Neil Warnock returns to Cardiff for the first time since leaving the Welsh club. He’ll bring his Middlesbrough side to face the club he took to the Premier League in 2018. Warnock faced the Bluebirds at the end of last season with Cardiff winning 3-1 at the Riverside.
Middlesbrough are unbeaten in five matches since their opening day loss to Watford. Their last match saw them win away at Bristol City. Cardiff trail Boro by a point and will be looking for their first win at Cardiff City Stadium.
Cardiff have won the last four meetings between the sides. Although, history suggests that this game could go either way. Over the last 14 games the sides have managed seven wins apiece. This should be a close encounter as 10 of theses games have been decided by a single goal. With both managers setting their teams up to be hard to beat, this is unlikely to be an exception.
Neil Harris confirmed in his press conference that left back Greg Cunningham will be out for four to six weeks. Cunningham went off injured in last Saturday’s win at Preston.
On his other injured players, Harris said:
“The other three are edging closer. Jordi (Osei-Tutu) and Benno (Joe Bennett) have been on the grass today. We could have the possibility of one, both or neither available.
“Tommo (Lee Tomlin) is getting closer but not for tomorrow”.
Middlesbrough are meanwhile likely to be without Britt Assombalonga.
Speaking at his press conference, Warnock said:
“From yesterday I don’t think he’s got much of a chance but we’ll see this afternoon.
“Its just a nick on the adductor on the side of the groin and it just didn’t feel right”.
They are also still without last seasons top scorer, Ashley Fletcher who is ruled out until January with a hamstring injury.
The Managers Thoughts
Both managers spoke about the heavy schedule of upcoming fixtures. Championship games are coming thick and fast after the late start to this season.
Neil Warnock called the EFL to discuss the fixture scheduling. After the trip to Bristol City on Tuesday, they travel to Cardiff for this weekends game.
At his press conference on Monday, Warnock gave details of his call to the EFL, he said:
” It was just how it fell, they did look at it but there was nothing they could do about it”.
“We’ll be traveling back to Teeside after the Bristol game and then back to Cardiff on Friday.
“It means we can’t do much training for games. We’re traveling most of the time”.
Neil Harris also had this to say:
“We played on the Sunday against Preston and Bristol on a Friday. It becomes seven games in nineteen days for us. It is what it is but its a bit unfair and it’s wrong. We have to be creative to be as fresh as we can to get results”.
For Cardiff, new signing Harry Wilson will be the creative key to unlock Middlesbrough’s defence. Wilson got his first goal for Cardiff in Wednesday draw with Bournemouth. He also hit the bar form a free kick and on another night could have taken the match ball home.
Akpom Chuba has two goals this season and with Middlesbrough injuries they will be looking for him to add to his tally. George Saville, who scored the winner by pressing the Bristol City defence, is another player who could cause Cardiff problems.
Prediction: Cardiff 1-0 Middlesbrough
History suggests a close game, but Cardiff should have the edge creatively. Warnock will set his side out to be hard to beat and hit the Bluebirds on the break. So the Welsh side will have to find a way to unlock a determined team and I think they will do just that.