Championship Preview: Cardiff city v luton town

Cardiff City will host Luton Town this weekend at Cardiff City Stadium. The Bluebirds come in to this match on a poor run of form that has seen them win one in eight. Luton are unbeaten in four but have drawn the last three matches.

Last season saw City win both league meetings between the sides. A 2-1 win with a 96th minute winner from Isaac Vassell, and a 1-0 win from a Lee Tomlin goal. The two side also met in the EFL Cup with Luton running out 3-0 winners.

Besides last season meetings the side have remain apart since 2007 when they played out a goalless draw at Kenilworth Road. Overall Luton lead the head to head with 23 wins. Cardiff have 20 wins and there have been 17 draws.

Recent Form

Cardiff have gone behind in all but four of their games this season. Poor errors and slow start meaning they often have to work just to salvage a point. Many Cardiff fans have been calling for Harris to be replaced after Cardiff’s poor start. Cardiff are 18th, just five points from the relegation zone.

Luton, meanwhile, are looking up and currently sit 11th four points from the play-off places. With five wins so far of which three have been away from home. Their last three have seen them draw, twice leading games and conceding.

Team News

Cardiff will be without both Lee Tomlin and Jordi Osei-Tutu both still some weeks from being available. Greg Cunningham has been training , but might not be ready for a return to the match day squad yet.

Brendan Galloway will also not be in the match squad for the trip to Cardiff. Dan Potts will be unlikely to feature.

Managers Thoughts

Cardiff manager Neil Harris spoke at his pre-match press conference on the pressure building after his sides poor start:

Yeah, ultimately, Vincent [Tan], Mehmet [Dalman], Ken [Choo], Steve Borley, they are the ones who count. Everyone is entitled to an opinion in modern society, I get that, but, to me, what matters is what we build in-house, within our changing room. But also what the thought process is of above.

I spoke to the board, they want success. Mehmet spoke a couple of months ago about January, being in the top six and wanting to challenge and that’s a realistic expectation for us. That’s my job to deliver that.

I understand that and a football manager needs to win football matches.

I love my job, I really, really enjoy working with the group. But you have to get results as a manager.

I think this is a big period for me, the club and the group, the next couple of games. I put expectations on my own shoulders and I need players my to deliver and I need to get big calls right.

With a big game coming this weekend, would there be chances for this Cardiff Side, Harris continued:

I think we have tried to change the way we’ve played and approach games, the style of play. The majority of it has been really good. The two penalty areas have been the problem. We’ve not scored enough, we’ve conceded the first goal too often. When we have conceded the first goal it’s because we have made errors.

I’ve asked players to adapt their play. I may have to be a little more pragmatic in my approach to some players. We have to find a way of putting teams under more pressure. I have to consider personnel, style of play, formation, all those things considered from a Wednesday to a Saturday.

Luton Manager Nathan Jones spoke about the upcoming game to Luton Website:

“There’s never a good time to play Cardiff, especially away, because they’re a tough side to play. They have got experienced Championship players, a lot with Premier League experience so it’s a tough, tough game.

“Not sure it’s a good time, bad time or anything to play them. It’s a Championship game and the Championship is never an easy ride in anyway shape or form.

When asked about his opposite number Jones said:

“Neil Harris did a wonderful job last year, got them in the play-offs. The Championship is one of those things, someone told me once that you don’t have to do a hell of a lot different in the Championship to go four unbeaten or to get four or five defeats on the spin because it is that type of league.

“Neil is experienced, they are not in a precarious position in anyway shape or form, far more teams in precarious positions, plus he brought himself a little bit of leeway because he has done fantastic work there.”

Jones wants his side to “impact” and start to out their stamp on the Championship:

“We don’t just want to get results. Now we want to impact and to start putting our stamp on the Championship.

“That’s a bold, bold statement and others may listen to that and think, ‘What are they on about? These should be down the bottom’.

“But it’s about what we want to do. We don’t care about anything else. We don’t look outside of the four walls we have here, outside Bedfordshire, for example. We want to evolve into what we want to evolve into, and that’s constant work

“We’ll have to take some punches on the chin and punches on the nose, but we’re going to ride them and come back stronger and stronger because we’ve had a good bit of experience at the level. But, now, we want to have more than experience.”

Key Players

For Cardiff they could have lost Wednesday game by more goals. They had goalkeeper Alex Smithies to thank for it. Smithies has been excellent since breaking into the team last season. If Smithies can keep City in the game than they do have the quality, if not the form to hurt teams.

For Luton its Welsh international Rhys Norrington-Davies. With Cardiff’s lack of a proper right back its an area Luton could exploit. Norrington-Davies can get forward and help in attack and playing down Cardiff’s right could give them great opportunities to get the ball into the box.

Prediction; 1-1

Luton will take the lead by capitalising on Cardiff’s typical slow starts to matches, but the Bluebirds should be able to get a draw.

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