Cardiff City are making their return to the Premier League after a four year absence under the guidance of experienced manager Neil Warnock. Whilst nobody expects Cardiff to play the most free flowing of football, you can expect the club to be direct and make the most of what they have at their disposal.
The Bluebirds face a tough away trip to Bournemouth on the opening weekend of the season, and here’s how they may line up against the Cherries.
1. GK – Neil Etheridge
Cardiff’s undisputed number one, Etheridge is the obvious choice between the sticks. The relationship the keeper has struck up with his back four could be crucial in Cardiff grabbing a surprise result in their opening game. The stopper missed just one game for the Bluebirds last season, and he remains first choice.
2. RB – Lee Peltier
The experienced right back has never appeared in the Premier League, despite boasting considerable experience at Championship level. He remains Cardiff’s first choice right back, and shouldn’t have too much trouble adapting to the top level…just don’t expect him to be bombing up and down the wing at 31 years old.
3. CB – Sean Morrison
Another crucial part of Cardiff’s promotion winning team, Morrison boasts Premier League experience and has an eye for goal too, netting seven times in the Championship last year.
He’s not the quickest but his physicality will be important against the Cherries.
4. CB – Sol Bamba
Bamba is another who will retain his place in a very settled Cardiff back line. At 33 he may struggle to cope with the pace of Bournemouth’s attack, but when the Bluebirds are under the cosh, he could be important.
He played every game last year, so the partnership with Sean Morrison will be a key factor.
5. LB – Joe Bennett
The final piece in Cardiff’s reliable back four, Bennett offers slightly more attacking threat than his counterpart on the right side of defence. The left back contributed four assists last season, and he could provide the Bluebirds some extra width against Bournemouth.
6. MC – Joe Ralls
Ralls enjoyed a breakout season last year, playing a crucial role for Cardiff in their unexpected promotion. The seven goals and five assists he provided from midfielder was an impressive return considering he doesn’t play too far forward, although his role against Bournemouth may be more defence orientated.
7. MC – Callum Paterson
A full back-turned-midfielder, Paterson burst onto the scene for Cardiff last year following a free transfer from Hearts.
He also offers a goal threat for his side, scoring ten times last season and laying on five more goals for team mates. A knee injury saw him sidelined during the Bluebirds’ run in last season, but he appears to be fit and ready to go for the clash with Bournemouth.
8. RW – Josh Murphy
Murphy will be key all season for Cardiff, but it’s games like these (which some would see as winnable) where he could prove a massive factor in the club’s fight to stay up this year. Murphy has been ready to step up to the top flight for a while now, and his goals and assists from the wing could be important for a Cardiff side that may struggle to find the back of the net.
9. AM – Bobby Reid
Arguably Cardiff’s most impressive signing this summer, Reid is coming off the back of a superb season with Bristol City in which he scored 19 times and contributed seven assists.
He’ll be keen to get running at a Bournemouth defence which is not renowned for being particularly solid – conceding the fourth most league goals last season.
10. LW – Junior Hoilett
Another who possess so much talent, but sometimes struggles to show it, Junior Hoilett will be looking to prove that he belongs at this level.
With 129 Premier League appearances to his name, Hoilett’s experience in the top flight will be so important for Cardiff. This is a game that the Bluebirds can win, and Hoilett will be crucial if they are to manage it.
11. CF – Kenneth Zohore
The forward was at the centre of some transfer speculation last season after a sparkling start to the year, but tailed off as the season went on. Zohore is physically imposing and has a turn of pace too, but he’ll need to improve his end product if he is to become the goalscorer Cardiff will need to stay up. He’ll fancy his chances against a leaky Bournemouth defence.