Battling Bluebirds drop to bottom of Prem

Posted by Michael Morris

No one gave Cardiff a chance against Manchester City, and while it ended with a routine home win for the Citizens, the 4-2 scoreline offers Cardiff some hope that they can start getting positive results.

It's a worrying time for Cardiff as the club now sit in 20th place in the Premier League. The defeat at Man City was their third loss in a row and it's now zero wins in the last six games, five of them defeats and just one win in the last 12 matches.

- Report: Manchester City 4-2 Cardiff

With the next league game away at Manchester United, it might get worse before things will start to get better.

It's not quite crisis time; I'm not trying to be negative by highlighting the current position -- just realistic. I believe we have reasons to be optimistic.

Cardiff took part in an entertaining match against Manchester City and can take heart that they are only the second club to come away having scored more than one goal in a Premier League match at The Etihad. All eleven league visitors this season have perished with Arsenal managing to score three goals in a 6-3 defeat.

Manchester City started the day with 99 goals in all games this season. Their 100th came with a Premier League milestone. Edin Dzeko's scuffed effort just crossed the line before Kevin McNaughton cleared and the goal line technology system correctly alerted the referee that a goal should be awarded. That was the first time a goal scored decision has been confirmed by the new technology.

The build-up to the goal was controversial as David Silva appeared to handle the ball. The Cardiff defence all raised their arms to protest and it was that hesitation that allowed Dzeko the yard of space to get the crucial touch.

Those expecting the floodgates to open were made to think again when Cardiff equalised. A move down the right hand side that Man City would have been proud of was finished off by Craig Noone. A quality pass from Kevin Theopile Catherine was flicked into Noone's path by Aron Gunnarsson and the Cardiff winger calmly stepped inside Vincent Kompany before wrong-footing Joe Hart.

Cardiff might have given themselves a better chance of actually causing an upset if they had managed to keep the score level until halftime. Instead, Jesus Navas put Man City back in front just minutes after Noone's goal.

Cardiff kept the game close until two more Man City goals in the span of a few second half minutes. Yaya Toure showed his desire to win possession back from Noone and Toure ran three quarters of the length of the pitch to play a one- two off substitute Sergio Aguero before blasting past a helpless David Marshall.

Aguero then wrapped up the points when he turned Steven Caulker inside out before blasting another effort past Marshall.

Despite the game being out of reach of The Bluebirds, the team kept looking to attack. Noone played his best game for Cardiff as he made it an uncomfortable afternoon for Pablo Zabaleta. Apart from his goal, his first ever in the Premier League, Noone forced two excellent saves from Hart and impressed everyone with his pacey performance.

Fraizer Campbell scored a second goal for Cardiff in injury time. It was just a consolation goal but could be important for confidence. It was Campbell's third goal against Man City this season and all of them from corners. The two he scored at Cardiff City Stadium in August helped Cardiff to a 3-2 shock win.

The Cardiff side was improved with the return from injury of Jordon Mutch and I think Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will look to develop a stronger midfield with added pace. That may see the first of Solskjaer's signings Magnus Wolff Eikrem coming into the starting line-up ahead of Peter Whittingham. The return from injury of Craig Bellamy could also have a significant impact on Cardiff's attempts to improve their form.

Since Solskjaer took over 17 days ago, Cardiff have shown a greater desire to attack teams. Solskjaer watched the New Year's Day defeat at Arsenal and witnessed a rear guard action from Cardiff. He took charge the following day and since then has seen his side win at Newcastle in the FA Cup, lose unluckily to West Ham and give Man City a decent game scoring two goals.

The bottom eleven teams in the Premier League table are covered by just six points. Cardiff might be bottom but a team that puts two results together can see a significant improvement in their league position.

Once Cardiff get the away trip to Man United out of the way, they face Norwich, Swansea, Aston Villa and Hull City in February. All four teams are in the group of eleven that are congested at the bottom of the table and maybe, crucially for Cardiff, three of those games are at Cardiff City Stadium. Looking a bit further ahead Cardiff also have to face Fulham, Stoke and Crystal Palace at Cardiff City Stadium. It will be from those games that decide if Cardiff are going to be good enough to stay up.

If Solskjaer continues to play positive attacking football at home against teams that are nowhere near as good as Manchester City, Cardiff have a very good chance of keep themselves in the Premier League.


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