The FourFourTwo Preview: Cardiff vs Man City
Plucky Premier League debutants against revitalised title challengers.
The Welsh capital prepares to welcome Premier League football for the first time, and in home openers they do not come much tougher than against the 2011/12 champions. Malky Mackay has spent big over the summer, splashing more than £26 million on the likes of Steven Caulker, Gary Medel and Andreas Cornelilus in an attempt to prevent an immediate return to the second tier.
The Bluebirds' first top-flight test since 1962 ended in disappointment on the opening day at West Ham but, backed by a boisterous home support, they will be looking to carry over their solid home form from last season. Cardiff picked up more Championship points in their own back yard than anyone else in 2012/13, winning 15 times and losing just twice.
Manuel Pellegrini's side have also been active in the transfer market this summer, signing Alvaro Negredo, Stevan Jovetic, Jesus Navas and Fernandinho for a combined £67 million. After impressing many with their swashbuckling display against Newcastle on Monday, City will also be intent on making a statement on their travels. The Blues had only the fifth best away record last term, winning nine of their 19 trips .
Andrew Taylor is expected to replace teenage left-back Declan John for the home side after serving a suspension, while £1.3 million signing from Derby - John Brayford - could feature ahead of defender Matt Connolly. Denmark striker Cornelius should be ready to face City after missing the defeat at Upton Park due to an ankle problem.
The visitors will be without influential captain Vincent Kompany, who limped out of the win over Newcastle with a groin injury. Fellow defender Micah Richards (hamstring) is out, but Matija Nastasic has returned to training after missing a month due to an ankle complaint. Pellegrini may therefore be forced to pair Joleon Lescott with defensive midfielder Javi Garcia at the heart of his defence.
Player to watch: Edin Dzeko (Manchester City)
The Bosnian striker appeared destined for the exit door this summer following a stagnant campaign under Roberto Mancini that produced just two goals between February and May. But Dzeko is reinvigorated and collected the man of the match award on Monday against Newcastle. The 27-year-old did everything but score, registering eight attempts on goal, four on target. Yet it was his overall performance that gained many admirers, dropping deeper to help instigate attacks.
A first meeting between two popular bosses both still settling in to Premier League life. Malky Mackay is not daunted by the proposition of taking on star-studded Man City, but knows his men must be more productive in the final third than they were at Upton Park: "We had plenty of possession but no penetration. In the second half we grew into the game. We had one really good chance."
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Cardiff 1-0 Man City (FAC, Jan 94)
- Man City 2-2 Cardiff (Div 2, Mar 85)
- Cardiff 0-3 Man City (Div 2, Sep 84)
- Man City 2-1 Cardiff (Div 2, Mar 84)
- Cardiff 2-1 Man City (Div 2, Aug 83)
Facts and figures
- Cardiff City won more points at home than any other Championship side in 2012/13 (51).
- Manchester City have kept a clean sheet in 12 of their 19 Premier League games so far in 2013.
- This will be the clubs' first league meeting since a second-tier clash in March 1985.
- Craig Bellamy is looking to become the first man to score for seven different Premier League clubs.
- Edin Dzeko's total of eight shots against Newcastle was more than he managed in any league game last season.
- Just 12 of Sergio Aguero's 36 Premier League goals have come away from home.
- Aguero has scored six in his 14 league appearances during 2013, but hasn't netted in consecutive games this calendar year.
- Cardiff have lost just one of their last 12 home league matches (W5 D6).
- In their opening league game at West Ham, Cardiff mustered just one shot on target.
- Last season Manchester City won just one of their three trips to promoted sides, losing 3-1 at Southampton and drawing 0-0 at West Ham.
The visitors' attacking prowess to prove the difference: 0-2.