Cardiff City - Derby County (tuesday)

After very promising season start that announced a battle for promotion, Cardiff have now lost four of their last five Championship matches and have dropped out of the top six. All started with underestimation of Doncaster (0-2 on the road), then Newcastle (0-1 home), QPR (0-2 home) and last one vs. Sheff.Wed. (1-3 away). It’s symptomatic they conceded most of those goals in the opening period of the game, or the second half. Manager Dave Jones talks about inconsistency, more likely it’s lack of confidence. At last round they improved the performance, two goals for Cardiff were disallowed (public opinion is one was clear), big defensive errors, two goals at the start of both periods and one more defeat that caused alarms started ringing at City Stadium. So, if they want to keep their dream about promotion, have to wake up and stop the losing streak. Better opponent for that they probably couldn’t wish. Beside long time injured Ross McCormack and Kelvin Etuhu, boss Jones can not count on midfielder Joe Ledley who got a red card at Sheffield and unfit right-back Kevin McNaughton. Skipper Stephen McPhail returns in the squad.

Like the hosts, Derby also had a bad run of results with four consecutive defeats (Nottingham Forest, Sheffield United, Barnsley and Crystal Palace). Manager Nigel Clough is stubborn with his 5-4-1 formation that still hasn’t been well accepted from the players. Two started wins against clubs from the bottom side of the table (Peterborough and Plymouth) gave some hope for a bright future, but mentioned bad run brought the push the problems on the surface. In the previous round, they finally noticed all three points against Bristol City (1-0). Visitors from Bristol were at least equal 55 minutes, then defender Jamie McCombe got two yellow cards for two minutes. Rams started to dominate and thankfully to Gary Teale’s late strike noticed a win. However, team is consisted of mediocre players who shouldn’t be capable to achieve anything more than middle of the table. And some experienced players like Lee Hendrie and Paul Dickov haven’t brought anything positive. The Rams can get something from the games against bottom clubs, or sometimes to surprise “middle class”, but I doubt they can cause serious problems to the top Championship clubs (like raging Cardiff). New on-loan signing, Swedish defender Fredrik Stoor, will probably make his debut.

This is not a “to be or not to be” game for the hosts, but another failure would seriously shake their title ambitions. Following their statements to the press, it seems they’re all conscious of the situation and I expect the well response and convincing win. Pinnacle offer 1.92. Home win and handicap as a gamble.

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