Cardiff City face-off against a struggling Fulham side as Neil Warnock’s men aim to pick up their first three points of their Premier League campaign.
Fulham, much like the Bluebirds, have struggled following their promotion to the Premier League and have picked up just one win from their eight games so far in the top-flight.
The Cottagers have also failed to win any of their last five games and were dismantled by a rejuvenated Arsenal side before the international break as Slavisa Jokanovic’s men suffered a 5-1 home loss at Craven Cottage.
Due to both teams starting slowly in the top-flight this season, you would expect this to be a very close affair in the Welsh Capital.
The Bluebirds are more desperate for the three points, having failed to pick up a win since their first return to the top-flight since the 2013/2014 season and succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at Wembley to Tottenham Hotspur in their previous encounter as they ended the game with 10-men, after having midfielder Joe Ralls sent off.
Cardiff need to show more attacking prowess in front of goal moving forward and this must start today, against a Fulham side who have leaked the most goals in the Premier League this season so far – conceding a whopping 21 times in just eight fixtures.
There is no doubt Cardiff have struggled to adapt to the Premier League so far during this campaign but beating a side who are currently just three points above them would be a massive confidence booster moving forward.
And they certainly have the ability to beat Fulham, there is no doubt about that. But they must be gritty and not give Aleksandar Mitrovic a sniff, because he will punish you.
The Serbian forward played a crucial role as the Cottagers earn promotion to the Premier League following a 1-0 win in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final earlier this year when on loan at Craven Cottage.
Fulham, unsurprisingly, made the decision to make his deal permanent and he has flourished in the top-flight so far, scoring five times in eight games.
They’re a side full of quality, of course, after spending over £100 million over the course of the summer and they also have the highly-rated box-to-box midfielder, Jean Michael Seri, who has the ability to pull the strings in midfield, and on his day, he can carve any team apart with his range of passing and ability on the ball.
Cardiff don’t have the best of records against Fulham of late and have failed to win in their previous six games against the Cottagers.
You will have to go back to the 10th January 2015 for the last time the Bluebirds recorded three points against the London-based outfit, as they won 1-0, courtesy of a Sean Morrison header as they returned to their traditional blue colours.
The referee for today’s clash comes in the form of the experienced Kevin Friend. The 47-year-old has overseen five Premier League fixtures so far this term, producing a total of 11 yellow cards.
Friend, however, is yet to produce a red card. He was also in charge for the Bluebirds’ opening Premier League fixture of the season as they suffered a 2-0 defeat to AFC Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
This is probably the Bluebirds biggest game to date and if they can pick up three points against Fulham, it will give them huge confidence moving forward, before being faced with the daunting task of facing Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool at Anfield next week.
Prediction: Cardiff City 2-1 Fulham
I fancy Cardiff in this one. I think they will do enough to grind out the three points, but they need to ensure to keep Fulham’s star man, Mitrovic, quiet.
If they do that, they have every chance of picking up the three points. The Bluebirds luck must change soon – and I believe it will be today, against the Cottagers. If they do beat Fulham, they will move level on points with the London-based outfit.
Lee Peltier and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing remain long-term absentees. Joe Ralls will miss out through suspension – he will also be out for a further few weeks, revealed Warnock yesterday.
Gary Madine and Danny Ward could also be set to miss out, meaning Kenneth Zohore may start for the Bluebirds. Cardiff’s number two, Alex Smithies should also be fit enough for a place on the bench after suffering a shoulder injury.
Fulham right-back Timothy Fosu-Mensah is out with a shoulder injury. Clinical Serbian forward Mitrovic will no doubt lead the line for the Cottagers.
2017: Cardiff City 2-4 Fulham
2017: Fulham 1-1 Cardiff City
2017: Cardiff City 2-2 Fulham