This match may not look too exciting on paper but it’s a fixture that both club’s will want to take points from, especially Newcastle who are on a run of back-to-back league defeats. Meanwhile, the hosts have managed to take 4 points from their first 3 league matches against teams who are expecting to challenge in the upper echelons of the table (Manchester City, Everton and Tottenham). The North East side can overtake the club from the Welsh capital with a victory on Saturday. Newcastle are unpredictable so far this season, with the away victory against Aston Villa and the second half on Monday showing how well Alan Pardew’s men can play. However, the first half against Everton and the away defeat to Manchester City show the ugly side of Newcastle.
After picking eight points up from their first six matches as a Premier League club, Cardiff will feel like they are comfortable at this level. They have had a tough start against some of the top clubs in the division, but they will view a Newcastle side in turmoil as the perfect opportunity to climb away from the bottom of the table. It’s crucial for them to pick up points early as a promoted club, as they are still on the high from winning the Championship. All promoted sides normally have a weaker second half to the season and Malky Mackay will be aware of that. It’s inevitable that the Welsh side will be in the relegation fight this season, as their squad isn’t as good as the majority of Premier League clubs. Plus their players and their manager have little experience at this level which will cost them points as the season progresses.
Their opponents on Saturday have had a less successful start to the season, especially when you consider that Newcastle want to finish in the top ten of the Premier League. They have dropped points at home against Hull and West Ham which is unacceptable for a team of their stature. The club has a lot of uncertainty surrounding it, with the arrival of Joe Kinnear as Director of Football and the precarious nature of Pardew’s position as manager. If they fall to a third straight loss on Saturday, the 52-year-old could lose his job as a result.
Cardiff come into the match trying to achieve back-to-back victories in the Premier League for the first time after a last minute 2-1 victory against Fulham last week. Meanwhile, Newcastle enter this match trying to avoid a third consecutive league defeat after losing their last two matches 3-2. The visitors could finish the weekend in the relegation zone, which they won’t want, even at this early stage of the season.
The Cardiff City side that beat Manchester City was worth only £13m, while the side they beat was worth £219.9m. This highlights how shrewd the Welsh club have been in the transfer market. The win also showed that the Cardiff players are not overawed by the big occasion, which will stand them in good stead in the next few months.
Loic Remy has been directly involved in four of Newcastle’s seven goals, scoring three and assisting one. Only one goal has been scored while the French International has been off the pitch (Gouffran against Aston Villa).
Gary Medal will be crucial for Cardiff on Saturday as this game is likely to be won in the middle of the park. The former Seville player has had a solid start to his career in Wales, and he has made the central midfield role his own. He has made 16 tackles so far this season at a success rate of 81.25%. He has made a tackle every 34 minutes, which is unsurprising given his reputation as a tough tackling midfield general. Furthermore, he has successfully made 12 interceptions since moving to the Barclays Premier League. His pass completion rate of 92.31% highlights his role in the side, as he collects the ball before making simple passes to team mates. This weekend he will be up against Yohan Cabaye, Moussa Sissoko and either Cheick Tiote or Vurnon Anita, who are all talented players in the middle of the park. Medal will have to be on top of his game to ensure he doesn’t allow the Newcastle midfield to dictate the game, especially Cabaye who can damage teams in the final third.
Moussa Sissoko is the key man for Newcastle, as they will need his energy from midfield to assist the front three. His lung bursting runs have played a key part in both victories this season; this emphasises that, when the French midfielder plays well, Newcastle United get a good result. He is also useful at creating chances in the final third as the above graphic shows, he has created the third most chances in the Premier League (13). An important part of the victory away at Aston Villa was the pace that the Magpies broke at with Sissoko playing a huge part in that. The former Toulouse player has yet to return to the form he showed in the early part of his Newcastle career, but he still carries a huge threat going forward and he is useful in the tackle as well.
Cardiff could be boosted by the return of Andreas Cornelius after an ankle problem. Jordan Mutch could be pushing for a place in the first eleven after a brilliant injury time winner against Fulham. Craig Bellamy should also feature against one of his former clubs, but his appearance is likely to be from the bench. Peter Odemwingie is likely to continue up front as he searches for his first league goal in the red of Cardiff.
Both Jonas Gutierrez and Massadio Haidara should be available for selection for Newcastle after lengthy spells on the sidelines. Mike Williamson could make his first league start of the season after impressing in the second half against Everton with Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa making way after an atrocious display. Yohan Cabaye will return to the starting line up according to Alan Pardew but it’s uncertain who he will replace out of Tiote and Anita. Loic Remy is likely to continue in a central role after scoring three in his last two matches.
The outcome of this match depends entirely on which Newcastle United turn up in Wales. The Jekyll and Hyde display on Monday night showed that the side could be both dire and excellent. If the visiting side play poorly then Cardiff should win, while if the side who played in the second period on Monday shows up, then they have a real chance of victory. Malky Mackay will be smelling blood on Saturday as his side have a really good opportunity to take three points if the crowd get behind them. I do think it will be a scrappy affair with a score draw of 1-1 looking the most likely result.