Paul Merson has been taking a look at the Cardiff v Newcastle clash on Saturday.
With both teams losing their opening games it only adds to the pressure.
Plus with promoted Cardiff the bookies favourite to go back down, and Newcastle making the biggest transfer profit this summer rather than showing ambition, Paul Merson says ‘This is a massive football match’ even though we are only one week into the season.
Looking at Cardiff City, it is very difficult to see them do anything but struggle this season.
Remarkably, despite getting automatic promotion last season, their top goalscorer only managed 10 goals. That was midfielder Callum Paterson, who was then followed by striker Zohore and winger Hoillett who got nine each.
Zohore missed their defeat at Bournemouth and as the main striker, Cardiff fans will hope he is back tomorrow.
Whilst Cardiff had a net spend £50m higher than Newcastle’s this summer, that isn’t saying much. Whilst Fulham and Wolves have looked to try and buy much higher quality this summer, especially in attacking areas, Cardiff’s biggest buy was £12m winger Josh Murphy.
With no big striker purchase in the summer, it is hard to see them being big goalscorers this time around. Last season’s promotion was built largely on their defence, the best joint record with Wolves, only 39 conceded.
However, the 69 scored was easily the lowest of the top four second tier clubs.
Last week at Bournemouth they defended relatively ok but the better PL quality saw the home side comfortably win 2-0, minimal threat from Cardiff who had only one effort on target.
This could be a process repeated week after week for the Welsh side, resolute defending but still conceding and losing against better quality attacks in the top tier.
Cardiff relied a lot on their home form last season with 16 wins and 4 draws, only 3 defeats, 52 points in total, compared to 38 points (11 wins, 5 draws and 7 defeats) away.
A balancing act for Rafa Benitez.
A nightmare if Cardiff did score first as that would give them something to hold onto but Newcastle have to surely attack this game and do everything possible to get the three points.
Question is, have Newcastle United got that extra PL quality going forward, that can beat a resolute Cardiff defence and potentially dominate against Warnock’s team?
Paul Merson has gone for a 1-1 draw and indeed pretty much all the pundits are going for this middle of the road prediction. I have a feeling though that both managers won’t be seeing that as any kind of ideal result or one they would settle for in advance.
Paul Merson talking to Sky Sports:
“This is a massive football match, even so early in the season.
“Cardiff failed to score at Bournemouth, who let in goals for fun, but I think this will be a hard game for Newcastle.
“Newcastle lost at home to Tottenham and they need to make sure they don’t lose this one, too.
“Prediction is Cardiff 1 Newcastle 1.”
Cardiff v Newcastle Match Betting:
All Cardiff v Newcastle betting HERE