Cardiff City’s return to the Premier League did not get off to the ideal start as Neil Warnock’s side suffered a 2-0 defeat against Bournemouth.
The Bluebirds fell behind to Ryan Fraser’s first-half effort, saw goalkeeper Neil Etheridge superbly save a penalty and improved after the break – but Callum Wilson’s strike ensured that the visitors would head back to Wales empty handed.
It proves the newly-promoted side have plenty to learn in their return to the Premier League and we have identified three key things from the game.
In true Neil Warnock fashion, Cardiff played extremely direct throughout the game as they pumped the ball forward – often quickly after winning back possession as they looked to exploit Bournemouth on the counter-attack.
A positive is that there were spells in the match where the Bluebirds looked dangerous and had Bournemouth on the back foot but there was a severe lack of creativity in the side, with not enough support in the final third.
Asmir Begovic between the ticks for the hosts did not have a lot to do at all and there is something that needs to be improved in the weeks to come.
Building on the previous point, the style of player from Cardiff saw new signing Bobby Reid feeding on scraps for the majority of the game as his team-mates struggled to feed inviting balls through to the new striker.
It is all very well signing a player who hit 17 in the league last season but you have to provide him with chances. Cardiff will hope that the link-up between Reid and the rest of the squad improves as the season progresses but they may need to go back to the drawing board.
To be fair though, Reid did look bright in spells and certainly had Bournemouth worried – which at least gives them something to build upon.
“They are an established team in the Premier League and we could have got a result here on another day. We’re looking forward to the season and a few lads were a bit nervous but once that rubbed off, it was okay.”
More to come
A victory for Bournemouth yesterday was probably a fair reflection on the match but it was not as comfortable as the scoreline may suggest, with Cardiff looking a lot more threatening in the second half of the game.
The Bluebirds also started strongly in the match, stretching the Bournemouth defence, but were unable to maintain that pressure throughout the match – although it does show that there is still a lot more to come from Neil Warnock’s side.
Add to the fact that new signings Harry Arter, Greg Cunningham, Alex Smithies and Victor Camarasa did not feature, with Josh Murphy only earning a cameo of the bench, and it is clear that Cardiff have a lot more to offer.
One winner, one loser from Cardiff’s defeat to Bournemouth
The Bluebirds were left empty-handed in their Premier League return.
Life back in the Premier League did not go the way Cardiff City intended, as they fell to a 2-0 defeat against Bournemouth.
The Bluebirds are looking to improve significantly on their performance from the last time when they were in the top-flight, where they finished rock-bottom in 2013-14 and lost 22 of their 38 matches, but improvements are needed.
Neil Warnock’s side now have a week to prepare for their hosting of Newcastle next weekend and have plenty to talk about from the game. Here, we have identified one winner and one loser from the game.
Winner: Neil Etheridge
The first Filipino to play in the Premier League, Neil Etheridge also se-cured another notable stat as he became the first goalkeeper to save a penalty on his debut in the competition since Allan McGregor for Hull City against Chelsea in 2013.
Etheridge’s save to deny Callum Wilson from the spot was superb, getting down quickly to his left and providing a strong palm to scoop the effort away, but it also came in a crucial period of the match. Had that gone in, the result would have quickly got beyond the reach of his side.
Instead, Cardiff improved significantly in the second period and gave Bournemouth a real run for their money. Unfortunately, it was not to be today but Etheridge can hold his head high following the performance.
Loser: Bobby Reid
It may seem a bit harsh to pick out a new striker on his Premier League debut in a feature like this but Bobby Reid’s selection is more down to the disappointing support from those around him than the performance of the striker himself.
Reid, at times, looked bright and caused Bournemouth some problems. However, the forward who hit 17 in the league last season, and signed for the Bluebirds for a £10 million fee, was left feeding on scraps and never really had the opportunity to test Asmir Begovic between the sticks for the Cherries.
His relationship with the players around him should improve as the campaign progresses and Reid did enough to provide some optimism but there is clearly some work to do on the training ground.
One winner and loser as Cardiff swoop in on season-long loan for Harry Arter
It’s looking like Cardiff boss Neil Warnock will get the midfielder he’s been desperate for on deadline day.
Manager Neil Warnock had prioritised the midfield as an area for his side to improve on before the transfer window closes and it looks like the Cardiff boss will have his wish granted with the arrival of Arter.
Cardiff will begin their 2018/19 Premier League campaign this Saturday afternoon against Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
Winner – Cardiff’s midfield options
The arrival of Arter will be welcomed by many at the Cardiff City Stadium, and there’s certainly room for improvement for Warnock’s side heading into the new season.
The Bournemouth man is a terrific talent and was unfortunate not to see more game time for the Cherries last season. However, Warnock will in no doubt give the experienced 28-year-old a chance to play week in, week out.
On a day where Warnock expressed his midfield as his priority, Harry Arter seems like the perfect deadline day signing to get things going ahead of the new campaign.
Loser – Marko Grujic
Grujic enjoyed a terrific spell with Cardiff last season in the Championship while on loan from Liverpool and for the majority of this summers transfer window it looked likely the Serbian midfielder would join Warnock’s ranks on loan again.
However, according to the Liverpool Echo, Grujic turned down the chance to go back to the Cardiff City Stadium to instead fight for minutes at Anfield this season.
It will be a tough ask for Grujic to get some playing time at Anfield this season with the calibre of player they’ve brought in to their midfield this summer, and maybe the Serbian international has made a mistake by not taking Cardiff up on their offer of another season-long deal.
It remains to be seen whether or not Grujic will feature for Jurgen Klopp’s side this season. However, it’s highly unlikely he will.
One in, one out: The Deadline Day deals Cardiff City should prioritise
Cardiff City are not fancied by many to avoid relegation and further additions are needed on deadline day to achieve that. Their business so far has been centred on talented Championship players such as Bobby Reid and Josh Murphy.
Neil Warnock must now focus on bringing in proven Premier League experience to supplement his hard-working squad. There must be a focus on attacking reinforcements. Last season, their top scorer was Junior Hoilett with 11. A reliable goal-scorer should be sought on deadline day.
Meanwhile, there are some in the current squad that aren’t good enough for the Premier League. One or two departures may be required to provide balance.
Below we discuss one player that Cardiff should sign and one that they should sell.
Sign Danny Ings
It has been clear all summer that Danny Ings doesn’t have a future at Liverpool. The Reds are developing into title contenders and the English striker doesn’t have the talent to break into their first team.
After the injury problems he has had, he needs to be playing regular first-team football to prove his fitness and ability. He has scored only one Premier League goal in the last two seasons, but he hasn’t been helped by only 265 minutes on the field.
Cardiff would be taking a risk on the striker, but he showed before with Burnley that he can do well at this level. He scored 11 times during the 2014/15 season in an unfancied team.
A move to Wales would provide a similar challenge and he may thrive as a result. It would be unwise to spend big money, but a loan move could suit all parties.
Sell Lee Tomlin
The 29-year-old has dazzled in the Championship throughout his career, but he isn’t good enough to contribute in the Premier League. The doubts over his consistency, work rate and fitness mean that he would be a hindrance to Cardiff this season.
However, in the Championship, he has the ability to be a match-winner and there will be teams interested in taking him either permanently or on loan.
This would be in the best interests of the club as it would prevent the possibility of Tomlin having a negative impact on the training ground.
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