This week might be the one set aside for the fifth round of the FA Cup but the Sky Bet Championship season continues the attempt to catch up from the Covid issues earlier in the campaign when Cardiff City host Derby County on Tuesday evening.
This is a big match at the bottom end of the table. Cardiff have eased themselves away from immediate danger in recent times but are anything but safe in the table. Derby are in deep schtum on and off the pitch and really need something from this one.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live and in full on the Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football channels with the build-up beginning at 7.30pm ahead of the 7.45pm kick off.
I think it is fair to say that this is not the season Cardiff City would have been expecting after the way they finished the previous campaign where they so nearly gatecrashed the play-off places with a late run. This term has been one of inconsistency and not being able to get going. The sacking of Mick McCarthy was probably a necessary one but it is hard to argue that the appointment of Steve Morison has had a huge impact overall with them still occupying a place in the bottom five in the table and looking over their shoulder rather than in front of them.
Towards the end of January and into February Cardiff did go on a run of winning four out of five matches, which includes victories over Nottingham Forest and Coventry City, but they have failed to win any of their last three outings, although the last two were to Huddersfield Town and Fulham who are two of the form horses in the league right now so perhaps they can be excused in those. One positive under Morison is the Bluebirds are conceding fewer goals now. Earlier in the campaign they were leaking like a sieve.
The Rams’ off field issues has led to them being in the perilous position they are in heading into this match. On the pitch they sit second bottom in the table after the force of their 21-point deduction was felt. They are eight points from safety with 12 games left and probably need at least another 20 points from those matches to give themselves any chance of staying up. Worryingly though the EFL issued a statement on Monday demanding a preferred bidder for the club and the longer it takes to announce that the more you worry for the existence of Derby.
After getting themselves right back in the survival shake up, Derby have now lost three of their last four matches. Their away form has been the problem. They have only managed to win twice on their travels all season and it goes without saying that if they are to be a Championship club next term then they are going to have to find a way to win matches away from Pride Park. I saw them with my own eyes on Saturday and they looked to be lacking creativity without Tom Lawrence.
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Cardiff City had a few issues from a personnel point of view going into their loss to Fulham at the weekend with an illness in the camp, but they weren’t too weak on paper. The situation is expected to have improved since then.
Derby County remain without their captain Tom Lawrence who continues to serve his suspension. Luke Plange came off the bench late on at Kenilworth Road and he could be in line to replace Colin Kazim-Richards in the starting XI.
I would be surprised if we get a classic contest here because for both teams it is all about winning the match. Cardiff City can as good as secure their safety with a win here whereas Derby know they have to get winning football matches and they need to do it soon if they are going to keep their survival bid alive. We are at that stage of the season where the result for both these sides means a lot more than the performance.
I think Cardiff are the ones to be on here though. I wouldn’t say they are anything special per se but Fulham were the first team in five to win in this part of Wales at the weekend and I think that is significant. Derby just can’t seem to get anything going on their travels and we must be nearing the time where desperation begins to loom in their play in terms of having to force things in order to get a result which would potentially leave themselves exposed. Cardiff don’t need to play that way and that might be the difference here.
Back Cardiff City to beat Derby County for a 3/10 stake at 2.05 with Coral
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