AFTER just two wins in their last six games, Cardiff City face a tough task at home on Saturday against a Brighton side flying high in the Championship.
A 3-1 defeat against Aston Villa at Villa Park last time out saw the Bluebirds slip into the relegation zone. They now sit 23rd in the table following Wigan’s surprise 2-1 win over Huddersfield Town on Monday.
The chasm between the two teams sees Cardiff sit second from bottom while Brighton lie just behind leaders Newcastle United and have their eyes fixed firmly on reaching the top spot.
Cardiff are 20 points behind their opponents and with Brighton having the second most productive attack in the league, there is a real danger that Cardiff’s leaky defence could ship yet more goals.
The Welsh side have conceded 30 goals in their 18 league games this season (with a goal difference of minus 12) and have not kept a clean sheet in the Championship since the opening day.
Much will rest on Sol Bamba, the Ivory Coast centre back who has brought great energy to the club since signing on a free transfer in October. He has impressed fans and pundits alike and was Cardiff’s best player in the defeat at Villa Park.
However, the 3-1 reverse highlights that Bamba can’t do it alone. Doubts persist over the rest of the defence and the performances of Sean Morrison and Joe Bennett against Aston Villa did little to reassure.
With full back Lee Peltier being suspended for this match after picking up a red card against Villa, Bluebirds boss Neil Warnock has a decision to make.
The quality of the Brighton attack puts even more pressure on that decision. Glenn Murray is joint-second on the top scorers list, with the veteran striker having scored 11 times this season.
Joining him in the Brighton attack is French winger Anthony Knockaert, a player who has terrorised Championship defences and has already found the net six times this season.
The Cardiff attack will also need to be more productive. Junior Hoilett continues to impress, looking dangerous whenever he plays. Rickie Lambert is also a threat and it is crucial that Cardiff feed these two forwards if they are to have any hope of scoring against a defence that has conceded only 11 goals this season.
The deck is stacked against the Bluebirds. Their struggles in defence are the biggest concern and you’d expect Brighton to take advantage. The Cardiff attack, which also has its issues, is also expected to struggle against Brighton’s formidable defence.
Saturday could be yet another low day in a troubled season for Cardiff but it is important to remember that this is just the latest in a tough run of fixtures, having faced three of the top six in recent weeks.
Over Christmas, Cardiff have a run of games against teams near them in the league, with matches against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Barnsley and Brentford before they end the month with the return trip to face The Seagulls away on December 30.
Just four points separate Cardiff in 23rd place and Brentford in 16th, so any points gained against the top sides are valuable. With that in mind a draw against Brighton, a team they have won once against in their last eight games, wouldn’t be such a bad result.