After a disappointing defeat and performance against Bradford on Saturday, Coventry City for the fourth season running must now pick themselves up from an opening day defeat. The concern now is that with difficult league fixtures ahead against Sheffield United, Barnsley, Milton Keynes, Swindon and Preston, it could be a while before an embryonic Sky Blues team manages to put points on the board.
First thing’s first though, Cardiff City are the team’s next opponents in this year’s League Cup first round. On the face of it, it seems that the fixture will act as a glorified friendly match in which both managers will be looking to see what their fringe players are capable of. With the above mentioned difficult fixtures in the league ahead for the club, it would be a massive boost in confidence for the team if we could pull off an upset this evening.
It is expected that Steven Pressley will be pick close to full-strength team but will hand Lee Burge a long-awaited debut for the club. Elsewhere there are doubts over two of the better performers from Valley Parade in Jim O’Brien and Reda Johnson who appear to be suffering with minor injuries, they could both be rested. With John Fleck being widely reported to have been dropped from Saturday’s starting line-up due to a lack of fitness, only to star from the bench, it will be interesting whether our manager rewards the Scot for his cameo performance with a start tonight.
It will be another tough decision for Pressley whether to keep faith in the 3-5-2 system that was awkwardly executed at the weekend or to revert to the 4-4-2 which served the team so well for most of last season. Should our manager stick with the formation from the opening game, then he might want to experiment by shifting the positioning of various personnel, such as moving Conor Thomas further up the pitch or playing Jordan Clarke in central defence as a ball-player.
Possible Line-Up (5-3-2): Burge; Phillips, Clarke, Webster, Willis, Pugh; Thomas, Swanson, Daniels; Tudgay, McQuoid.
Last Time We Met
For most of my life Coventry City have either been in a higher division than Cardiff City or at least in the same one. Recent years have changed that with the controversial figure of Vincent Tan taking the team formerly known as the Bluebirds into the top flight in exchange for their soul.
The last time the two CCFCs played each other was back in our relegation season from the Championship when Olly Norwood scored a late goal in Cardiff to earn a 2-2 draw which was the club’s fourth draw in a row. Andy Thorn’s Coventry City side then won the next two games and drew at home to Peterborough only to lose against Bristol City and then meekly surrender for the remaining fixtures as the club suffered a relegation that had been long in coming.
How Are They Doing?
Cardiff drew their opening game of the season against Blackburn last Friday despite taking the lead via a Kenwyne Jones goal. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under pressure to get Cardiff City promoted at the first time of asking following a poor attempt to keep them afloat in the Premier League last season.
The dominant theme in Cardiff’s transfer business this summer has been the signing of strikers. Solskjaer has added three talented strikers for Championship football in Adam le Fondre, Federico Macheda and Javi Guerra who scored 15 goals in La Liga last season. That adds to Nicky Maynard, Kenwyne Jones and Etien Velikonja who are already at the club.
Friday night’s game saw Solskjaer somewhat unsuccessfully tried to shoehorn in three of his strikers into a 4-4-2 formation, sticking Adam le Fondre on the right of midfield as some kind of tribute to Chris Coleman. The Norwegian might be using this fixture to try and figure out the right balance.
Cardiff are expected to make wholesale changes for tonight’s match, however their considerable squad depth will make this far from a weakened line-up. Several players with top-flight experience will still be included in a tough looking Cardiff City starting 11.
In defence the stand-out name is Kevin Theophile-Catherine who is a very solid defensive right-back who is also capable of supporting attacks adeptly.
Cardiff’s ‘second choice’ midfield looks particularly strong. Kagisho Dikgacoi and Tom Adeyemi could be a forceful pairing in front of Cardiff’s defence. The attacking midfield options of Guido Burgstaller, Magnus Wolff Eikrem and Kim Bo-Kyung offer genuine top flight quality. Feeding off that quality service in midfield looks to be Javi Guerra, an extremely talented finisher whilst at Real Valladolid, he could present a real nightmare for a defence that is still learning how to operate as a back three.
Possible Line-Up (4-2-3-1): Moore; Theophile-Catherine, Connolly, Oshilaja, John; Dikgacoi, Adeyemi; Burgstaller, Eikrem, Kim; Guerra.
Even a second strength Cardiff City side looks far too strong to our current first eleven. However strange things do happen in these early League Cup fixtures, Cardiff City may be focusing more on the league and we could catch them out with a determined display. A good performance this evening seems important in building the team’s confidence ahead of a tough looking next five league fixtures.
All in all though it’s tough to rationally view the two teams and see anything other than a Cardiff City win. I’m going for a 2-0 defeat.
If you didn’t already know, tonight’s game will include a co-protest against the owners of the two CCFCs organised by the Sky Blue Trust, for more information read here.