Know thine enemy!
Nothing remarkable strikes out about Cardiff's season so far. Midtable in the Championship. Last season, they finished.12th. The season before, was clearly a remarkable season for them, as they finished.11th. Although admittedly, this season they have been pushing for a promotion place, and they do have a game in hand over most of there immediate competition (which could take them to 9th) - it would seem like, by and large, life in the Championship is something that they are finding quite comfortable.
There top goal scorer, Paul Parry (with 10 goals), doesn't make it into the Championships top 10, whilst there clean sheet record (12) is kept hidden by there website, and there goal difference (+3) is hardly something to shout about either. The 47 goals they have scored is just 1 more than our very own 46 - yet they have played 8 more games than us!
To further their problems, Cardiff seemingly have a small squad. They have only used 26 players (there site says 36, but 10 of these have yet to make appearances) this season - a figure that our 31 puts to shame. And who said we had a small squad?! But what they lack in size, they make up for in experience. Harry Redknapp is not the only manager able to lure the
experienced to their territory. With Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Robbie Fowler leading the way.
However despite these somewhat mundane statistics and small squad, Cardiff's form of late has been well above average - 12 (there magic number!) points from the last 6 games gives them the 5th best current from the in the league - and it is also exactly the same as our last 6 games, from which we have also accumulated 12 points, which puts us 4th (albeit in a
Unfortunately for us, it is there ability to come out and play in the big games that is what will worry us. At home to West Brom, they had a massive 65% of possession (despite playing out a 0-0 draw). They beat Bristol City 2-1, drew with Hull City, and drew with Watford - there record against the "top" teams is the rival of even ours!
Unfortunately, statistics quite frequently hide the truth. League performance is a mark of consistency. How frequently can you play at your best? Is it just for periods in a single game? is it for a couple of games in a row? Or, if you are Manchester united, will you only make one mistake in an entire season? This is the mark of a great team. However, like I say, this will count for nothing on the day.
There is something about the FA cup that makes less consistent players, at clubs that don't do so well in the League, perform well beyond the level at which it is assumed that they play at. Paul Parry is probably just as good at shooting as Jermain Defoe - its just that Defoe has the knack of "getting it right" in every game, not just every third game. But when it comes to a cup final, the chances are, we will find that more often than not, the Cardiff players "just get it right". They will find that, as opposed to timing there run a fraction of a second early, and being offside, they will get it just right. There goalkeeper will be able to catch what he would normally palm away, and mis-timed challenges will be a thing of the past for the midfielders. The adrenaline will be running through them, an will convert what should on paper, be a walkover game into one that we will be struggling to keep the ball in, let alone score.
However much we look into them and there league form, there is only going to be one performance from the last couple of years that will give us even a slight inclination as to how well they will play - there game against Middlesbrough, and that was just the quarter final. Think what they will be like in the real thing! Written by pompeycarpet
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