardest strikers to play against in Grant Holt.
Further back, they have a hard-working midfield and a centre back pairing of Leon Barnett and Elliot Ward that has worked extremely well so far this season.
They will be up against their biggest challenge yet this weekend though as Bellamy and co look to run riot in front of their home fans.
The presence of Bellamy is a side plot to this game actually. He started his career at Norwich and is still held in high regard by their fans, so should receive a warm reception from them.
All in all, it should be a cracking contest between two good teams pushing for a win.
Prediction? An entertaining 2-2 draw.
Enjoy your weekend.