Follow us on Twitter @claretandview // Words by Mark Jirobe (@VillaMarkPGH)
Aston Villa go away to Cardiff in their second game of the EFL Championship season with a bit of a feeling they very well might have trouble in this contest.
Neil Warnock managing Cardiff is a sign of the obvious. The way he commands his team to give 100% will undoubtedly come into play early and often against Villa. Warnock was appointed Cardiff City manager in early October of last season. Since taking the helm, Warnock has a pretty decent record at the Cardiff City Stadium. If Villa are to take home all three points, it would be a massive step in the direction of putting to bed the problematic woes Aston Villa had last year on the road.
More should be talked about when it comes to Danish striker Kenneth Zohore. Zohore had a nice goal for Cardiff City in their lone league game so far this season against Burton Albion. This makes 9 goals in 24 appearances for Cardiff, going back to last season. With that in mind, he also has created 23 chances in the same amount of time. The Aston Villa back-line will need to keep the 23 year old in check the entire game if he gets the starting nod from Neil Warnock.
Aston Villa will also be keen to be on the lookout for Icelandic midfielder Aron Gunnarsson. Gunnarsson picked up Man Of The Match in the lone Championship game for Cardiff City. He is the true definition of a player who is very able, intelligent and definitely a footballer you could build an ‘engine room’ mentality around. Not typically known for his goal scoring ability, Gunnarsson does have something in his locker that is becoming more prevalent in the modern game. He has an innate ability to make things happen from long throw-in opportunities. This comes from being adept at handball as a youth, and it would be a good bet to see his throwing ability on display against Villa.
Cardiff defender and club captain Sean Morrison will also have a part to play against Villa. The Englishman had 44 apps for Cardiff last campaign, and has already featured in their only league game with Burton and EFL Cup game against Portsmouth. Morrison carries with him a 60% pass completion rate from last season, and will do himself justice by continuing his smart and stable play at the back. If the strikers of Villa are to put a ball behind the Cardiff keeper, they will have to unfortunately go through Morrison first. His 5 Man Of The Match games last year is also something to hang a hat on.
The one positive for Aston Villa in this specific contest is that they employ strikers and midfielders who like to shoot the moment they see an open opportunity and cause a bit of trouble. An alarming 15 goals went past a Cardiff keeper last campaign from outside of the box, and with no real stand-out signings in defence in the transfer window for Cardiff, Villa would be smart to try and employ a ‘shoot often’ mentality. The tactics employed by Steve Bruce so far utilises using both wings as an outlet to place the ball into the box. This also could very well work for Villa, as their wingers have a decent amount of pace and that has been a problem for Cardiff for a few seasons now. Villa must be careful not to fall into Neil Warnocks’ trap of forcing the opposition into slow, build-up possession play. If Adomah and Elmohamady get selected in the Aston Villa side, it could very well be a long day for the Cardiff City defence if both Villa wide men can get their pace going into the offensive side of the pitch.