Date and Time: Sunday 30th September (16:00)
Venue: Cardiff City Stadium
Referee: Martin Atkinson
TV: Sky Sports
Cardiff City will be looking to respond in front of the TV cameras when hosting Burnley on Saturday after being demolished by Premier League Champions Manchester City last weekend.
The Bluebirds are still without a win after being torn apart by Sergio Aguero and co in the Welsh Capital and this is now being deemed as a ‘must-win’ game for Neil Warnock’s men.
There have been six Premier League encounters played so far and Cardiff sit in 19th place, and have the joint worst goal difference in the top flight, alongside Huddersfield Town – both teams are on -11 for the season.
It has been a miserable start to the season for Neil Warnock’s men, but visitors Burnley have also struggled, and some of that has perhaps been down to their participation in the UEFA Europa League during the early stages of the season.
But they’re coming into this game with real confidence following a display of attacking zest and endeavour against AFC Bournemouth last weekend, as they comfortably beat Eddie Howe’s men 4-0 at Turf Moor – and they will be looking for a similar performance against Cardiff come Sunday afternoon.
The Clarets certainly have players who are capable of causing the Bluebirds problems at the back, too. Aaron Lennon rolled back the years last Saturday with a fantastic performance against the Cherries, which saw the 31-year-old earn the man of the match award following an assist and a goal.
Ashley Barnes also looked very refreshing from the substitutes bench and despite being on the pitch for only 21 minutes, he took both of his goals expertly and may have given Sean Dyche a bit of a selection headache ahead of Sunday’s contest at the Cardiff City Stadium.
The last three meetings between the Bluebirds and the Clarets have all finished in draws, including their 1-1 in April 2013 at Turf Moor, which saw them claim their ‘first ever’ Championship title.
Cardiff have done very well against the Clarets in recent years and are currently on a 13-match unbeaten run against Burnley – the last time they defeated Cardiff was at home, in 2007, courtesy of goals from Andy Gray and Paul McVeigh.
The referee who is taking charge of proceedings on Sunday afternoon comes in the form of Martin Atkinson, who oversaw three of Cardiff’s games the last time they were in the Premier League. The 47-year-old was in charge of their losses against both Aston Villa and Newcastle United, the latter relegating Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
But they did have some joy with Atkinson in charge, defeating Fulham at home in March 2014, 3-1, as defender Steven Caulker scored twice, and the Cottagers right-back, Sascha Riether put the ball into the back of his own net as the Bluebirds claimed all three points.
This is now being billed as a must-win game, and with away trips to both Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool to come, there is no wonder why.
The Bluebirds simply have to beat Burnley, no matter how they do it. They will need to be gritty, passionate and need to show Warnock why they can be such a difficult team to face-off against at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Prediction: Cardiff City 2-1 Burnley
In-front of a packed out Cardiff City Stadium, I can see the Bluebirds winning this one. The fans will really need to play their part on Sunday, though and get behind their team from the offset.
It is essential Cardiff get on top in the early stages, too. If they press high, as they did in the games against both Arsenal and Chelsea, it is without a shadow of a doubt that they will cause this Burnley back-line big problems.
Now it’s about putting in the performance and claiming a crucial three points against Burnley in-front of the Sky Sports cameras this coming Sunday.
Warnock may opt to make several changes from the side that were trounced by Manchester City last time out. Joe Bennett could come in to replace Greg Cunningham – with Josh Murphy also pushing for a starting place after coming off the bench in the loss to the Citizens.
Aron Gunnarsson’s fitness is still being assessed, but he may play some part in the Welsh Capital on Sunday.
Nick Pope, Robbie Brady and Ben Gibson are all out for the visitors. expect Aaron Lennon to maintain his starting position after a sizzling performance against AFC Bournemouth last weekend in Burnley’s 4-0 win – Ashley Barnes may start after scoring twice for the Clarets in a cameo substitute appearance.
2016: Burnley 0-0 Cardiff City
2015: Cardiff City 2-2 Burnley
2013: Burnley 1-1 Cardiff City