Cardiff v Fulham: Bluebirds can keep Cottagers at bay

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CHAMPIONSHIP specialist James O'Rourke (@JamesOR1) shares his thoughts on Friday night's fixture between recently-relegated pair Cardiff and Fulham.

Cardiff v Fulham | Friday 30th August 2019, 19:45 | Sky Sports

It what was a Premier League fixture last season, Cardiff and Fulham try again this time around in the Championship after both suffered relegation. In the two meetings in the previous campaign, it was one home win each.

Cardiff have endured some away day struggles this term, but remain unbeaten on home soil, whilst Fulham are aiming to bounce back after a home loss to Nottingham Forest last weekend.

Cardiff home comforts

As touched upon, Cardiff have looked more than competitive in their home matches, but on the road they’ve been a little leaky, that was until the 0-0 draw at Blackburn last Saturday.

Neil Warnock probably looked to revert to type in terms of being hard to beat and giving very little away. It was a point gained in that regard, even if it was a scrappy contest on the whole. They’ll therefore be eager to get three points under their belts at the Cardiff City Stadium, especially against one of the fancied sides.

You just know Warnock will have his side fired up for this one.

Even last season Cardiff recorded notable home victories over the likes of Wolves, West Ham and Bournemouth. Their home form was not why they were relegated. Over the years it has always been a tough place to go, even more so under the lights.

Cardiff started the campaign with two home wins from two, and you just wonder if the Reading setback a few weeks ago could be a turning point for them. Warnock was very critical of his side afterwards, and rightly so. They were outplayed in all departments, but they’ve responded well since then. They could just be starting to build a bit of momentum.

Fulham defensive lapses

Scott Parker’s team were starting to look quite menacing in recent weeks after racking up three Championship victories in succession. Some of the football they produced in the Millwall game especially was something to behold. However, they’re proving a little bit of a soft touch defensively at times.

Nottingham Forest did not create that many opportunities, yet still managed to score twice thanks to Lewis Grabban. Individual errors have been costing them and for all they fired over 20 shots on goal in that clash, their Expected Goals count would not have been that high, with many coming from distance.

Parker himself acknowledges that he wants his side to play a certain way, and certain errors will creep into their play. The issue comes when these lead to goals being conceded. They were seriously knocking on the door versus Forest and conceded the second at the worst possible moment.

After a defeat, you do wonder if Cardiff could feel the Fulham backlash, and there is every chance that’ll happen. However, the ferocious atmosphere and just the nature of this game suggests it could be a tough night for the Craven Cottage club. They’ll never give up, so a late goal can’t be ruled out, but I do have reservations about them defensively.

Tactical battle awaits

Cardiff will certainly be second best in possession in this tie and will be quite happy to play on the break. They’ll therefore have watched the Fulham versus Nottingham Forest tape quite closely, and Warnock will no doubt believe his side can get something from this.

Fulham will just create chances given the quality at their disposal, and they will not give up. They’re averaging 15 shots per game in the league; one of the highest in the division. Cardiff are actually higher with 16.4, and that number increases to 20.5 when focusing purely on their home league encounters.

This will ultimately be a battle of styles, but there are strengths and weaknesses within each setup for me to believe there could and should be a few goals in this one.

I fancy Fulham might struggle to break Cardiff down at times however, whilst I am not convinced defensively by the Cottagers either. They are an attack-minded team, and the balance can shift in one way and leave them a little light defensively. Whilst they have 2/5 clean sheets so far, there is some luck attached to that fact.

The betting angle

Cardiff Double Chance and Both Teams To Score will be our play on this occasion at 13/10 (Bet365). Fulham are the favourites, which is understandable, but they will not have it all their own way away from home.

Cardiff will look to make this a real battle, which will suit them nicely, and Fulham will have to demonstrate a few different sides to their game besides the nice and tidy passing approach.

Best Bets

Cardiff v Fulham – Cardiff Double Chance and Both Teams To Score (13/10 Bet365)

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