SATURDAY’S early kick-off in the Championship sees Cardiff City FC take on Brighton and Hove Albion in the Welsh capital.
The teams come into the fixture on the back of 0-0 draws and have been in good form, only losing once in each of their last five games.
Both managers will have a decision to make about whom to play upfront after fairly uninspiring 0-0 draws in their last games. Cardiff manager Russell Slade seems to be getting to grips with his new striking options, after loaning veteran striker Kenwyne Jones to Al Jazira and selling Joe Mason to Championship rivals Wolves during the January transfer window.
Slade will be facing his former team without forward Sammy Ameobi in his ranks following his red card against Charlton. The former Newcastle forward has struggled to make an impact following his summer move to the Bluebirds, scoring only one goal in 22 appearances.
His suspension could prove to be a blessing in disguise for the Bluebirds with both January signings Kenneth Zohore, and Lex Immers waiting for their chance to make an impact at the club. While Federico Macheda has failed to live up to his billing as a top marksman this season, with just six goals in 21 appearances, this is another option at Slade’s disposal and his pace could prove a problem against the ageing Liam Rosenior.
Despite Cardiff accumulating a modest return of 38 goals in their 31 league games so far this season, owner Vincent Tan has urged the team to start shooting more. Bringing any of these strikers into the starting line-up for the suspended Ameobi could satisfy Tan’s ambition to have at least 30 or 40 shots on target a game.
Brighton come into this fixture off the back of a respectable 0-0 draw against fellow promotion rivals Hull. After a disappointing 2014-15 season, where the team finished 20th and narrowly avoided relegation, the Seagulls are currently third and battling for automatic promotion.
This game looks like it will be a battle of the strikers, and it’s likely the losing manager will be criticised over which forward they leave out of the starting line-up.
Brighton and Hove manager Chris Hughton has a decision on whether youth or experience will partner leading goal scorer Tomer Hemed up front. Manchester United loanee James Wilson is available for selection following a two-match absence with a groin injury, while the seasoned striker Bobby Zamora is also available for selection.
Both teams will be happy with a point and I can’t see the game being a high-scoring affair, although I hope I’m proved wrong. Neither team will be willing to lose against promotion rivals so I’m going for a cagey 1-1, the same as the reverse fixture in October.