Can Cardiff now push on from a vital win against Huddersfield as they enter a defining month of the season?
Neil Warnock signalled out goal scoring as a major area for improvement, and last Saturday City responded resoundingly. On the face of it achieving only 29% possession at home could be cause for concern, but with 10 goal attempts each, Cardiff proved the age-old adage that possession doesn’t win games as they put 3 past Huddersfield to keep the pressure on the sides above them.
Under the influence of former Borussia Dortmund coach David Wagner, Huddersfield are a side known for dominating possession and that was evident at the weekend. Sean Morrison once again proved the vital outlet for goals he brings from the back as he and Hoilett put the bluebirds two up in twenty minutes. Youngster Tommy Smith brought one back for the Terriers before Lambert sent the Cardiff City Stadium in shock going in 3-1 at half-time.
The visitors dominated in the second half and pulled one back but it was not enough as Cardiff scraped through with three points. In a league as tumultuous as the championship it seems David Wagner still has a lot to learn, echoed in Sol Bamba’s post game comments “That`s what the Championship is all about. We are happy to put our bodies on the line for the club, at times our football could be a bit better but that will come.”
So can Cardiff now push on? Personnel will play a key role in this as Warnock knows, he’s identified three targets for January he believes can get Cardiff up the table. He was quoted as saying that Financial Fair Play is a barrier in this mission. With Bruno Ecuele Manga seemingly on his way out, as the club’s reported highest earner, this would pave the way for hungrier talent that could add a different dynamic to the squad.
One name signalled out has been Bristol Rovers striker Matty Taylor, who could add that much needed pace up top, an option that Warnock doesn’t look to have currently.
The gaffer has also opened the door for an Emyr Huws loan exit, praising the role of Gunnarrson and Ralls for the lack of opportunities for Huws. The last two games Cardiff have created much more chances, but if aspirations of the top half are to be reached, a few players are needed, including an established Championship name.
Before that Cardiff face Aston Villa on Saturday and will welcome back former fan favourites Rudy Gestede and Ross Mccormack – who cost £12 million in the summer.
The Villians, fresh from a torrid Premier League campaign, had a similar start to Cardiff, sacking Roberto Di Matteo after 12 games. Since then championship veteran Steve Bruce – with two promotions in four years – has yet to lose a game, unbeaten in 6 games and off the back of a draw with second-placed Brighton.
Cardiff travel to Villa Park five places below their opponents on Saturday and face a side who are in form. Another big money signing; Jonathan Kodija is keeping Mccormack and Gestede out of the side scoring six so far this season. Jack Grealish impressed at Brighton and looks likely to start alongside former Palace man Mile Jedinak who is becoming a fan favourite in Aston. Wales Euro’s star James Chester will captain the side and sit at the heart of the defence.
Craig Noone is another name that could well face the exit come January unless big performances come between now and then, in which he should be given a chance tomorrow. Lambert is likely to lead the line again in a 4-2-3-1 against a Villa side that will be difficult to break down. City would do well for a draw here in a big period for Warnock.