City’s win­ners and losers af­ter their tough start

South Wales Echo - - Sport - DO­MINIC BOOTH Foot­ball writer do­minic.booth@waleson­

CARDIFF City fans may not be feel­ing too pos­i­tive as we en­ter the sec­ond in­ter­na­tional break of the sea­son, but there’s no doubt this Premier League cam­paign has al­ready had a fair amount of ups and downs.

From a des­per­ate de­feat to Burn­ley to close calls against the big teams, Neil Warnock’s side can count them­selves fairly un­lucky to sit bot­tom of the ta­ble af­ter eight games.

But who have been the win­ners and the losers from the sea­son so far?

WIN­NERS Neil Etheridge

Tak­ing the Premier League storm with penalty saves in his first two ap­pear­ances in the top flight, Etheridge has come a long way since his League One days with Wal­sall.

The goal­keeper has been Cardiff’s most con­sis­tent per­former so far this sea­son, putting to bed any de­bate over who might be­come the Blue­birds’ No.1 be­tween the posts (more on Alex Smithies later).

Etheridge may have been at fault for one of the goals in Cardiff’s 2-1 home de­feat to Burn­ley , but oth­er­wise he’s adapted bet­ter than any of their play­ers to the top flight’s rigours.

Dead­line day loan sign­ings

Warnock made a fan­tas­tic point be­fore the Spurs game: “Where would we be with­out those two?” – re­fer­ring to Vic­tor Ca­ma­rasa and Harry Arter. How right he is. The loan duo have be­come vi­tal to the Blue­birds’ en­gine room in no time, Arter’s tenac­ity and Ca­ma­rasa’s class prov­ing a de­cent com­bi­na­tion.

Arter has en­deared him­self to the Blue­birds faith­ful with some crunch­ing tack­les and will­ing run­ning, while Ca­ma­rasa’s ball-play­ing skills have been very wel­come. Warnock just needs to find the mid­field blend to al­low them both to shine.


Grudg­ingly, you have to ad­mit the ref­er­ees have got most of the big calls right in Cardiff games this sea­son.

Both Isaac Hay­den and Jonathan Hogg rightly saw red for of­fences against the Blue­birds, while you can­not re­ally ar­gue with any of the penalty calls given against Cardiff.

The games against New­cas­tle and Bournemouth saw cor­rect spot-kick de­ci­sions given, the same when Sol Bamba fouled Wil­lian at Chelsea.

Warnock may rail against the Joe Ralls red card , but the of­fi­cials seem to be do­ing a com­pe­tent job.

The Cardiff City fans

In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with WalesOn­line last week, Warnock called the Blue­birds fans his big­gest drive this sea­son, say­ing: “We might not be num­ber one, but I know our fans are.” He cited the in­cred­i­ble sup­port of the trav­el­ling ‘Barmy Army’ at Stam­ford Bridge, not to men­tion crowds of more than 30,000 for ev­ery Cardiff home game.

If Warnock’s men are to have a chance of staving off rel­e­ga­tion, they will need that sup­port all sea­son long. It’s been noth­ing short of sen­sa­tional.

LOSERS Ken­neth Zo­hore

Can the old Ken­neth Zo­hore please stand up?

Cardiff’s fail­ure to land a striker in the sum­mer started as a mi­nor worry, but is now a press­ing is­sue that’s been ex­ac­er­bated by the fail­ure of any cur­rent in­cum­bents to find any­thing close to form.

Zo­hore ap­pears well short of his best, un­able to bully the New­cas­tle or Hud­der­s­field de­fences in his usual fash­ion and now way down Warnock’s peck­ing order.

Danny Ward has had a go, Gary Ma­dine is not fan­cied and the fact Cal­lum Paterson now ap­pears to be Cardiff’s first choice striker shows how badly they’re miss­ing an in-form Zo­hore.

Harry Arter’s dis­ci­plinary record

Four yellow cards al­ready.

This is the only con­cern when it comes to Arter, es­pe­cially with Ralls sus­pended now for the next three games. Warnock needs to rein in the on-loan Bournemouth star.

Cardiff’s de­fence

Warnock has in­sisted he’s not too un­happy with his team’s for­ward play, nor their per­for­mances.

But ma­jor lapses at the back cost the Blue­birds dearly against Burn­ley to Warnock’s frus­tra­tion, while they could have done bet­ter against Arse­nal and Chelsea too. It’s par­tic­u­larly odd to see Cardiff con­cede goals Mustafi for Arse­nal, Ota­mendi for Man City, Dier for Spurs – from set-pieces.

The two-week break will hope­fully give Warnock’s staff the chance to erad­i­cate such is­sues.

Cardiff were renowned for their cast-iron de­fence in the Cham­pi­onship. That rep­u­ta­tion needs to re­turn.

Alex Smithies

Alex Smithies, re­mem­ber him? The goal­keeper signed in the sum­mer, who has not even been on Cardiff’s bench for a few weeks now.

Warnock has se­lected Brian Mur­phy as his sub­sti­tute goal­keeper for the past five games -- ever since an un­con­vinc­ing per­for­mance from Smithies in the Carabao Cup against Nor­wich.

It leaves the former QPR goal­keeper in limbo un­til Jan­uary pre­sum­ably, with Etheridge com­mit­ted to Asia Cup duty in the New Year. Even then, based on re­cent events, Smithies may not get a shot.

Neil Etheridge, Ken­neth Zo­hore (top right) and Harry Arter have en­joyed mixed for­tunes this term

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