Cardiff City welcome Preston to the Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday in the Championship. The Bluebirds have won their last four games and are unbeaten in six matches. The run has seen the Welsh club move to seventh in the table.
Preston, who currently sit 13th have lost three of their last six, but have won two both away from home.
Cardiff have won the last two meetings of the teams both at Deepdale. Preston have picked up a draw and win on their last two visits to Cardiff. The overall record between the side is even with 36 wins apiece and 23 draws.
New Cardiff signing Jonny Williams has trained is available to make his debut. Sheyi Ojo is also back available for selection. Lee Tomlin continues his recovery having a run out with the under 23’s.
Key players Keiffer Moore and Josh Murphy are doubts after picking up knocks in Cardiff’s win at Luton. Midfielder Joe Ralls will miss this game as he recovers from an ankle injury.
Preston will wait on the availability of midfielder Ryan Ledson who missed the visit of Watford.
Billy Bodin has picked up a knock after a troubling time with injuries.
“They are always difficult games against Mick’s teams.
“We faced his Ipswich Town in the Play-Offs when I was at Norwich and we just managed to beat them, but if they manage to make the Play-Offs this season, they aren’t a team you want to be facing.
“Mick has been in this league for years and he knows how to get the job done.
“He has turned around Cardiff’s fortunes and they are now looking to get into the top six, but equally, we need to try and get some more points on the board as well. It is going to be an important game for both teams.
“They are riding high and will be confident, but some of our best performances have been on the road this year in terms of going and getting good results against difficult opponents.”
Harry Wilson has four goals and seven assists this season for Cardiff. He scored the first goal as Cardiff beat Luton on Tuesday despite having had a quiet game up until then. The type of player who may be out of a game for long periods but can pull off a piece of magic at any time.
Scott Sinclair has scored eight goals this season and the former Swansea player will pose a treat to Cardiff’s wing backs. With a pass percentage of almost 80% the experienced winger will be hard to stop.
Prediction: Cardiff City 2- 1 Preston North End
This game will be tight and the first goal will be key. Cardiff have had the quality in the side all season but now look like the confidence of a top six side has returned.
As derby games go there are not many bigger, historic or outright bizarre than the South Wales derby between Cardiff and Swansea. A friendly rivalry for many years at first turned into one of the most heated matches in football.
As welsh clubs playing in the English football league the early derby matches were played with fans mixing and some friendly banter. As the years went on on football hooliganism escalated so did the hatred between the two sets of fans.
A Brief History
Trouble at football games in the UK had been on the rise throughout the 70’s and 80’s and Cardiff and Swansea games were no different. Many football fans will be familiar with Swansea’s Swim Away gesture to Cardiff fans. This all stems from an incident at a match in Swansea in 1988.
As this was pre smart phones and viral videos accounts of the incident vary wildly but after a 2-0 Cardiff win around 30 Cardiff supporters were chased into the water. Police moved the Swansea fans away and dripping wet Cardiff supporters emerged from the waters. The swim away gesture has been used by many ex Swansea players whilst playing against Cardiff.
This season’s first meeting will take place at the Cardiff City Stadium, but without any supporters. It will be the first without any fans at the ground, but for many years away supporters were banned from this fixture.
After years of rising trouble at the derby fixture the FAW finally had enough in 1993, banning away supporters for four years. It came to a head after a match at Ninian Park in 1993, the game has been dubbed the “Battle of Ninian Park”. Swansea fans came to Ninian Park and ripped out seats and threw them at Cardiff supporters. Cardiff supporters responded by invading the pitch to attack the Swansea fans. Former Football Intelligence officer Simon Chivers described it as “the worst violence I’ve ever seen.” There were many arrests and several police officers and supporters were injured in one of the darkest days for Welsh football. For the first time in the UK away supporters were banned from attending until 1997.
Thankfully scenes like this are no longer the norm at Cardiff/Swansea games. When fans were allowed to attend away games all fixtures between the sides have been “bubble” games.
Across the years no side has ever won two league meetings in a season. The clubs have won two games in a season, but due to playing in the Welsh Cup, the league double has never been done.
Cardiff have turned their form around winning four straight games. They have scored ten and conceded just one in that run. They have climbed up to 9th place and are just four points from the play-off places.
Swansea, meanwhile, have won three, drawn two and lost one of their last six games. They are in 4th place and only a point behind 2nd placed Bournemouth.
Last season saw a goalless draw at Cardiff while Swansea won 1-0 in their home game. Prior to last season the last derby games came in the Premier League.
Swansea enjoyed a 3-0 win at the Liberty Stadium in Garry Monk’s first game as manager. It was the Bluebirds who won the first ever Premier League game 1-0 with former Swansea player Steven Caulker scoring the only goal.
Cardiff have the edge overall with 44 wins to Swansea’s 36, with 28 draws.
Harry Wilson is a major doubt for the game with an arm injury picked up during City’s win at Stoke on Tuesday. Osei-Tutu and Tomlin are both still unavailable. With Wilson likely to miss this game Junior Hoilett will be the most likely to step in in.
Morgan Gibbs-White is still out for Swansea but Steve Copper will have no new injury concerns.
“It’s a huge game. Bragging rights are at stake. It’s a massive game. I was watching some footage earlier of the game back in January. The stadium was packed, atmosphere was electric. Both clubs will miss the fans. It’s a great fixture in the football calendar, one of the biggest games of the season in the Championship.
“Fans will be missed but it doesn’t take away the importance of it.“
“We know the importance to the fan base.“
Harris was asked if he understood the importance of this game for the Cardiff fans,
“Course I do. It’s never lost on me.“
“In my playing career, they are the best games to play in.
“I know the importance to the fan base and that will certainly be mentioned in the changing room. It already has been.
“It’s not a joy for people in lockdown in the lead up to Christmas and they can’t watch their team. There’s been a hardship and we have an opportunity to put smiles on faces.“
“It will be different in terms of the game and atmosphere,
“They were electric atmospheres last season, as anyone who was there will tell you, so we can’t shy away from it, it is different.
“That’s why you cannot compare with previous seasons or previous games.
“But is a game that means an awful lot to supporters, it’s one we really want to win and one we want to really commit to and attack.
“It is for the supporters. I want them to see a team working hard and giving their best because football is so important to so many people.
“It will be a perfect chance to give a bit back and we will be committing to that.”
While Kieffer Moore is gaining plaudits for his recent form part of this has been down to the introduction of Mark Harris. Harris has been a revelation since his introduction to the starting line which has seen Cardiff win the last four. Harris has scored one himself but gives defenders more to think about allowing more space for Moore. The Swansea born striker could be the key to unlocking Swansea’s defence.
Andre Ayew has picked up seven goals this season for Swansea. Swansea have only lost one game this season when Ayew has scored. The striker is a big game player and will relish this fixture.
Prediction; Cardiff ? v ? Swansea
This derby is unpredictable at the best of times. Playing behind closed doors will change the dynamic like never before in this fixture. Its likely to be a close game with just a goal in it.
Neil Harris returns to former club Millwall this weekend for the first time since leaving in October 2019. Harris enjoyed a successful period in London as both a player and manager. As a player he is Millwall’s all-time record goalscorer with 138 goals across two spells at the club. He took the club into the Championship in 2017 via the play-offs.
Millwall currently sit 9th in the Championship with 17 points having only lost two of their 11 matches. Their only defeat in the last five came in a home loss to Huddersfield by three goals to nil. With three draws in their last five they are hard to beat, but are struggling for a winning run.
Cardiff, meanwhile, have two defeats in their last three games with just one win. The Bluebirds have a habit of going behind in games, five of the last six. They often therefore start slow and have to chase games.
The last five league meetings between the sides have been draws. The last win coming for Millwall in 2014, 1-0. With current form this game is likely to be another tight affair. Since 1999 the sides have drawn 11 times.
Former Cardiff striker Kenneth Zohore will miss the game against his former club with a ankle injury. Midfielder Shane Ferguson is doubtful following being withdrawn after 36 minutes during Northern Ireland’s defeat to Austria. Forward Troy Parrott could return to the squad. He played 45 minutes for the Republic of Ireland under 21’s on Sunday. He also made a brief cameo for the senior side on Wednesday.
Cardiff will be without Lee Tomlin until mid January. Tomlin has had surgery on an ongoing groin issue. Full back Greg Cunningham meanwhile is back in training but this game may come too soon for him. Full back Jordi Osei-Tutu will also be out for at least four weeks, so Cardiff will likely have to play Leandro Bacuna at right back.
“I’m glad to be going into it [the Cardiff match] off the back of a little bit of a breather. It allows us the chance to at least feel fresh.
“It’s going to be a challenge for the players, just because Cardiff are a good side and it’s Neil and Livers [David Livermore] coming back – their old management team. There’s always that strangeness to it.
“Cardiff are good at what they do. They are trying to play a little bit more but they also have an obvious physical threat that you’ve got to try and deal with.
“They’ve got players like [Harry] Wilson and [Marlon] Pack in there, technical players who move the ball well. It’s a balanced team, like we are.”
The Millwall also boss spoke about his sides home form and how it needs to improve:
“We need to start delivering more wins at home and this is the first one of a group of games which are a tough run. We’ve got a tough-looking run of fixtures over the next period. But the Championship is like that anyway. You’ve got to do your best and try and win it.
“I know Cardiff have maybe not started quite as well as they’d like but that is the same for many teams in the division.”
“Every game is a shame without fans but I understand a Millwall connection. It can work with me or against me.It’s a game of football at the weekend that we want to win.
“A lot of similarities in the passion of the fan bases (cardiff and Millwall). Cardiff City Stadium, big games I’ve played there and managed and the fans can be the turning point and I’m sure they would have been a couple of Fridays ago.
“The same can be said of Millwall, the fans get behind them and can really spur you on“
The Cardiff manager also spoke about the buzz from the returning Welsh players, (Harry Wilson and Kieffer Moore who both scored in Wales’ 3-1 win over Finland):
“Yeah! Definitely! Harry and Kieffer have come back into the building with a buzz, Mark Harris, too. (Mark Harris scored for Wales under 21’s)
“It lifts the group, lifts our fan base going into Saturday. We feel it and I’m sure the whole of Cardiff City does.“
One of Neil Harris’ objectives at Cardiff is to improve the Academy and bring though more youth players. He spoke about his younger players stepping up recently:
“Friday was one of the first times we had all the Under-23s, Under-18s, some younger as well, training with us.It was fantastic. It was so good to see. We are a football club that wants to move forward by promoting young players.
“We have got to be patient, as I keep saying, but we’ve got some very talented 15, 16 and 17-year-olds that, as soon as they are good enough, I don’t care how old they are, they are in the group.
“We have had lads out of school, training with the first team. That’s where we are at, that’s because we believe in good young players coming through.
“But that has to run parallel with getting results on a Saturday.“
For Millwall it is Jed Wallace, who has four goals so far, playing on the right of Millwall’s attacking from three. Speaking ahead of the game about his sides form”
For Cardiff they’ll be hoping Harry Wilson carries on from his display for Wales on Wednesday night. It was a stellar performance that even earned praise from Manchester United legend Roy Keane who stated that Wilson’s goal was “outstanding”.
Prediction: Millwall 1-1 Cardiff City
Without any fans at the Den to boost two sides fighting for form, and given recent history this game will only be a draw.
Reading missed the chance to extend their lead at the top to six points after a second straight defeat. Second placed Swansea drew with Brentford meaning Reading still have a three point lead. Bristol City and Cardiff bonce back from weekend losses with wins. Wycombe make it two wins in two and Prestons impressive away form continues as they make it four wins from five.
Swansea traveled to Brentford, the side that beat them in last seasons play-offs.
The Swans started brightly with Kyle Naughton and Andre Ayew testing the Bees Keeper David Raya. Brentford, however, took the lead in the 32nd minute as Ivan Toney turned in Mathias Jensens cross from close range. Swansea leveled through Ayew, who turned in Matt Grimes’ cross inside the six yard box. Swansea sit second after an impressive start whilst last years play-off finalists sit in tenth.
Swansea boss Steve Cooper thought his side deserved to win the game telling the BBC:
“We thought that we were comfortable in the game and Freddie (Woodman) didn’t have a save to make all game. Their keeper made two world class saves in the early stages.
“You wish after a performance like that coming here that it would have been three points instead of one”.
Thomas Frank told BBC Radio London:
“We didn’t play particularly well in the second half, but neither did Swansea. There was a lot of back and forth, but with their goal, we need to defend better”.
Bristol City, meanwhile, are back to winning ways after five games without one, coming from behind at Huddersfield Town. Josh Koroma gave the home side the lead two minutes from the break.
City turned the game around in the second half with goals from Jay Dasilva and Jamie Paterson. Huddersfield sit 15th in the table whilst Bristol City sit outside the play-off places on goal difference. This was a good time for Bristol to regain some form as they head to south Wales on Friday for the Severnside Derby.
Their host’s on Friday also got a win on Tuesday as Cardiff responded to Neil Harris’ criticism of them after Saturday loss to QPR. Neil Harris switched to a 4-4-2 starting with Kieffer Moore and Robert Glatzel. Junior Hoilett gave the Bluebirds the lead after four minutes skillfully bringing down Joe Bennett’s cross. Joe Ralls added a second just before the break from the spot after Harry Wilson was brought down. Wilson added a third on 77 minutes with a stunning left footed strike from outside the box. Cardiff move to 13th and Barnsley are 18th.
Sheffield Wednesday ended Bournemouth’s unbeaten start with a 1-0 victory at Hillsborough. The goal came from the spot after Josh Windass skipped around Begovic but was brought down by Steve Cook. Cook also saw a red card for the challenge. Barry Bannan calmly put the spot kick home. Wednesday held on to win despite Kadeem Harris being sent off for a rash tackle in stoppage time.
Norwich City were unable to break Millwall’s defence at Carrow Road as Millwall get a vital away point.
Przemysław Płacheta saw his effort just before half time smash the upright. Emiliano Buendia saw his effort saved by Millwall keeper Bialkowski. Norwich boss Daniel Farke told BBC Radio Norfolk:
“We created an unbelievable amount of chances with lots of possession close to the opponent’s box. We had 27 chances today. Can’t complain too much, the only thing we can criticise is our responsibility to finish”.
Elsewhere, Middlesbrough made it nine unbeaten as they drew at Blackburn 0-0.
Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray told BBC Radio Lancashire:
“Let’s hope there are not many games like that the rest of the season. It wasn’t nice to watch, I didn’t enjoy it. Lets take the point put it in the bank and move on”.
Neil Warnock told BBC Tees:
“The only regret was not getting three points but that’s the Championship, if you don’t win you’ve got to make sure you come away with a point”.
Another away win for Preston as they beat leaders Reading by three goals. Despite a missed penalty from Daniel Johnson two goals in four minutes from Scott Sinclair and Emil Riis followed by a Brad Potts goal in stoppage time gave Preston their fourth away win.
A high ball into the box was clearly chested down by Sinclair and slotted into the goal despite Reading appeals for offside. A quick counter saw Preston double their lead Emil Riis reaching a long ball and sliding his shot under the advancing keeper. Another quick break from Preston saw Tom Barkhuizen get behind Readings defence. His squared ball into the box was met by Potts who put the ball into the top corner.
Reading head coach Veljko Paunovic said after the game:
“I’m not disappointed but I feel the pain. When you lose a game, you have to absorb it. That’s what I’ve told the players.
“You have to bounce back and convert the pain into a positive energy for the next game”.
Preston boss Alex Neil said:
“This seems to be quite common for us on the road. We’ve been excellent on the road”.
A five goal thriller at Vicarage Road as Watford beat Stoke City. Stoke took the lead after 2 minutes, Steven Fletcher finishing a training ground corner.
Watford equalised after 28 minutes Tom Cleverley finishing off a lovely piece of passing play from Watford. Cleverley’s shot came off the bar and the ground to be collected by the keeper, after a brief wait the ref gave the goal after receiving a signal form the Goal Decision System.
Joao Pedro’s gave the lead to Watford after Sarr was brought down by Stoke Keeper Angus Gunn. Nick Powell leveled for Stoke with a right footed strike from the edge of the box on 81 minutes. But Watford weren’t done as Sarr found the net three minutes into added time.
Wycombe made it three unbeaten with a 2-1 win at St Andrews. Despite going behind to a Marc Roberts goal just before the break. A late second half fight back with Scott Kashket leveling the game on 75 minutes and an own goal in injury time from Kristian Pedersen. Wycombe after severn points in three games are not just a point of Coventry and getting out of the relegation zone.
Coventry lost out on a point to a 96 minute Lyle Taylor penalty as they lost to Forest 2-1. Scott Mckenna had given Forest the lead before Callum O’Hare squared things up. This was Forests first win in five and they sit 20th in the table. Derby lost again at Pride Park as QPR scored a late winner for the second game running. After a 91 minute winner on Saturday, Macauley Bonne’s late header gave QPR another three points. Luton picked up a good win away at Rotherham 1-0 with a goal from James Collins.
Another busy weekend of Championship action as Friday sees the Serevenside Derby between Cardiff City and Bristol City. Leaders Reading host Stoke in Saturdays early kick off, whilst Norwich v Swansea should be a cracker of a game.