IN THE battle of the blues at Stamford Bridge, the gulf in class was apparent in Cardiff City’s 1-4 loss to Chelsea. And this time, Filipino goalkeeper Neil Etheridge couldn’t stop a late penalty from the Blues’ Eden Hazard, who finished the blowout with a hat trick.
The newly promoted Welsh side, which also goes with the moniker The Bluebirds, simply lost to a far better team, the Blues of London. The visitors were outgunned with 18 shots to six, could hardly latch on to the ball with a fourth of possession, and could only complete a pass half of the time.
The result meant Chelsea remain on top of the Premier League, while Cardiff slides to 17th, three rungs from the bottom. To make matters more difficult for The Bluebirds, they’ll have to host defending champions Manchester City, currently third on the table, this Sunday.
And yet there are signs that suggest Cardiff can pull off an upset. While the match statistics don’t lie and Chelsea’s dominance over Cardiff was beyond doubt, something revealing happened early in the match: to the London side’s horror, the minnows drew first blood when Sol Bamba scored in the 16th minute.
Cardiff has been struggling to score goals in the Prem, but to slot one against a title contender means more than just a confidence boost. Too bad Cardiff’s defense started leaking as soon as Chelsea shifted gears.
In response, Etheridge did make a good account of himself with top-class saves against some of the world’s best strikers, but he can only do so much against the relentless onslaught from a marquee team.
Warnock has a decent side, but against the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City, Cardiff’s biggest chance of scoring is from set plays. It had four corners against Chelsea (which had five), and Bamba nearly connected with a header in the 12th minute. His goal actually came off a set play from the middle third.
Prior to the collapse against Chelsea, Cardiff’s defense was relatively solid, conceding only five goals in four matches. Against Manchester City, manager Neil Warnock should now have the defensive adjustments in place.
A good performance against City won’t assure Cardiff’s survival, but it will make a good case that the team can avoid relegation. Warnock and his men just need to keep their eyes on the ball.
September 18, 2018
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