CHAMPIONSHIP specialist Ross Casey (@RossCasey24) shares his verdict from Friday evening’s top-of-the-table clash between Cardiff and Wolves.
Cardiff v Wolves | Friday 6th March 2018, 19:45 | Sky Sports
You can be forgiven for looking twice at the Championship odds, for this one in my opinion.
Cardiff are underdogs here despite being on an 11-match undefeated streak and winning each of their last seven on home soil. You can get 21/10 on a win for the Bluebirds with bet365, whilst Wolves are the favourites with a current best price of 8/5 with BetVictor.
As much as it pains me to say it (as a Bristol City fan), Neil Warnock has simply done an incredible job with this Cardiff side.
They were languishing in a relegation position when they sacked Paul Trollope and replaced him with Warnock last season – and the turnaround has been nothing short of sensational.
They are now five points in front of third placed Fulham at time of writing with a game in-hand and look on course for a second spell in the Premier League. Warnock has done this building a squad in his style, without qualms and apologising to no one for it. They are hard-working, direct, physical and very hard to beat.
It is very interesting to me, some of the stats collated by a side in second and a goal difference of plus 29. They only average 45.7% in their season possession stats in the Championship this season and have the ball in play less than any other side, thanks to their direct style of play and incessant use of turnovers, set-plays and long throws.
Cardiff managed to defeat Wolves in the reverse fixture at Molineux, a 2-1 victory way back in August. That match followed suit of how Cardiff play too – the Bluebirds had just 36% of the ball but conjured up five more shots than the home side, totalling 17 in total.
Quite how they are so dangerous, despite a lack of possession is still a bit of a mystery to me, but hey, it certainly works. Even last Friday, they played lowly Burton at home and only had 42% possession, but still bludgeoned them into submission with a 3-1 win.
That classic Warnock will to win and willingness to fight for every ball really helped them at Bramall Lane where they were pinned back for much of the game but still scored a late equaliser to gain a point that Warnock described their ‘best of the season’.
Wolves sit in first place in the Championship, but they are being pushed the whole way by Cardiff. If the Bluebirds win on Friday night and also their game in hand, they will only be top by goal difference.
Whilst Wolves have won four of their last five games, there is a bit of a concern about their away form for anyone backing them here. They have won just four of their last 10 on the road in all competitions, including a last gasp one over Bristol City and were destroyed 4-1 by Aston Villa in their second to last Championship away game.
Wolves have conceded in seven of their last 10 on the road too, conceding 13 in total, so keeping Cardiff – who are the third highest home scorers in the Championship – at bay may be a tough task.
A plus for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side is the return of both Ruben Neves and defender Matt Doherty, who were missing through suspension from Wolves’ disappointing 2-2 draw at home to Hull on Tuesday.
The betting angle
You have probably already gotten the impression that I think Cardiff are good value here. The Bluebirds are unbeaten in 11 and have won each of their last seven at the Cardiff City Stadium.
However, they are playing a Wolves side that are top of the league for a reason and have lost just one of their last six, so I will steer clear of an outright win and play safer with Cardiff draw no bet at a best price of 29/25 with Marathon.
Cardiff v Wolves – Cardiff draw no bet (29/25 Marathon)