Cardiff City vs. Forest preview..

I have this habit of over-estimating Cardiff in recent years – and I’m hoping that habit continues, because I think a trip to their ground is a daunting prospect.  An overtly talented squad at their disposal last year did have the considerable drag factor of manager Dave Jones to counterweight it, whilst now a more sensibly assembled collection of players is enhanced by the undeniable talent of Malky Mackay at the helm.

The Bluebirds are on a very good run of form too – unbeaten in seven, and have only lost once at home all season to a then-in-form Brighton.  They find themselves, as they have tended to over recent seasons, firmly ensconced in the play-off mix -but with designs on the automatic promotion spaces too.  Of course, since the removal of Schteve and the arrival of Steve we’re on a much healthier run ourselves – but well, if I’m honest a draw would be delightful if I were offered it right now.

Following the weekend’s last-gap victory over Ipswich Town we don’t have any fresh injury concerns – in fact, quite the opposite.  Paul Anderson obviously made a substitute appearance in our last game, and we are further boosted by news that Dexter Blackstock – injured a little over a year ago ironically at Cardiff, Garath McCleary and George Boateng are all potential options for Steve Cotterill having got some game time this week in a friendly.

It’s probably too soon for Dex, George and Garath – but it’s an option and it’s good to start to see us approximate a full squad for the new gaffer to choose from.  Our hosts are unsure over the fitness of Hudson in defence who missed their last game at Coventry with a groin injury.  Also of undoubted interest will be whether former Red Robbie Earnshaw will get a run out against us – he was on the bench in their last game.

In an über-historical look Cardiff actually considerably have the better of us – we’ve won 12 out of 40 league clashes whilst they’ve notched 18 league wins against us – ten games ending in draws.  In more recent history they’ve failed to beat us in our last four meetings – we of course did the double over them last season, whilst the season before both games finished all square between us.

Whilst it sounds a bit downbeat and – as ever when I’m a bit pessimistic – I would be delighted to be proven wrong, it feels to me like this fixture will be Cardiff’s chance to reverse that recent trend.  I expect the Reds to line up conservatively and look to soak pressure, spoil the hosts attacking play and try to profit from the occasional break or set-piece.  The danger being of course that we will need to defend well and concentrate.

Risky strategy – even with a much improved era under Mr Cotterill we still look susceptible to defensive lapses.  I do think it’s the sensible approach for the game though, and I trust the gaffer to have prepared the players and his tactics to match Cardiff as best he can.  But just looking at the combination of form, balance and individual talent in the squads it’s difficult to imagine how we can prevail easily.  I hope I’m wrong!