English Premier League, Week 5
Having begun the season in perfect fashion, Chelsea welcome Cardiff City to Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon, the home side hoping to extend Maurizio Sarri’s record to five wins from five as the Italian boss begins to imprint his style upon them.
The Blues also boast a 100% record against the Welsh side this century after winning all three encounters, while they have also lost just once in their previous 51 home games against newly promoted sides. Added to those formidable historical statistics are some impressive current ones, Sarri’s men completing more passes (2677) than any other side in the division, a number that represents just how the new boss is asking them to play.
Bringing the best from Pedro, Marcos Alonso and, of course, his former Napoli star Jorginho, Sarri has very few injury worries in the build up to this game. Gary Cahill Cesc Fabregas remain sidelined, but neither looks anywhere near breaking into the Coach’s plans, while promising midfielder Marco van Ginkel will also likely miss out once again.
That is likely to see Sarri retain the same starting XI as in his previous game, while his opposite number has a few issues of his own to address. Neil Warnock will be set to miss the services of winger Nathaniel Mendez-Laing for this fixture, while Icelandic midfielder Aron Gunnarsson is still recovering from a knee injury.
As usual however, it is not on the field where the Cardiff boss has problems, but away from it where both his managerial style and his abrasive comments to the press have been widely criticised. Claiming that defender Sol Bamba is better than Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk was a bold proclamation, particularly given that Warnock has seen his side concede six goals in their last two outings.
With a 3-1 loss to Norwich and a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Arsenal, Cardiff come into this clash in poor form, one of just five Premier League teams still searching for their first win of 2018/19 while also failing to score in three of their four matches to date. That makes it difficult to see beyond another comfortable victory for Sarri and Chelsea, something they’re already getting used to.
Cardiff City (4-4-2): Etheridge; Ecuele Manga, Morrison, Bamba, Bennett; Camarasa, Arter, Ralls, Hoilett; Reid, Ward
Chelsea (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, David Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic, Pedro, Morata, Hazard
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