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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Big Match Preview

Cardiff City vs. Bristol City
Sunday August 23, 13:15, Cardiff City Stadium

You wouldn't be too far wrong describing this as the biggest game at Cardiff City's ground. Then again, this being just the second game at the club's new 22,000 capacity arena, that's not too risky a statement to make.

However, as the cities of Cardiff and Bristol prepare to do battle in the Severnside derby, both sides know this season there's more than local bragging rights at stake. Three games in and the Bluebirds and the Robins are flying high.

It's been an excellent start to the season for Dave Jones' side. Cardiff missed out on the play-offs by virtue of scoring one goal fewer than Preston last season. And, allied to having to settle into a new stadium, and many observers expected a bit of a hangover effect and for them to get off to a slow start.

A thumping 4-0 opening day win over Scunthorpe, followed by a point at Blackpool and away win at Plymouth in midweek, and the Welsh club top the table at this early stage.

Striker Michael Chopra, signed on a permanent basis in the summer, scored a hat-trick in that game at Home Park, and has already bagged six goals this term. Along with the attacking power of Jay Bothroyd, Joe Ledley, and Ross McCormack, and it's no surprise why Cardiff have been tipped to do so well this season.

A new era for Cardiff: City's new 22,000 stadium

However, Sunday's game is likely to be their toughest examiniation of the season to date. Gary Johnson's visitors have also notched up seven points from their first three games, and also sit in the top six.

City squandered a two goal advantage late on to draw at Preston on the opening day, but have followed that up with two 1-0 home successes over Crystal Palace and QPR.

The first of those, of course, featured the highly controversial refereeing decision where a clear Palace goal was missed by all the officials. Nicky Maynard's goal at the death eventually sealed the win for City, and with luck like that, perhaps this could be a good year for the Westcountry club.

Manager Johnson has been operating with a 3-5-2 system that proved successful during pre-season and with Maynard and summer signing David Clarkson up front, along with former Celtic man Paul Hartley pulling the strings in midfield, Bristol will travel over the Severn confident of getting a result.

This game has the potential of being very exciting, with both sides liking to play attractive football with plenty of attacking power. It'd be very surprising if we don't see any goals, and this one could well end all even.

Nobes' Prediction: Cardiff City 2 Bristol City 2

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