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Preview: Manchester City vs. Cardiff City - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Manchester City vs. Cardiff City - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole provides the team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Manchester City's home Premier League game with Cardiff City.
By , European Football Editor | 2mo

Manchester City will be looking to reclaim first position in the Premier League table when they welcome Cardiff City to the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night.

Liverpool returned to the summit with a win over Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, but the reigning champions would be back on top if they manage to overcome 18th-placed Cardiff.


Manchester City

It did appear that City would keep their spot at the top of the table heading into this match, with Liverpool drawing 1-1 with Tottenham in the latter stages of Sunday's clash at Anfield. A 90th-minute own goal from Toby Alderweireld, however, secured all three points for Liverpool and meant that the Reds would return to the summit.

City's destiny is in their own hands, however, as they have one game in hand over Jurgen Klopp's side. It is simple for the Citizens - win all seven of their remaining league matches and the title will be theirs once again.

Pep Guardiola's team have hardly missed a step in recent weeks, winning all 12 of their matches since suffering a 2-1 defeat at Newcastle United on January 29. City have already secured the EFL Cup this season but are very much chasing a quadruple, which would represent a stunning campaign.

Indeed, City will face Brighton & Hove Albion in the semi-finals of the FA Cup this weekend, while Tottenham are their opponents in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

The Citizens simply cannot afford to take their eye off the ball in the league, however, due to Liverpool's staying power. Guardiola's side have won their last seven in England's top flight and were incredibly comfortable at the weekend as two first-half goals moved them past Fulham.

In terms of the league, City will face Cardiff before travelling to Crystal Palace. Then come back-to-back matches against Tottenham and Manchester United, before ending April with a trip to Burnley. May, meanwhile, will bring their last two fixtures at home to Leicester City and away to Brighton.

Liverpool have the easier run-in, but City have been here before. The reigning champions have won 15 of their 16 home league matches this term and will be the overwhelming favourites to beat Cardiff. The pressure will then be back on the Reds, who are next in action away to Southampton on Friday night.

There has never been a Premier League title race quite like this one and it will be absolutely fascinating to see what unfolds over the next month or so.

Recent form: WWWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWWW


Cardiff

There is no question that Cardiff will still be reeling from the injustice that surrounded their 2-1 defeat to Chelsea on Sunday afternoon. It did appear that Neil Warnock's side would be securing three huge points as they led in the latter stages of the clash with the capital outfit.

Cesar Azpilicueta equalised with an offside goal, however, before Ruben Loftus-Cheek came up with a late winner for the Blues. Warnock was inconsolable at the full-time whistle, and the head coach had every right to be disappointed with what occurred on the afternoon.

The Bluebirds simply cannot afford to dwell on the defeat, however, as they battle to remain in the top flight. As it stands, they are 18th in the table, five points behind 17th-placed Burnley but with a game in hand.

Eight wins, four draws and 19 defeats - that is how Cardiff have performed in the league this term. Only Huddersfield Town (18) have scored fewer goals than Warnock's side (28), while only Fulham (72) have conceded more (59), which is an indication of the Welsh outfit's troubles.

In terms of what is to come, Cardiff have a huge game away to Burnley this weekend, before visiting Brighton and welcoming Liverpool in their next two. The Bluebirds then go to Fulham on April 27 ahead of their final two games at home to Crystal Palace and away to United next month.

Whether Cardiff remain in the top flight this season is not going to depend on whether they pick up a result at the Etihad Stadium this week. It would probably be fair to say that they need to win at Burnley on Saturday, though, if they are to escape the bottom three come the end of the campaign.

Cardiff's away form this season, however, has been poor. Indeed, Warnock's team have won just two of their 14 away Premier League matches, scoring just nine times in the process.

There is certainly a fear that the visitors could take an absolute hiding on Wednesday night, which could really harm their confidence ahead of what is a vital next few weeks.

Recent form: WLLLWL


Team News

Sergio Aguero was forced off against Fulham with a muscular problem, but it is thought that the Argentine will be fit to lead the City attack on Wednesday night.

Benjamin Mendy and Fabian Delph will be absent for the home side, but Vincent Kompany could play a part after recovering from the problem that has forced him to miss the last three games.

Fernandinho could return to the XI having appeared off the bench against Fulham, meanwhile, and John Stones is also in line to feature against the Welsh side.

As for Cardiff, Warnock has threatened to play his Under-23 side on Wednesday night. While that is unlikely to be the case, it seems probable that changes will be made following the defeat to Chelsea.

Joe Ralls, Kenneth Zohore and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing could all come into the XI, while Bobby Reid is also an attacking option for the visitors to the Etihad Stadium.

Callum Paterson will miss the remainder of the season with an ankle injury, though, while the same can be said for Sol Bamba, who damaged his knee last month.

Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko; D Silva, Fernandinho, De Bruyne; B Silva, Aguero, Sterling

Cardiff possible starting lineup:
Etheridge; Peltier, Morrison, Manga, Bennett; Ralls, Arter; Mendez-Laing, Reid, Murphy; Zohore


Head To Head



Wednesday will bring the 52nd meeting between the two teams in all competitions. City lead the head-to-head 22 victories to Cardiff's nine, with the remaining 20 matches finishing level.

Cardiff won the first ever Premier League meeting between the two sides back in August 2013, but City have been victorious in the last two, including a 5-0 success in Wales earlier this season.


We say: Manchester City 4-0 Cardiff City



It is very, very difficult to predict anything other than a comfortable home win on Wednesday night. Guardiola's side simply cannot afford to drop points in pursuit of the title and it is difficult to imagine Cardiff causing a problem.






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