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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Fizzy No. 20 - Cardiff City (away)

OK, now that the difficult ones are out of the way we've finally got round to the easy ones - Cardiff away and then 4 days later, Ipswich at home. What better combination to set things right, steady the boat, etc, etc...Cardiff, down there in 20th place with a meagre 20 points and more to the point they've only won 2 games at home out of 9 played.
Cardiff are also one of a very small handful of clubs ( I make it four, the Hamsters, Sheff. Wed, Stockport and Cardiff ) that we've managed to score more than twice against in the last 12 months. Exactly why we're playing them again after so recent a meeting as the one just 24 days ago is anyones guess but beggars can't be choosers. In fact not only did we score a massive three (3) goals but they are actually the ONLY team that we've managed to beat in the last 6 home games. So they must be pretty awful.
Since that game, however, things down there in Wales have improved somewhat and in fact that 3-0 at the Valley seems to have done them some good.
An unbeaten run, now stretching to three matches, doesn't sound much, although sitting where we are after two home defeats by 3-0 and 3-1, its sounds remarkably good. Its been achieved by 2 away draws at Leicester and Hull and a win at home over Ipswich. And they are showing some spirit again which was completely missing in the game at the Valley. In the last match at Hull over the weekend, they twice came from behind in a 2-2 draw with their second equaliser coming from a full-back in the 90th minute. Watch out Pards..
And their two wins at home have come against what you might term, top-teams with Ipswich being beaten 1-0 and the other one being against those formidable foes, Burnley 2-1..... Draws against Palarse, Scunthorpe and Preston and defeats by Coventry, Stoke Watford and Wolves.
Who They Got?
On the playing front there's another ex-factor to consider, although judging from his Valley performance there's nothing to fear. Of course, its JFH we're talking about and he's on a bit of a lean run and hasn't scored for 7 games now. And in fact its Paul Parry that now joins Robbie Fowler as joint top goalscorer with 4 goals. JFH only has 3 to his name.

Looking Back
The history expectations of recent games has gone all to shot with the Addicks winning at Preston for the first time in 53 years, Sheff. Utd's first win at the Valley in 37 years and Burnley winning only their 4th game away against us at the Valley. So maybe we shouldn't be too happy about our good record in our games at Cardiff. We've actually won 10 and lost 14 out of 29 League games with 5 draws, so not a bad record. Our last trip there was 22 years ago and we won 3-0 in the first game of the 1984/85 season with Killer getting a hat-trick.

The Addicks
Some explanation regarding Saturdays team changes appears with the news that both Sam and Thomas were not dropped as first thought but were carrying injuries. Thomas' seems to be more serious so its unlikely that he and Basey will make the team bus today.

Pardew's first question will therefore concern his full-backs. Danny Mills was instrumental in our defeat on Saturday while Sir Chris seemed to tire over the full 90. As we only appear to have 3 fit full-backs we can't drop both so perhaps the game would seem right to bring back Mouta0uakil and move Mills to left-back.

At centre-back expect Pards to continue with a partnership that, before last weeks catastrophes, gave us 4 clean sheets in a row.

In midfield, several people have stressed the need to give the little Irish fella a rest and an away game in mid-week would seem an ideal time to do it. We need the three points but there's other ways of doing it than relying on Andy Reid all the time. Bring back Semedo, Sam on the right, ZiZi and Holland in the centre and Ambrose on the left. Award-winning Championship Big Chris will once again be alone up front.

So its: Weaver; Moutaouakil, Sodje, Fortune, Mills; Sam, Semedo, ZiZi, Holland, Ambrose; Iwelumo.
Subs: Randolph, Bougherra, Racon, Reid, Varney.

After our recent 6 goal calamities the very idea of keeping a clean sheet seems a very distant hope and any confidence that the 3-0 win just three weeks ago could have given us is surely now all but evaporated. Lets hope that Pardew had the foresight to have someone at Hull at Saturday to watch Cardiff and that can advise Pards about their new found spirit and give him some forewarning of what to expect tonight. Contrary to Cardiff's lowly League position, this won't be an easy game and although Pards will as always be demanding a win from the players just about everyone else is praying for a just a single point to ease our anxieties, so its a 1-1 draw for me.

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