Cardiff City v Watford: the psychology and the predictions

Cardiff City are moderately placed in the home games league table

Home matches only

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 14 13 0 1 49 11 38 39
2 Liverpool 13 11 2 0 35 7 28 35
3 Arsenal 13 10 2 1 28 11 17 32
4 Chelsea 13 8 4 1 26 9 17 28
5 Tottenham Hotspur 13 9 0 4 24 12 12 27
6 Manchester United 12 7 4 1 25 16 9 25
7 AFC Bournemouth 13 7 3 3 25 17 8 24
8 Wolverhampton Wanderers 14 6 3 5 20 19 1 21
9 Everton 14 6 3 5 21 21 0 21
10 Watford 13 6 2 5 17 18 -1 20
11 Brighton and Hove Albion 13 5 4 4 16 15 1 19
12 West Ham United 13 5 3 5 18 19 -1 18
13 Cardiff City 13 5 2 6 15 23 -8 17

But they have lost more game at home than they have won, and their goal difference is particularly poor for a home team.

Watford away from home look more convincing and at this stage of the season that certainly can affect the psychology of the team.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Tottenham Hotspur 13 11 0 2 30 13 17 33
2 Liverpool 13 9 3 1 24 8 16 30
3 Manchester City 13 8 2 3 25 9 16 26
4 Manchester United 14 8 2 4 27 19 8 26
5 Chelsea 13 7 1 5 19 20 -1 22
6 Wolverhampton Wanderers 12 5 3 4 14 14 0 18
7 Arsenal 13 5 3 5 25 26 -1 18
8 Leicester City 14 5 3 6 18 21 -3 18
9 Watford 13 4 5 4 17 16 1 17

A positive goal difference (ok just +1 but still better than Cardiff at home) and a balance of wins and losses – four of each.

From the start of the year Cardiff have not had the best of times – there has of course been the terrible trauma of their attempted transfer which ended in a tragic plane crash – and on the pitch things have been difficult…

01 Jan 2019 Cardiff City v Tottenham Hotspur L 0-3
05 Jan 2019 Gillingham v Cardiff City FAC L 1-0
12 Jan 2019 Cardiff City v Huddersfield Town D 0-0
19 Jan 2019 Newcastle United v Cardiff City L 3-0
29 Jan 2019 Arsenal v Cardiff City L 2-1
02 Feb 2019 Cardiff City v AFC Bournemouth W 2-0
09 Feb 2019 Southampton v Cardiff City W 1-2

Watford on the other hand have had a much better run

02 Jan 2019 AFC Bournemouth v Watford D 3-3
06 Jan 2019 Woking v Watford FAC W 0-2
12 Jan 2019 Crystal Palace v Watford W 1-2
19 Jan 2019 Watford v Burnley D 0-0
26 Jan 2019 Newcastle United v Watford FAC W 0-2
30 Jan 2019 Tottenham Hotspur v Watford L 2-1
02 Feb 2019 Brighton and Hove Albion v Watford D 0-0
09 Feb 2019 Watford v Everton W 1-0
15 Feb 2019 Queens Park Rangers v Watford FAC W 0-1

Only one defeat in this run since the start of the new year, and that against high-flying Tottenham – otherwise it is progress both in the league and the cup.

True, the FA Cup run might well disrupt their focus a little, now that they are in the sixth round, but it should be noted that they are very much in the habit of not losing.  Cardiff on the other hand have lost four league matches and won just two.

But those two wins were the last two games played by Cardiff, beating Bournemouth and Southampton.  That will help Cardiff’s morale.

I suspect the best Cardiff can expect is a draw, and that they will be happy with that.  Cardiff have lost their last two games against Watford (one in the Championship, one in the Premier League) and so a draw will be an improvement.

Overall Cardiff are still possibles for relegation, so every point they can get could help – and with Southampton away to Arsenal (who have a very strong home record) it could help them pull one further point away from the bottom three.

Home and away

Pos P W D L F A GD Pts
16 Newcastle United 26 6 7 13 22 34 -12 25
17 Cardiff City 26 7 4 15 24 47 -23 25
18 Southampton 26 5 9 12 28 44 -16 24
19 Fulham 26 4 5 17 25 58 -33 17
20 Huddersfield Town 26 2 5 19 14 48 -34 11

I’ll go for a draw because of the boost of recent Cardiff results, but a decent Watford game could give them the victory by 1-2, as they must be feeling able to beat any team lower than them in the league.  The only thing that could disturb their psychology, is thoughts of the FA Cup.

Arsenal v Cardiff; the form, the injuries, the psychology, the predictions

Arsenal at home have remained a very solid team, exactly as they were last season…

Home games only

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 12 11 0 1 40 10 30 33
2 Liverpool 11 10 1 0 31 6 25 31
3 Arsenal 12 9 2 1 26 10 16 29
4 Chelsea 12 7 4 1 21 9 12 25
5 Manchester United 11 7 3 1 23 14 9 24

Cardiff away look to be in a desparate situation

Away games only

17 Brighton and Hove Albion 12 2 2 8 10 20 -10 8
18 Huddersfield Town 11 1 3 7 8 21 -13 6
19 Cardiff City 11 1 2 8 6 21 -15 5
20 Fulham 12 0 2 10 8 30 -22 2

When we look at recent form however Arsenal in January have two defeats

01 Jan 2019 Arsenal v Fulham W 4-1
05 Jan 2019 Blackpool v Arsenal FAC W 0-3
12 Jan 2019 West Ham United v Arsenal L 1-0
19 Jan 2019 Arsenal v Chelsea W 2-0
25 Jan 2019 Arsenal v Manchester United FAC L 1-3

Cardiff in January however have no wins

01 Jan 2019 Cardiff City v Tottenham Hotspur L 0-3
05 Jan 2019 Gillingham v Cardiff City FAC L 1-0
12 Jan 2019 Cardiff City v Huddersfield Town D 0-0
19 Jan 2019 Newcastle United v Cardiff City L 3-0
The FA Cup defeat of both teams has very different meanings – Arsenal were poor but playing a PL team in form.   Cardiff lost to Gillingham of League One.

Three wins two defeats for Arsenal and no wins three defeats and a drew to Cardiff tell Arsenal that no matter what they might feel about their poor performance against Manchester United they certainly are not in as bad a run of form as Cardiff.

Injuries show that Arsenal are now near the top of the league…

8

Liverpool

7

West Ham United

6

Arsenal

5

Newcastle United

Arsenal’s list of injuries prepared by Physioroom shows

PLAYER CONDITION EXPECTED RETURN NEWS
Sokratis Ankle Injury March 2, 2019 “Left ankle. Expected to return to full training by the end of February.”
L Koscielny Facial Injury No Return Date “Bruising and soft tissue swelling to face and jaw. Being reviewed on a daily basis.”
H Bellerin ACL Knee Injury No Return Date “Hector will undergo surgery to repair this in the coming days. The rehab process is expected to take between 6-9 nine months.”
H Mkhitaryan Metatarsal Fracture January 29, 2019 “Expected to return to full training in the next week.”
R Holding ACL Knee Injury No Return Date “He will undergo surgery to repair this in the coming days. The rehab process is expected to take between six to nine months” from the date of injury
D Welbeck Ankle Injury Out all season

So there is only one of those players possible to be available for the next game.

Cardiff  however have just tree players out but two could be back in the squad.

PLAYER CONDITION EXPECTED RETURN NEWS
S Morrison Appendicitis No Return Date “He had a procedure on Monday. I don’t think [he will play tomorrow], but if there’s any doubt I won’t play him anyway. We can’t gamble on anyone.”
H Arter Groin Strain January 29, 2019 “He tweaked his groin and we’re not sure what it is. It was one of them, although you want to play him, with 10 days until the next game you want to make sure you don’t aggravate anything.”
K Zohore Thigh Muscle Strain January 29, 2019 “He’ll be struggling to get back for next weekend. He might get on the bench.”

The psychology

Cardiff have had the humiliation of losing to a third tier team in the cup and they know they have to play well to get themselves out of trouble.  Arsenal might not be a top four team at the moment, but they are one of the six elite European clubs and even with multiple injuries can put up a fight.

Cardiff will try to deliver an early knock out blow to get the crowd with them.   Failing that it looks like Arsenal all the way.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 23 19 3 1 54 13 41 60
2 Manchester City 23 18 2 3 62 17 45 56
3 Tottenham Hotspur 23 17 0 6 48 23 25 51
4 Chelsea 23 14 5 4 40 19 21 47
5 Arsenal 23 13 5 5 48 32 16 44
6 Manchester United 23 13 5 5 46 33 13 44
7 Watford 23 9 6 8 32 32 0 33
8 Wolverhampton Wanderers 23 9 5 9 27 31 -4 32
9 Leicester City 23 9 4 10 29 29 0 31
10 West Ham United 23 9 4 10 30 34 -4 31
11 Everton 23 8 6 9 34 33 1 30
12 AFC Bournemouth 23 9 3 11 33 42 -9 30
13 Brighton and Hove Albion 23 7 5 11 25 32 -7 26
14 Crystal Palace 23 6 4 13 23 32 -9 22
15 Southampton 23 5 7 11 25 40 -15 22
16 Burnley 23 6 4 13 23 43 -20 22
17 Newcastle United 23 5 6 12 19 31 -12 21
18 Cardiff City 23 5 4 14 19 44 -25 19
19 Fulham 23 3 5 15 21 51 -30 14
20 Huddersfield Town 23 2 5 16 13 40 -27 11

If Arsenal hold on through the first half they could knock up another of their 4-1 wins.

Cardiff City v Tottenham Hotspur, the predictions

Tuesday 1 January 2019

  • 17:30 Cardiff City v Tottenham Hotspur
  • Referee: Kevin Friend
  • Assistants: Stuart Burt, Matthew Wilkes
  • Fourth official: Simon Hooper

The prediction we’ve thought might well come true with regards to Tottenham is that once they move to their new home stadium they will have a problem.   That’s nothing to do with Tottenham as such, but rather to do with the fact that most clubs on moving grounds have a problem.  It was a pattern that began in the 1990s with Middlesbrough moving and being relegated.  Stoke, Bolton, Derby, Sunderland, Wigan, Reading, Southampton, Hull, and Leicester all followed.

Of course not everyone goes down when they build a new ground – especially if they are funded from the public purse such as Manchester City and West Ham United; but it can happen.

This is not to say that Tottenham will end up being relegated next season, but it is a sign that moving ground can cause a bit of a wobble.

And I wonder if we have seen a little bit of that, even before the new stadium is opened, with Tottenham Hotspur.  Looing at their results of late what we see is…

02 Dec 2018 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur L 4-2
05 Dec 2018 Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton W 3-1
08 Dec 2018 Leicester City v Tottenham Hotspur W 0-2
15 Dec 2018 Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley W 1-0
23 Dec 2018 Everton v Tottenham Hotspur W 2-6
26 Dec 2018 Tottenham Hotspur v AFC Bournemouth W 5-0
29 Dec 2018 Tottenham Hotspur v Wolverhampton Wanderers L 1-3

A wonderful run of wins in the league (cup games have been omitted from the above) and then suddenly the wobble on 29 December, after scoring 11 goals in two games.  Of course I am not sure when the actual start date is for the new ground, but it must be sometime soon, surely.

For this game, Cardiff at home are not fairing well, but given their aspirations at the start of the year maybe that is to be expected…

This is the home table…

Club P W D L F A GD
Pts
9 AFC Bournemouth 10 5 2 3 16 14 2 17
10 Watford 11 5 1 5 16 18 -2 16
11 Leicester City 10 4 2 4 12 10 2 14
12 Wolverhampton Wanderers 10 4 2 4 12 13 -1 14
13 West Ham United 10 4 1 5 14 16 -2 13
14 Cardiff City 10 4 1 5 13 20 -7 13
15 Fulham 10 3 3 4 12 19 -7 12
16 Burnley 10 3 1 6 12 20 -8 10
17 Southampton 10 1 6 3 11 15 -4 9

Four wins one draw and five defeats so far at home, and they are facing Tottenham, whose away form seems to suggest that they are just relieved not to be playing at Wembley.  This is Tottenham’s away form…

1 Tottenham Hotspur 11 9 0 2 25 12 13 27
2 Liverpool 10 8 2 0 21 5 16 26
3 Chelsea 10 7 1 2 19 8 11 22
4 Manchester City 10 6 2 2 18 7 11 20

Nine wins, two defeats and scoring over two goals a game while letting in just one – that is quite something for an away form.

So can Tottenham pick themselves up after a home defeat?  Certainly if that away form is something they are very conscious of.

The biggest worry for Cardiff must be that their overall form in December could have been better…

04 Dec 2018 West Ham United v Cardiff City L 3-1
08 Dec 2018 Cardiff City v Southampton W 1-0
15 Dec 2018 Watford v Cardiff City L 3-2
22 Dec 2018 Cardiff City v Manchester United L 1-5
26 Dec 2018 Crystal Palace v Cardiff City D 0-0
29 Dec 2018 Leicester City v Cardiff City W 0-1

Just two wins to report, both by 1-0, both against teams that looked possibles for defeat.

If Cardiff were to win, that would certainly put the worries into the Tottenham camp just before the move away from Wembley.  But for the moment I’ll go with a 0-2 to Tottenham.