Cardiff City v Middlesbrough Championship preview

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.

Team News

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”.

Warnock continued:

“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”.

Key Players

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.

Harry Wilson scores his first Cardiff City Goal

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.

Championship midweek Review

Reading moved to the top of table after their win on Tuesday. The Royals with their fifth win of the season sit three points clear of Bristol City. City suffered a 1-0 defeat on Tuesday evening going down to Neil Warnock’s Middlesbrough.

Wednesday night saw Bournemouth earn at point at Cardiff, a home win for Watford and Brentford win at Sheffield Wednesday. Bournemouth remain unbeaten so far and are currently fourth. Watford’s win sees them in thrid spot three points behind leaders Reading.

Tuesday’s Action

Reading won at the Madejski thanks to a Lucas Joao goal on 64 minutes. A long ball from the back was taken down by Joao with his back to goal. Turning past two Wycombe defenders he then fired low into the net. Another clean sheet for Reading who have the best defence in the division. A sixth defeat for Wycombe, and having managed only one goal puts them in a difficult position in their first ever Championship Campaign.

Reading manager Veljko Paunovic said after the game:

“Defensively, we’re looking solid so far but we have to keep working to improve going forward and game by game, we’ll keep building and progressing”.

Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth, meanwhile, had this to say:

“I think six defeats on the spin is a first for me and it’s not a nice feeling. We need to get a win on the board and I’m sure that’s just around the corner”.

Bristol City dropped to second after gifting Middlesbrough the winning goal at Ashton Gate. Playing out from the back Bristol defender Luke Moore got caught and lost the ball to George Saville who then slotted it past the advancing keeper.

This was Bristol City’s first defeat of the season, manager Dean Holden told BBC Bristol:

“We were nowhere near the level we were at previously, we didn’t have a shot on target during the game and our performance levels were well below where we’ve been”.

Neil Warnock’s Boro are 11th and the veteran manager told BBC Tees:

“We were always dangerous going forward, we just couldn’t get the bit of luck and we get a goal like that, we worked on closing down and George Saville did exactly that and it’s nice when you get your reward”.

Millwall moved into a Play-off place courtesy of a 2-0 win at home to Luton. A Cranie own goal in first half stoppage time and a stunner from Connor Mahoney. Mahoney’s shot form the edge of the box going in off the post.

Derby’s poor start continued as they lost at Huddersfield by a goal from Juninho Bacuna. Its four games unbeaten for the Terriers. Derby have now lost five of their six games who are in the relegation places.

Swansea remain in the play-off places following their draw with Coventry City. Jordan Shipley after 19 minutes gave Coventry the lead. Andre Ayew equalised on 41 minutes.

Nottingham Forest and Rotherham United shared the points after a 1-1 draw at the City Ground. Daniel Barlaser with a penalty for Rotherham after 51 minutes was cancelled out by Sammi Ameobi goal on 79 minutes. Norwich made it two wins in a row beating Birmingham City by a goal to nil. Mario Vranic with the goal on 87 minutes.

Wednesday’s Action

Watford moved up to third after a 3-1 win over Blackburn. A lovely piece of passing was finished by Pedro to give Watford the lead after just 13 minutes. Ismaila Sarrs’ skilful control gave him the chance to shoot, his shot was saved but fell to Tom Cleverley who headed in an open goal. Rovers hit back before half time when Brereton brought the ball down with his chest and volleyed into the bottom right corner from outside the box.

Watford restored their two goal lead just after the restart. A cross from the Watford left was turn into the Blackburn net by Darragh Lenihan. Blackburn had a lifeline to salvage something from the game on 69 minutes when Lewis Holtby was brought down in the box. Alex Armstrong took the spot kick putting it to Ben Forsters right. The keeper went the right way and pushed the ball wide.

Bournemouth dropped below Watford after drawing at Cardiff. The Cherries lead at half time thanks to a Dominic Solanke goal on 35 minutes. Jack Stacey’s cross from the Cardiff left found Solanke free inside the six yard box to tap home. Cardiff had chances in the first half, Harry Wilson shot from the edge of the box zipped just past the post.

The Stacy-Solanke combo almost made it two nil if not for a stunning close range save from Alex Smithies. The game was wide open and Harry Wilson struck the bar from a free kick as Cardiff looked to level. Will Vaulks saw his header from Wilson’s corner tipped over by Asmir Begovic. Cardiff did get level on 62 minutes. Hoiletts’ low ball across the box missed Robert Glatzel but went to Harry Wilson who sent his side footed shot into the corner. Stanislas struck the bar from a free kick, as Bournemouth press for a winner. Cardiff held on to get their first home point of the season.

Two goals from Ivan Toney either side of a Callum Patterson goal gave Brentford all three points at Hillsborough. The win sees Brentford one point behind sixth placed Swansea. Wednesday still have a navigate points tally of -4 which leaves then 7 points adrift of Barnsley.

Barnsley twice lead at Stoke with goals from Elliot Simoes and dominik Frieser. Stoke leveled first though Tyrese Campbell and then Tom Smith. Stoke’s Nathan Collins saw red for an off the ball incident with Frieser.

Preston continued their good away form with a 2-0 win at Queens Park Rangers. Daniel Johnson with a first half penalty and Scot Sinclair with another in the second half. Preston top the table on away form so if they can fin some form at Deepdale they could really challenge towards the top this season.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WEDNESDAY NIGHT PREVIEW

Following Manchester United’s successful trip to Paris on Tuesday, both Liverpool and Manchester City will be looking to emulate their rivals with successful starts to their 2020/21 UEFA Champions League campaigns.

Here are your previews ahead of the big games on Wednesday night…

Real Madrid v Shakhtar Donetsk 17.55

Madrid will be hoping for a better European venture third time around having been eliminated at the quarter-final stage in August. Still possessing plenty of quality, Zinedine Zindane’s men are rightfully still considered a real thrrst at the business end of the compeition.

However, off the back of a surprise home defeat to Cadiz in La Liga, Los Blancos perhaps aren’t the side they once were.

They should still have enough quality to come past the Ukrainian champions.

Manchester City v Porto 20.00

Pep Guardiola will be without star performer Kevin De Bruyne for the visit of Porto on matchday one. Despite this they will go into the match as huge favourites, and joint favourites with Bayern Munich for the competition outright.

City are desperate to end their wait for European success and will hope a solid start against Porto will set them on their way.

Their Portuguese visitors are no easy task, and will boast West Ham loanne Felipe Anderson as part of their squad.

Ajax v Liverpool 20.00

This meeting between two of the giants of European football will come as a welcome break for Liverpool from talking about injuries, VAR controversy and that derby day draw.

As we all by now know Virgil van Dijk will miss this game, and perhaps the remainder of the season. Both Alisson and Thiago also miss out for the Reds whilst Jurgen Klopp does welcome back Naby Keita into his squad.

Ajax still present a major opposition, albeit a little stripped of their quality players who helped them reach the semi-finals of the competition during 2018/19, the year Liverpool made it six.

Bayern Munich v Atletico Madrid 20.00

A clash of epic proportions see’s holders play host to Liverpool’s extra time conqureors Atletico Madrid.

Hansi Flicks men are many peoples favourites to make it back to back Champions League’s whilst Diego Simeone’s charges are always difficult to beat.

This match promises to be a battle of free-flowing attack against rigid well organised defence.

Other Fixtures

RB Salzburg v Locomotiv Moscow, Midtylland v Atlanta, Olympiacos v Marseille, Inter Milan v Borussia Monchengladbach

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE Tuesday Night PREVIEW

The UEFA Champions League returns tonight with two nights of action lined up and plenty of top quality fixtures in store.

After last seasons competition drawing to a close in odd circumstances without fans in Lisbon and in a one game format, this seasons tournament kicks off without fans across Europe as counties continue to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s your preview of the key fixtures from the opening night…

Barcelona v Ferencvaros

After a turbulent summer, Barcelona, with Lionel Messi, will be happy to be back playing football, and none more so than in their favourite competition.

The Catalan giants go into their opening fixture as huge favourites and should make light work of Celtic’s qualifying conquerors.

Chelsea v Sevilla

This looks set to be a classic tie as Frank Lampard’s new look Chelsea host the Europa League winners Sevilla at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues have been inconsistent this term in the Premier League and have made a habit of conceding goals, something they will have to address on the opening night as they face a well organised La Liga outfit who pose plenty of threat.

PSG v Manchester United

Manchester United travel to last seasons runners-up and the birthplace of the permanent appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjær.

United haven’t made a particularly thrilling start to their domestic campaign, despite a 4-1 victory in their last outing. This will be a huge test for the three times European champions.

The Red Devils will also be without their club captain Harry Maguire in defence, while Edinson Cavani is currently deemed not fit enough yet to play against his former employers having only started training with United on Sunday.

PSG, meanwhile, have won their last five games in Ligue 1 and look set to provide plenty of problems.

Other Fixtures

Dynamo Kyiv v Juventus 17.55, Zenit St Petersburg v Club Brugge 17.55, Lazio v Dortmund 20.00, RB Leipzig 20.00, Rennes v Krasnodar 20.00

Vivianne Miedema becomes WSL record goal scorer

The Dutch and Arsenal striker Vivianne Miedema broke the all-time Women Super League goal scoring record this past weekend in style by scoring a stunning hat-trick in the Gunner’s 6-1 win over their North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur. 

At the age of just 24, Miedema has already managed an impressive 52 goals in 50 appearances for the club, surpassing the previous record of former Manchester City forward Nikita Parris, who now plies her trade with the current Champions League winner’s, Olympique Lyon. 

Indeed, the Dutch striker has already achieved a number of impressive allocates already in Women’s football having been not only been named the 2020 Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year, but is also the Netherlands’ record goal scorer with 69 goals in 89 games. 

In addition to those incredible individual honours, Miedema unsurprisingly holds the record for the most WSL goals in a season, 22 in the 2018-19 campaign, was part of the Netherlands European Championship winning side back in 2017 and appeared in a World Cup Final in 2019. 

No wonder former Gunners forward Kelly Smith referred to Miedema as the ‘complete striker’. 

Speaking to the PA Agency, Smith said:

“You just look at her goals to game ratio and she’s been outstanding. She scores goals with her left and right foot, her head, she sets goals up.  For me she is the complete striker, and is the best in the world at the moment.” 

Miedema, however, could soon be joined at the 50-goal mark by England and Manchester City forward Ellen White, who sits on 48 WSL goals, but what makes the Dutch striker’s goal record more impressive is that of the 52 goals she has scored not one of them has come from the penalty spot. Not only that but White is now 31-years old and has played twice as many games, 105 appearances.  

Miedema’s favourite opponent to score against meanwhile is Bristol City, having scored 12 of her goals against the Robins in total, including six in a remarkable 11-1 victory back in December 2019. 

No wonder Arsenal Manager, Joe Montemurro has made providing Miedema with a new contract as top of the Gunners list of priorities, this news will surely bring delight to all Arsenal fans. 

Montemurro said:

“We’re already starting to look at where we’re heading with the direction next year and years to come, but obviously Viv will be on top of that list and we’ll do everything we can to make sure Viv remains part of the group.

“She’s an important part of the group, obviously as a footballer but also off the park, her qualities as a person are fantastic.”

THE FANS PLATFORM

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