Cardiff City came away from yet another home fixture last night with a solitary point following a 0-0 draw with Aston Villa. Since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over in early January, the form of the Welsh club has been indifferent at best with defeats coming at Manchester United and fierce rivals Swansea whilst there have been positive results at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Yesterday evening, for the first half, Cardiff City outplayed the visitors with Wilfried Zaha and Craig Noone proving a handful on either flank whilst Fraizer Campbell looked to force the Villa backline further back with great work off the ball. Despite significant pressure, the goal never came, and this is becoming an increasingly worrying trend for Solskjaer’s Cardiff as it was back in the 2010-2011 campaign where Blackpool faltered after a good opening six months, which saw them relegated back into the Championship after just one season.
There are far more similarities between Cardiff currently and the 2010-2011 Blackpool side led by Ian Holloway than I expect supporters would care to admit, through fear of relegation or even jinxing the club ahead of the final months of the campaign. Both teams attempt to play soccer in a positive, attacking manner. It was often seen that Blackpool could be rip-roaringly exciting going forward but embarrassingly slack at the back during their most recent spell in England’s top flight and I am starting to see that with Cardiff.
Solskjaer has implemented an impressive change to the team dynamic in that ball retention is imperative. Gary Medel slots into the holding midfield role and is integral to Cardiff’s ball retention within their own half and the Chilean is entrusted with the task of manoeuvring the ball to the wider areas in the hope of sparking an attacking move. Cardiff, when in possession, are exciting to watch with Zaha’s unpredictability on the left coupled with Craig Noone’s streamlined incisiveness proving to be a nightmare for defenders. However the final bit of craft or even in some cases luck in the final third is not forthcoming.
Kenwyne Jones has talent, and a physical prowess to boot but he has never been a prolific Premier League goalscorer who will put away his first chance. And in a team fighting relegation, that chance can possibly be the only chance of a match. Meanwhile, Campbell works incredibly hard off the ball but as a result is seldom in good goalscoring positions as he pressures the defenders into mistakes. This is very reminiscent of Blackpool’s struggles in the second half of the 2010-2011 season and in the end it is goals that keep you in the division.