Chelsea will be looking to maintain their 100% record in the Premier League under Maurizio Sarri on Saturday as they welcome Cardiff City to Stamford Bridge. This will be a game that they will be expecting to win, as the visitors are one of the favourites for relegation. However, it won’t be a walk in the park for the Blues, as Neil Warnock’s men can pose a stern test, as Arsenal would attest to.
It is going to be a season of transition at Stamford Bridge, as Sarri will need time to coach the team to effectively carry out his tactical plan. There have been encouraging signs during the opening weeks of the season, but there is a lot more to come from Chelsea. The return of Eden Hazard has been a major positive. Meanwhile, Marcos Alonso has been a constant threat down the left-hand side of the pitch. They look to be on track to challenge for a top four finish and if they achieve that, it will be considered a successful campaign. The bookies betting odds calculator will have West London club finishing in the top four but there will be plenty of work to do.
Cardiff were written off before a ball was kicked as relegation fodder. Neil Warnock has yet to have a successful season in the Premier League, but this could be his best chance of one, as the Bluebirds have fully bought into their manager’s style. It won’t always be pretty to watch, but it can be effective. They have taken two points from their opening four matches and they came close to earning a positive result against Arsenal. On Saturday, they will play like they have nothing to lose and that is dangerous for Chelsea.
- Cesc Fabregas is the only injury doubt for Chelsea. The midfielder will face a late fitness test as he recovers from a knee injury. It is likely that the Blues will field an unchanged team, despite the international break.
- Josh Murphy and Aron Gunnarsson are both in contention for a return to the squad as they recover from various injuries. However, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing will be out of action for the foreseeable future.
Pedro has already scored three Premier League goals in four matches this season. This is more than he managed in the previous 23 in the competition.
Cardiff were clinical against Arsenal as they scored two of their three shots on target. These goals were their first of the Premier League season.
For a long time, Hazard has been considered one of the best players in the Premier League. However, he hasn’t taken that final step to becoming one of the best in Europe. At the age of 27, this could be a coming of age season for the Belgian international and the free-flowing style of Sarri should help him deliver that. This season, he has already contributed two goals and two assists in just 223 minutes of football. The attacker has averaged 3.5 dribbles, 2.5 shots and 2.5 key passes per game during the opening four fixtures. He has been made the main attacking threat in the Blues’ team with the license to roam freely behind Alvaro Morata. Cardiff will look to be difficult to break down on Saturday, but Hazard has the quality to make the difference.
Cardiff City’s recruitment wasn’t as eye-catching as the other two promoted clubs, as Neil Warnock favoured lower league talent. However, Harry Arter was a very shrewd addition from Bournemouth. The midfielder provides Premier League experience and a tenacity that suits Warnock’s style very well. He knows what it takes to help an unfancied team stay in the top-flight and he will be looking for similar success in the Welsh capital. Chelsea will dominate proceedings on Saturday, but the 28-year-old midfielder has the quality to unsettle his opposite numbers and he will be crucial if the visitors are to take anything from the game.
Chelsea have to be considered firm favourites for this match considering their 100% record and home advantage. It will be another test of attrition as they will face a team looking to sit deep and soak in pressure. There will be a lot of the ball for the likes of Willian, Pedro and Hazard, who are all capable of having a meaningful impact on this match. For Cardiff, it will be about battling hard and trying to stay in the game as long as possible, with set pieces being their main weapon. A home win is likely, but it might not be as convincing as many are expecting.
Chelsea 2-0 Cardiff City