'The season starts on Saturday.' It might be an early season cop out to describe Town's first two games of the 2018/19 season, but it does have some substance. Nobody expected Town to take anything from the games against Man City and Chelsea and we matched the same points haul as Arsenal who played the same two sides. I wonder if that means Arsenal are now relegation favourites?
It's also chance to see David Wagner's side play in the Huddersfield Town way we've been used to and not the negative way that we've started the season. While five at the back certainly helped us pick up the points necessary back in May, this season it has left the side exposed. The last minute tactical change against Man City is hopefully a lesson learned by the normally astute Wagner.
Cardiff is the perfect opportunity to kick start the start of the season, although Wagner has never won in a fixture against a Neil Warnock side. The welsh side, while not being the most talented, certainly come into the division organised an willing to fight, meaning Town must be at their best to take a much needed three points this weekend. Defeat would certainly leave us fearful of relegation, just three games into the season.
KNOW THE ENEMY
Throughout this season, Thrice Champions will be getting the views of opposition fans, bloggers and podcasters so you know the story behind the club they know so much about.
Ahead of our home time against the number one team in Wales, we speak to Cardiff City fan site 'View from the Ninian' to get to know what we're up against at the weekend.
TC: Many people were surprised that Cardiff achieved automatic promotion last time out. What do you think this squad can achieve this season?
VFTN: You’re telling me! At the start of last season, we were even longshots for the playoffs, though most Cardiff fans would have been hopeful of making the top six. Warnock performed something of a miracle to get us promoted automatically - and he did so by getting us 90 points, a remarkably high total. I think most Cardiff fans would be delighted with a 17th place finish and a few surprises along the way. We aren’t being taken seriously - pundits seem to think we are already relegated and MOTD presenters can’t even get our player names right - but we’ve got a solid team spirit and some canny players in our squad. Safety is priority; anything beyond that is a bonus.
TC: How do you think the transfer window has gone? Have you brought in the added quality that will keep you up?
VFTN: If I was to rate the window out of 7, I’d give it a six. We signed players I’m very happy with - Murphy, Arter, Camarasa really did look top class against Newcastle - and Reid will score goals as he settles into the team and division. In terms of what we missed, we could have done with another striker. We’re already looking a little thin up there and we could have done with a player who’s going to get us 10 goals. Will it keep us up? We’re going to be solid at the back and I don’t think we’ll concede many - it’s just the scoring I worry about!
TC: There's a staggering six former Town players in your squad, although only one played at the weekend. One, Anthony Pilkington, is on his way out on loan and has seemingly fallen out with Neil Warnock. What's happened there?
VFTN: It’s hard to tell. To be fair to Pilks and Warnock, they’ve not let too much escape the club in terms of angry comments and the like. I like Pilks and think he’s been hard done by some what. He looked good when he played last year, scored a crucial goal up at Sheffield United and I thought he might have been good for the squad this year. Alas, he’ll end up back in the Championship and I hope he proves how good he is once again.
TC: Both sides will see this game as each others best chance for three points this season. How will you set up on Saturday?
VFTN: We’ve been playing a sort of 4-5-1 formation, with the two wingers pushing on to support Big Ken up top. I don’t think we’ll change this too dramatically. I’d like us to be a bit more adventurous in attack. Josh Murphy really had Newcastle worried last weekend and both their fullbacks could have been sent off for fouls on him. I just think we need to bring him into the game more.
TC: What would you say are Cardiff's weak points that could be exploited this weekend?
VFTN: Tough one. At the back, I wouldn’t say we are weak. We sometimes play a centre back at right back but Bruno is class in any position he plays in. Against Newcastle, we just didn’t hold the ball up enough at the top so we always seemed to be on the back foot. Perhaps that is going to be your best bet for goals?
TC: Long term, is Warnock the man to help you retain your place in the PL?
VFTN: I love the man and think he deserves the chance but I honestly can’t say either way. The Premier League is incredibly strong when you look at, say, the top six. But beyond that? Newcastle finished 10th last year and we more than matched them last weekend. I think Warnock has until November; if we’re out of the bottom three at that point, he’ll last the course. But I do think he’s an honest bloke and if he feels he can’t keep us up, he would step aside.
TC: What is your prediction for Saturday?
VFTN: I think it’s going to be a 1-1 draw. Our first Premier League goal and another penalty save for Neil Etheridge.