Cardiff v Newcastle
Premier League. Kick off 12.30pm, August 18th. Live on Sky Sports.
SATURDAY'S early kick off is a battle between two of the lesser spending sides in the Premier League this season, Having spent just under 50 million combined over the summer. Accordingly, this looks likely to be a game that could be short on quality and goals.
Cardiff City are the fourth team that manager Neil Warnock has guided to the top flight, and the Premier League could be in for a rough ride, as his side which is undoubtedly short of genuine quality will look to make things difficult for the opposition. In the Championship last season only Burton, who were relegated, Bolton and Millwall had a lower possession rate. Nobody played fewer passes, nobody completed fewer passes and nobody played fewer passes in the opposition half. Nobody won more aerial duels, nobody had more efforts on goal from set pieces, and only Bolton committed more fouls. That should give a decent indication of the style of play we're likely to see this season… its unlikely to be pretty.
They will be hoping new £1o million signing Bobby Reid from Bristol City can provide some firepower up front. 19 goals in 46 games was a decent return for him in the Championship last season, but how he copes with the step up in quality will be key. Josh Murphy is a prospect who joins from Norwich city, and his twin Jacob will be part of the Newcastle squad they face on Saturday. Harry Arter has also made a loan move from Bournemouth, and he will add some solid top flight experience to the midfield.
We have seen a typical summer from Newcastle United… fans and manager alike hoping for some serious investment in the squad which hasn't really materialised from owner Mike Ashley. They have spent in the region of £20 million reportedly, with some decent if unspectacular signings such as former Swansea City duo Federico Fernandez and Ki Sung Yeung as well as Japan striker Yoshinoro Muto. Newcastle's record signing remains Michael Owen for £16 million back in 2006. Considering the money floating around the Premier League these days, Benitez frustration is understandable.
I look at both squads and ask the question, where will the goals come from this season? who is capable of getting into double figures? Cardiff in particular i think will struggle to hurt teams at this level, and its likely to be a very brief Premier League adventure for the Bluebirds. Newcastle are in a similar position, i do however think they'll achieve a lower mid table finish, provided Rafa Benitez remains in charge. With the focus on Saturday, i don't expect it to be a thriller.