Huddersfield vs Cardiff | Friday 5th March 2021, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Your Friday night viewing from the Championship comes from the John Smith’s Stadium and it presents two teams at differing ends of the form guide. An out-of-sorts Huddersfield entertain a seemingly unstoppable force in the form of Cardiff, who are currently enjoying a 10-match unbeaten run under the guidance of Mick McCarthy.
Looking across the season, there are a few statistics which stand out and are worthy of consideration when you’re making your betting selections prior to this contest. These don’t necessarily make great reading for Friday’s home team, as Huddersfield only possess a 50-50 win and draw/loss record when opening the scoring in a league match this season.
They’re therefore averaging the fewest points per game average in the league when scoring first. They’ve also lost 10 of 14 when conceding first, too, which suggests that Carlos Corberan’s outfit struggle with game management.
We compare that to Cardiff, and this includes not just under McCarthy but his Neil Harris as well, and the Bluebirds have won an incredible 14 of 16 when finding the back of the net before the opposition. Seven of those victories would come away from home.
However, it is worth noting that Cardiff’s away games under the management of McCarthy have all been close and tight affairs. Whilst remaining unbeaten, those away scores read 1-1, 1-2, 0-2, 1-2, 0-2 and 2-2, so Huddersfield are not without hope.
McCarthy has implemented a 3-4-1-2 system which has proved something of a masterstroke, as is bringing Aden Flint back in from the cold to form the third central defensive partner to stalwarts Sean Morrison and Curtis Nelson. Three clean sheets in their last five further highlights how tough they’ve been to break down, and they’ve maintained this unbeaten record despite largely being second-best in the possession category.
In beating Derby 4-0 on Tuesday, Cardiff achieved only 27% of the ball, and that is despite being the home team. Don’t be surprised to see a similar figure in Friday’s game, especially with Corberan’s men playing a possession-based game. In fact, in Cardiff’s last eight only once have they had over 40% possession. They have found a way of playing which works perfectly for them, and Huddersfield may have issues breaking them down.
That being said, Huddersfield only recently faced another Welsh side that plays a very similar formation in the form of Swansea City and recorded a fine 4-1 home win. However, the Terriers backed up that excellent outcome with back-to-back defeats without scoring against Derby and Preston, whilst on Tuesday they could only draw 1-1 at home to struggling Birmingham, where once again they opened the scoring and failed to win.
Still, Huddersfield are normally good for a goal as only twice in Championship action this season have they failed to score in a home match. On the flip side, it is just one win in their last seven here in all competitions, which was that Swansea triumph, so they need to get their act together once more if they’re to avoid sliding further towards the relegation places.
Absolutely everything points to a Cardiff win here, and I wouldn’t necessarily put you off backing that, especially with Cardiff being priced odds-against. However, maybe it is just me, but I’m always wary of backing sides like Cardiff the longer their unbeaten run goes on and inevitably it’ll come to an end at some point and normally in a match when you least expect it.
Plus, it is normally a league like the Championship when it bites you the hardest, so I personally won’t be touching the 1×2 market.
I do however like the look of the prices of two defenders, one on either side, to find the back of the net. I am quite keen on Sean Morrison Anytime Scorer at 8/1 (Betway), especially as he is ranked fourth in the team for shots on goal, meaning he is clearly a target on set piece situations.
The defensive powerhouse is also part of a Cardiff side which is way, way, way ahead in first place in terms of goals from set pieces in the Championship with 22. The fact Reading in second have scored 13 by these routes just proves Cardiff’s effectiveness at dead-ball situations. With Huddersfield vulnerable on set pieces (ranked third-worst for goals conceded) I think this is a no-brainer at the price.
Secondly, I think a tentative play on Pipa Anytime Scorer at 14/1 (William Hill) isn’t a bad shout either. The Spaniard isn’t necessarily a prolific goalscorer as he only has two goals this season, but he is ranked joint-fourth in the team numbers for shots on goal. That may surprise some, but not when you think about it.
Corberan loves his full backs to get up the pitch, so the continued absence of usual left back Harry Toffolo is a massive blow. Huddersfield are quite patient in and around the final third and won’t necessarily just sling balls into the box, which would suit Cardiff anyway, so expect plenty of shots from outside the box.
This is where Pipa comes in, who is ranked third in the team for shots from distance. At the prices, this is worthy a nibble. Whilst he did play on the left side last time out, I’m expecting him to return back to his usual right back/wing back spot to offer more balance to the team.
Finally, I think the 5/1 (Bet365) on offer for in-form Cardiff frontman Kieffer Moore To Be Shown A Card has to be a play. I’m a little surprised to see him priced as one of the bigger prices of the outfield players likely to start this match.
The former Barnsley man has committed the most number of fouls in the Cardiff squad, and he does already have four bookings to his name. The Bluebirds won’t play from the back and so expect plenty of direct balls in the direction of the Welshman. All it takes is a flailing arm on a few occasions and he’ll be in the book. He should be shorter than 5/1, no doubt.
Huddersfield v Cardiff – Sean Morrison Anytime Scorer (8/1 Betway)
Huddersfield v Cardiff – Pipa Anytime Scorer (14/1 William Hill)
Huddersfield v Cardiff – Kieffer Moore To Be Shown A Card (5/1 Bet365)