CARDIFF City will be hoping to build on their morale-boosting win over Huddersfield when they face Aston Villa this weekend.
The Bluebirds put in an impressive performance on Saturday when they beat David Wagner’s high-flying Huddersfield, with first half goals from Sean Morrison, Junior Hoilett and Rickie Lambert putting the match to bed.
Neil Warnock’s side will face a tough test when they take on a rejuvenated Villa side under new manager Steve Bruce at a ground where they haven’t won since 1954.
Villa came away with a point against Brighton on Friday evening and they are unbeaten in the six matches since Bruce was appointed manager, following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo.
Cardiff are also in good form having taken 10 points from their last six matches and if it continues they can expect to pull away from the relegation places sooner rather than later.
Barring injuries, it is unlikely that Warnock will make many changes from the team that beat Huddersfield, especially after such an impressive performance.
Against Huddersfield, centre-backs Morrison and Sol Bamba were dominant in all departments against a pacy front-line and they will need to be on top form again this weekend.
Villa spent a total of £22m on strikers Jonathan Kodjia and Ross McCormack in the summer and even though they haven’t quite lived up to expectations this season, they still have the quality to cause Cardiff problems.
Lambert and Hoilett formed a good partnership up front for City against Huddersfield. Hoilett’s tireless work and ability to run with the ball at speed complemented Lambert’s hold-up play and strength in the air.
If Warnock keeps faith with the pair of them, they will have their work cut out. Defence is where Villa are at their strongest; they have the joint-fourth best defensive record in the league having only conceded 17 goals all season.
The game may well turn out to be a battle between two defensive midfielders. Aron Gunnarsson has won rich praise from Warnock since he took charge.
For Villa, Mile Jedinak has been pivotal in organising the defence and providing much needed leadership. The winner of the battle in midfield will play a key role in the outcome of the match.
Besides the poor run for City at Villa Park, the Bluebirds have not beaten the West Midlands club at all since December 1974.
Only four points separate the two teams and a win for Cardiff could both ease their relegation worries and raise hopes of a play-off push.