Two of the in-form teams clash in the Championship this weekend as Cardiff welcome Watford to Welsh Capital. Cardiff are on an eleven game unbeaten run, while Watford have won six of their last seven.
The Bluebirds stunned Watford in December when 1,973 fans were allowed in Vicarage Road, winning 1-0 from a Kieffer Moore goal. Watford sit second in the table with eyes on automatic promotion. Cardiff have emerged as play-off contenders following an upturn in form.
Having won their last two home games against Derby and Preston both by four goals to nil, Cardiff City Stadium has been a happy hunting ground again for Cardiff. Another impressive 3-1 win against Coventry making it three straight home wins.
Watford lost their last game on the road 1-0 at Bournemouth. The Hornets, however, have picked up previous wins against Blackburn and Preston.
Lee Tomlin and Jordi Osei-Tutu will not be a part of this match squad for Cardiff but Perry Ng, who missed Cardiff’s trip to Huddersfield is possible for a return. Tom Sang came in for that game and performed well so could get another start. Joel Bagan suffered a dislocated shoulder will also miss out. With Joe Bennett out as well it means a possible start for Ciaran Brown.
Dan Gosling and Achfraf Lazaar will have fitness tests ahead of the trip to Cardiff. Troy Deeney and Tom Cleverley will both miss out with Cleverley possibly returning following the international break. Nathanial Chalobah is available after suspension.
Mick McCarthy was glad of an extra break this week having played on Friday last weekend.
“It’s been unusual actually but it’s been good for the players and for us as well because we had the weekend without a game.
“It was a real intense schedule, certainly as we ended up playing Wednesday-Saturday, Tuesday-Friday. It was good for them all to get a bit of a break and they’re all feeling a bit fresher and a bit sharper. Hopefully that will benefit us on Saturday.
“They are second in the table, playing well and have the ability to grind out one-nillers as they don’t give much away. Yet they’ve got some flair players too.
“So, if we can win this game, that would put us in a great position and give us a whole lot more confidence if we beat second in the league – but there’s a lot of ifs there!”
“We know we need to go there like gladiators, play very hard and give our best, with power, intensity and ambition.
“We know what we need, it’s not easy the numbers they have. It’s excellent work from their coach, we have big respect for him. It’s important everybody knows this next game is an amazing challenge for us because we want to break this situation for them.
“Our team now has more time on the ball, creates more chances to score. We know we need to stay alert and pay attention with set pieces and we need to give them more problems. We have our style and our players and we’re hungry every game to take the points”.
Prediction: Cardiff 1-0 Watford
This a game for Cardiff’s style of play. Having had an extra rest Cardiff’s attacking three should have the fresh legs for the high intensity press that has seen the Bluebirds rack up three home wins and score eleven goals.
Third placed Watford will host Cardiff City this Saturday in the Championship. The match will be played with supporters as Watford is in tier two allowing 2,000 fans to attend the game.
Watford come into this game on the back of a goalless draw at Nottingham Forest. The Hornets have only suffered one loss in their last eleven games. They are unbeaten at home this season taking 19 out of 21 points at Vicarage Road.
Cardiff have back to back home wins against Luton and Huddersfield but pioir to this had only one win in eight games. Cardiff are without an away win in four games drawing twice and losing twice.
The last meetings between the side came in the Premier League in 2018/19. Watford won both matches 5-1 at Cardiff and 3-2 at home. The Bluebirds, however, lead the overall head to head 22 wins to The Hornet’s 21, but Watford have won the last three meetings.
Watford will be without Nathaniel Chalobah who will miss the match though suspension, picking up a fifth yellow card in midweek. The 10 day isolation for the three players who had positive Covid-19 tests has ended. Adam Masina, Tom Cleverley and Will Hughes have been back in training. Tom Dele-Bashiru, Andre Gray and Isaac Success will all miss this match.
For Cardiff Jordi Osei-Tutu, Lee Tomlin and Isaac Vassell all remain unavailable. Filip Benkovic could return to the squad after an illness. Robert Glatzel came off the bench to score on Tuesday against Huddersfield could be in line to start ahead of Mark Harris.
Watford manager Vladimir Ivic spoke ahead of the game about the need to rotate his squad:
“We know that in this moment with a lot of games we need to rest some players, like you see with Craig [Cathcart] and his hamstring [injury late on against Nottingham Forest].
“We believe that in the next days some of the players will come to help us who have stayed out for different reasons – some of them being injured and some having COVID – so we will see what’s going to happen in the next days.”
Neil Harris spoke about playing in front of fans this weekend, despite Cardiff not being able to have fans back as Welsh Government rules are different to England:
“I’m not fussed if Watford fans are there or not. We are not going to see fans back in our stadium, we have spoken about that hindering us.
“It is what it is, the Welsh Government have made their decision.Watford fans, not fussed.
“Football as a whole needs supporters. I’m quietly pleased for teams that are getting supporters back, every sport needs them.But unfortunately we are not in that position to welcome our fans back.
“Does it have an effect? If anything it will spur my players on. It will have more of an away game feel about it.“
Speaking about his oppostion this weekend:
“Good players. A team that wasn’t expected to be relegated from the Premier League. They have got a massive squad, an embarrassment of riches, but it’s the Championship.
“The amount of teams clustering at the top, middle and bottom. People always question the ability in the Championship but it’s as good as ever.
“If you finish above Watford then you are going to finish in the top three, or maybe even top two.
“But I worry about getting us right and getting in the best possible condition to stop them and affect the game the other way, being proactive and aggressive.“
For Watford they will be looking for Ismaila Sarr to continue his good form so far this season. Sarr has picked up three goals and two assists, with a Whoscored rating of 7.1. The 22 year old forward also has 3 man of the match performances.
Cardiff will hope the form of Wales striker Kieffer Moore continues. Moore has seven goals for Cardiff and two for Wales this season. With a whoscored rating of 7.34 overall and 7.57 in the Championship. He has won over 10 aerials per game and Cardiff will look to play though the striker.
Prediction: Watford 1-1 Cardiff City
Watford are unbeaten at home and will have fans for the first time in a long time. The extra pressure could tell against a Cardiff team that have gained confidence with two wins in a row. Both teams have quality across the pitch and will be hard to break down.
Another round of Championships fixtures sees the top two lose, Derby drop to bottom and another five goal thriller for Watford. Blackburn, Forest and Rotherham all win at home, while Bournemouth pick up a good away win.
League Leaders Lose Again
Reading started brightly at the Madejski Andrew Yiadom cross from the right found Alfa Semedo, who headed straight at Angus Gunn in the stoke goal. Gunn was called into action again tipping another Semedo header over the bar.
It was Stoke who took the lead when Reading failed to clear and Tyrese Campbell slotted into the corner with a well taken shot. Stoke doubled their lead in the 35th minute. A poor ball from Reading keeper Rafael was headed back towards goal by Tom Smith, flicked on by Campbell into the box where Steven Fletcher tucked home. Fletcher beat The Royal’s offside trap for his fourth goal of the season.
Stoke almost had a third, Tyrese Campbell hitting the post with a curling right footed shot which had Rafael beaten. They did, however, get their third in added time. Lewis Gibson failed his attempted back pass, and left Jacob Brown with a one on one with the keeper. Brown rounded Rafael and put the ball into the empty net despite Gibson’s attempt to get back and clear.
Reading manager Veljko Paunovic said:
“This is a serious league in which mistakes – in both boxes – can kill you. There is a mix of immaturity in some moments and a mix of fatigue, accumulation of games and injuries that we are going through”.
Stoke manager Michael O’Neill told BBC Radio Stoke:
“We had to dig in at the start of the game but once we got ahead we looked capable of scoring again”.
Reading remain top despite three defeats in a row but their lead is down to one point. Stoke are now in eighth after three wins in five.
Swans Drop from Second
Swansea had the best chance of the first half at Carrow Road with Andre Ayew heading against the post from a Swansea corner. Jamal Lowe saw his shot pushed out for a corner from Tim Krul. Teems Pukki, meanwhile, found space in the visitors box but was tackled well by Conner Roberts before he could get a shot off.
Krul was once again in fine form again saving again from Lowe in the second half. Norwich then found the winning goal with six minutes to goal with Marco Stiepermann. Bali Mumba’s ball into the box was touched back to Stiepermann by Buendia for the German to fire home.
Another Five Goal Thriller
A second half thriller at Vicarage Road saw Watford beat Coventry 3-2.
The Hornets took the lead on 53 minutes, Andre Grey with the goal. A low ball across the City box ricocheted off a Coventry defender before hitting Grey to go in.
Coventry then scored two in two minutes to take the lead. The first from Gustavo Hamer, heading back towards goal after a Watford clearance, his head caught out Ben Foster going over the keeper to dip inside the crossbar. Just a minute later the Sky Blues lead Maxime Biamou heading a long ball onto Tyler Walker who stuck the ball first time low into the corner.
The lead, however, lasted just two minutes as William powered his header into the goal from James Garner’s corner.
Watford’s winner came in the 83rd minute, Ismaila Sarr scoring from the spot after Callum O’Hare handled in the box.
Rams Drop To Bottom
Derby are now bottom of the league after losing 2-0 by Barnsley at Pride Park. Derby had chances, Tom Lawrence forcing two saves from Jack Walton. It was disaster for Waltons opposite number as David Marshall’s loose pass went to Conor Chaplin who found the net.
Victor Adeboyejo confirmed the win for Barnsley with a well taken curling shot from outside the box. Barnsley’s victory ensured they bounced back from their defeat in Cardiff and make it three wins from four.
Derby first team coach Liam Rosenior said:
“This is a huge football club and we are not doing it justice. There’s no way the club should be in the position it’s in and I have to hold my hands up to that as well”.
Bristol Take Spoils From Severnside Derby
It was a smash and grab for Bristol City as they left Cardiff with three points in Friday’s Severnside derby.
Starting out quickly Bristol found themselves with an extra man on Cardiff’s left. Antoine Semenyo played a low ball into the Cardiff six yard box which was met by Chris Martin. Martin cut across Sean Morrison to tap home from close range.
With an early lead, Bristol were happy to let Cardiff control the game without ever really threatening Daniel Bentley’s goal. Back to back wins sees the Robins move into fifth place. Cardiff are 15th with just one win in five.
Bournemouth took a two nil first half lead at St Andrews with Arnaut Danjuma and David Brooks scoring. Brooks got his second five minutes after the break to make it three. Scott Hogan pulled a goal back for the Blues but they suffer a second straight home defeat. Bournemouth’s win now sees them fourth, just two points from leaders Reading.
After three without a win, Blackburn ended QPR’s winning run with a 3-1 win. Brereton scored on 50 minutes for Rovers before a penalty from Lyndon Dykes levelled the game.
Adam Armstrong put Rovers back into the lead on 73 minutes, before scoring his second in added time.
Blackburn manager Tony Mowbray praised Armstrong telling BBC Radio Lancashire:
“Adam has matured and his explosive pace allows you to play both ways and his dynamic movement has a devastating effect”.
Lyle Taylor’s brace helped Forest to a second straight home win as they beat Wycombe.
Taylor’s first came from a header at the far post from Cyrus Christie’s cross. Wycombe created some chances but were unable to really test the Forest keeper. A quick counter attack allowed Taylor to score his second and give Forest three points.
Elsewhere, Preston lost on the road for the first time this season. Rotherham lost their last two heading into this fixture but led after Richard Wood smashed home from close range. Ryan Ledson equalised for Preston after 80 minutes, his shot from the edge of the box flying through a crowd of players to nesle in the bottom corner. But it was Rotherham who took the points, Matt Crooks finishing after a good run from Matthew Olosunde.
Middlesbrough are proving hard to beat as they drew 0-0 at Brentford.
Neil Warnock’s side sit in seventh place after their sixth draw of the season.
Brentford had the lion’s share of possession but were unable to break Boro.
It was one way traffic at Hillsborough as Sheffield Wednesday produced seven attempts on goal to Millwall’s none.
Millwall, however, will be the happier side leaving with a point. George Moncur put Luton ahead against Huddersfield after 21 minutes. After 60 minutes Carel Eiting levelled for Huddersfield with a towering header into the Luton top corner. The point sees Huddersfield up to 13th while Luton drop to 10th.
Reading still lead the league heading into the international break, but Watford are breathing down their necks now in second. Norwich, Bournemouth, Bristol City and Swansea make up the play-off places. With just six points from sixth to 18th, nothing can be taken for granted this season.
Games are staring to come along quickly as the Championship rolls on. Readings good form continues as they lead the table. Bristol City remain second but there are just four points between them and 14th placed Huddersfield.
East Midlands Derby
Friday night saw the East Midlands derby between Nottingham Forest and Derby County. It was the 108th meeting of the long time rivals.
The two side were up for this game, Lyle Taylor shot forcing a good save from David Marshall. Marshall’s opposite number Brice Samba was also tested in the first half. Graeme Shinnies curling shot met by the diving hand of the Forest Keeper.
It was Derby who scored first after 30 minutes. Martyn Waghorn’s with a free kick the self-isolating Wayne Rooney would be proud to claim. Waghorn lifted the ball over wall and it clipped the inside of the bar to go in the net.
Derby thought they had won it when some clever footwork from Tom Lawrence allowed him to slide a ball into Jozwiak who found the net. Jozwiak wheeled off in celebration but the assistant’s flag was up. Waghorn in an offside position was deemed to be interfering with play.
Forest Manager Chris Hughton told BBC Radio Nottingham:
“I wasn’t too happy with the first half performance. I thought we needed to be better on the ball and our movement needed to be better against a team who were happy to defend in a really good shape”.
After seeing his side second goal ruled out Phillip Cocu told BBC Radio Derby:
“I don’t see any offside. The goalkeeper reaches for the corner where the shot goes, so the view is not blocked. The frustration is quite big here”.
Reading Go Five Clear
Championships leaders Reading won their sixth game of season clinically beating Rotherham 3-0. Reading took the lead towards the end of the first half though Yakou Meite.
The striker doubled the home side lead on 74 minutes, with an overhead kick. From a corner he control the ball with his chest before performing an overhead kick into the top corner of the net. A good win was finished in stoppage time with a Lucas Joao penalty.
Reading manager Veljko Paunovicsaid:
“What we saw in our team was the consistency of getting the job done, doing your job for the team. You also have to be patient, have a strong mentality and not get frustrated if our game plan is not working. And don’t ever give up”.
Rotherham drop to 18th place and manager Paul Warne told BBC Radio Sheffield:
“We were away from home against top of the league and had lots of possession in the first half and we were the only side that played on the front foot. We passed the ball really well without creating enough clear cut chances and obviously for them to score the first time they were in our box was a massive sucker punch”.
Mepham Saves a Point
Late drama as Chris Mepham’s 94th minute goal saved a point for Bournemouth. Watford had lead since the 12 minute from Stipe Perrica’s first goal for the club.
Bournemouth’s Lloyd Kelly was lucky to only see a yellow card for his poor challenge after just two minutes. Lunging in late on Ismaila Sarr catching the Watford player above the knee.
Watford’s goal came after Sarr’s ball across the box from the right was met a sliding Perrica who simply directed the ball into the net. Ismaila Sarr had the chance to make it too but his shot was stopped by a strong right hand from Asmir Begovic.
Begovic kept his in it again saving from Quina before quickly pushing the ball away from Pedro. Bournemouth pressed for an equaliser but found resilient Watford defencing and a in form Ben Forster.
Josh king saw his late header turned over the bar by Forster. However Bournemouth got their reward from the corner. Forster punched the ball away but the return ball in the box was turned in by Mepham.
The draw means Watford stay in 3rd and Bournemouth 4th.
There were away wins For Blackburn (4-0 v Coventry), Luton (1-0 v Sheffield Wednesday) and Preston (2-1 v Huddersfield) on Saturday.
Coventry were reduced to 10 men after 14 minutes with Michael Rose receiving a straight red for a push in the box. Adam Armstrong scored from the spot. Armstrong got a second after 49 minutes getting on the end of Brereton’s though ball. Harvey Elliott made it three on 62 minutes assisted again from Brereton. Rovers wrapped up a fine display with a fourth on 88 minutes from Sam Gallagher.
Sheffield Wednesday remain bottom after a 1-0 home defeat to Luton. Wednesday’s Joost van Aken saw red for a reckless high challenge. The hatters took advantage of the extra man to get the win with Pelly Ruddock scoring on 74 minutes.
While they can’t win at home Preston are still unbeaten on the road. Frazier Campbell’s 8th minute goal gave Huddersfield a half time lead. A curling effort from Alan Browne levelled the game on 51 minutes. Just two minutes later Browne found the net again. This time looping a soft punch from the keeper back into the goal. Naby Sarr got a red card for pulling down Riis Jakobsen.
Stoke up to 8th
Stoke stormed into a 3-0 lead after an hour. A free head for Steven Fletcher after nine minutes, was followed by a James McClean low shot into the near post. On the hour mark Tyrese Campbell made it three cutting inside to the edge of the box and curling a shot into the far corner. Brentford pulled two back thanks to sub Marcus Forss but Stoke held on to take their unbeaten run to seven games.
Norwich got their third straight league win after beating pointless Wycombe 2-1 at Carrow Road. Timo Pukki gave Norwich the lead early on. Scot Kashket got the goal that got Wycombe level after some poor Norwich defending. Wycombe may have thought they had their first championship point but there was late drama. Mario Vrancic 91st minute free kick went straight into the top corner with the Wycombe wall seamingly rooted to the floor. Adam Idah was shown a red card for appearing to push Joe Jacobson to the floor.
Middlesbrough left Cardiff with a point on Neil Warnock’s first visit to Cardiff City Stadium since leaving the Bluebirds. It was a classic Warnock display from Boro’ who set out early to slow the game and frustrate Cardiff. The visitors took the lead with George Saville’s header lopped in the Cardiff goal. Cardiff took the game to Boro in the second half but could not find the final touch. Their hard work did get them level with Sheyi Ojo second goal since signing from Liverpool.
Jamal Lowe smashed in on 51 minutes to give Swansea the lead at Ashton Gate. It was his second goal for Swansea. Putting it in off his left foot turning towards goal. Bristol City equalised from a Nahki Wells penalty. Conner Roberts judged to have brought down Semenyo Antoine just inside the area. A soft penalty but dispatched down the middle with power from Wells. The result sees Bristol City remain in second and Swansea in 6th.
At The Den two goals in two minutes at the end of the first half saw Millwall and Barnsley share the points. Alex Mowatt stunning volley from the edge of the area gave Barnsley the lead. Just a minute later Jake Cooper rose above everyone else to head home for Millwall.
A goalless draw at The Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium as QPR met Birmingham City. Scott Hogan did find the net for City but was ruled offside. QPR are 16th while Brimingham are 17th.
The championship rolls on to Tuesday and Wednesday again this week with Blackburn hosting leaders Reading and Bournemouth v Bristol City as the stand out games.
Indeed, the window for signing stars overseas such as Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho may have closed this week, but the domestic transfer window will remain open until October 16. In other words this allows a further 11 days for domestic clubs to strengthen their squads.
The Premier League confirmed this in a statement which says:
“During this window, clubs will only be able to trade with EFL Clubs (either loans or permanent registrations)
“No transfers can take place between Premier League sides in this period.”
Certainly Premier League clubs such as Burnley, West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United could do with some more additions, however, this begs the question, who maybe on the move to the Premier League before the second transfer window deadline:
The Algerian 24-year old set the Championship a light at times last season, scoring 17 times and providing nine assists. Benrahma joined the Bees from Nice in the summer of 2018 for just £2.8 million and has subsequently been capped by his country.
In addition, Benrahma was nominated for the Championship Player of the Year award, and plays primarily on the left flank. He proved a timely reminder of his talents in the Carabao Cup victory over Fulham by scoring two of Brentford three goals in their impressive 3-0 win.
Ismaila Sarr (Watford)
The Senegalese international winger is a reported target for the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool. Sarr’s speed, his direct running and ability to play on either flank certainly would make a valuable asset, particularly to the likes of United who missed out on adding Jadon Sancho to their ranks.
According to 2019/20 stats, Sarr completed 52 successful dribbles compared to the Red Devil’s Welsh winger Daniel James’s 28, however, the former Rennes player could cost in the region of £45 million pounds.
An added complication, however, would be that Sarr would not be able to play in European competitions due to the registration of squads being on October 6th, but he would be able to play in domestic competitions.
Todd Cantwell (Norwich City)
The Canarias’s highly rated 22-year old is a reported target for Leeds United, however, due to the Yorkshire club’s signing of Michael Cuisance on loan from Bayern Munich the likes of Burnley or West Ham United could potentially move in for Cantwell.
Cantwell has been left out of the two most recent match day squads due to speculation, he certainly impressed in the Premier League for his boyhood club last season, scoring six League goals, which was more than a fifth of Norwich’s entire goal tally.
Joe Rodon (Swansea City)
The 22-year old centre back has attracted interest from the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United.
Indeed, Spurs have already in talks to sign Rodon for a reported £18 million pounds.
The likes of Danny Higginbotham and former Manchester City defender, Andy Hinchcliffe have already compared his game to former England internationals Rio Ferdinand and John Terry.
“What I love about him as an individual is that he’s his own worst critic. He is willing to take responsibility.
“After the Preston game in February, where he’d made his first start for three months, it looked as though he hadn’t even been away and he was the best player on the pitch.”