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Weblog: The football punter

Cardiff could hold firm against vulnerable favourites

 

BT Sport 1, 5.30pm Saturday
Bournemouth’s wretched away record is ordinarily grounds alone for opposing the Cherries whenever they set foot outside Dorset, but you can understand why they – and plenty of punters – fancy their chances of a fourth away win of the campaign at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Bournemouth cross the Severn Bridge buzzing after a remarkable 4-0 triumph over Chelsea on Wednesday night, a second successive home win to nil which has got them back on track after a sticky period.

They are eight places and 14 points better off than Neil Warnock’s charges, who have managed to score only two injury-time goals in their last seven matches.

Then, of course, there are the emotions of the day as Cardiff’s players, staff and fans gather at home for the first time since the plane carrying new signing Emiliano Sala disappeared over the Channel.

Bournemouth are clear favourites but it could be tighter than the betting suggests and the stalemate is a tempting price at 5-2.

Cardiff’s record against the big six this season is dreadful – played six, lost six with a goal difference of minus 21.

Against the rest of the Premier League, though, they aren’t regularly outclassed. Their record against the other top-flight sides is played 18, won five, drawn four, lost nine with a goal difference of minus five.

Since Christmas they’ve held Crystal Palace and Huddersfield to draws and won 1-0 at Leicester. They are in 18th place in the table and four points away from safety because their rivals all seem to be improving at the same time.

Yet they should be seriously heartened by what they did at Arsenal on Tuesday night, when they lost 2-1 despite firing off 19 shots. Had Arsenal’s forwards been presented with the chances that Oumar Niasse and Bobby Reid had, the scoreline could have been anything.

New signing Niasse and Reid looked a promising partnership and they should get opportunities because Bournemouth are a side who give up chances. The table says they are much better than Cardiff yet they’ve shipped only four fewer goals. Away from home only Fulham have conceded more.

And that away record is a real head-scratcher for Eddie Howe. The Cherries have lost their last seven in a row on the road while only three teams have accrued fewer away points than them.

They still look a threat in attack even without ten-goal top scorer Callum Wilson, who is crocked. And they do try to play the same way, home or away, which helps to explain why they sustain the odd battering on their travels.

Recommendation
Draw 1pt

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Match in Focus

17:30 TODAY SKY

Man City v Tottenham

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • City scored in the opening half of 16 of their 19 home league games last term
Expert verdict
Manchester City beat Tottenham in three of their four meetings last term and an early season duel at the Etihad should see the Citizens uphold the form. Spurs supporters may feel they won 2018-19’s most crucial clash – the 1-0 first-leg victory at their new stadium that saw the Lilywhites advance into the Champions League semi-finals at the expense of Pep Guardiola’s men. But while Guardiola has yet to crack the code in Europe with City, his team have barely put a foot wrong domestically. Fast starts against Liverpool in the Community Shield and at West Ham suggest they will look to seize the early initiative.