Cardiff City Stadium: Saturday, October 5th, 10:00EST
As Round 7 of the Premier League approaches on Saturday, one of the more intriguing matchups will be outside of England in South Wales. Cardiff City host Newcastle United at the Cardiff City Stadium in what can only be described as a game between two teams searching for identity early in this Premier League season.
Newcastle makes the long journey to Cardiff having dropped six straight points despite scoring two goals per game. The Magpies are not lacking in attack as Loïc Remy has scored three of the four goals in the past two contests. The previous three games have seen Newcastle score six goals, which is in stark contrast to their first three matches in which they only managed a single goal from Hatem Ben Arfa in a 1-0 win against Fulham. Alan Pardew’s men are playing with just as much inconsistency defensively. They have given up eleven goals in six fixtures. Surprisingly, this includes two clean sheets. Questions about which Newcastle defense will make the trip to Cardiff could possibly determine the outcome.
Cardiff, on the other hand, is coming off a run of form that has been seen as consistent over the past five games. After dropping a rough fixture against West Ham at Upton Park 2-0, Malky Mackay has gotten his team back to playing the style Mackay implemented at Cardiff in the Championship the previous two seasons. The Bluebirds have played each of the previous five games with great discipline in their shape and have been led by strong efforts defensively from Ben Turner and Steven Caulker. Cardiff has been largely inconsistent in attack as through the first five games they managed only 41 total chances and only 10 of those were on goal. That was a Premier League low. However, against Fulham, Cardiff seemed to find their stride with Odemwingie and Whittingham having strong performances and Theopile-Catherine and Taylor getting up the wings to add to the attack.
The biggest questions entering this match revolve around the Cardiff attack and the Newcastle defense. If Cardiff presses forward like they did at Fulham, Newcastle could be in for a long day. A particular concern for Newcastle will be Peter Whittingham and Cardiff set pieces. Cardiff has scored three of their five goals from corner kicks and their size and aerial ability has been impressive. However, if Newcastle can keep their shape defensively and not give up set pieces, they can turn to their attack to give them a real chance at three points in the fortress that is Cardiff City Stadium.
Prediction: Given the foothold Cardiff have found with Odemwingie and their strength in defense, Newcastle will be forced to improve their finishing on set pieces if they hope to come away with points. Cardiff will press high from the opening whistle and force Newcastle’s back line to play under pressure. Cardiff should come away with the three points easily at home, 3-1.
Cardiff City – Marshall, Taylor, Turner, Caulker, Theopile-Catherine, Medel, Whittingham, Kim, Gunnarsson, Odemwingie, Campbell
Newcastle United – Krul, Coloccini, Santon, Yanga-Mbiwa, Debuchy, Sissoko, Anita, Ben Arfa, Gouffran, Tioté, Remy