Cardiff v Fulham
Friday August 30, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports
Cardiff exit EFL Cup
Cardiff boss Neil Warnock made nine changes to his team for Tuesday night's EFL Cup exit at home to Luton. The game was watched by just 4,111 fans - the lowest crowd for a Bluebirds fixture since they moved to Cardiff City Stadium a decade ago - and the capital club were made to pay for numerous missed first-half chances before succumbing to a 3-0 reverse.
Cardiff now return to Championship action after picking up their first away point of the campaign last weekend when holding Blackburn to a goalless draw. The Bluebirds twice hit the woodwork, and created the better openings at Ewood Park without dominating their determined hosts, although Warnock agreed a stalemate was probably a fair result.
Callum Paterson was back in the starting XI in midweek and could feature again on Friday, whilst Nathaniel Mendez-Laing expected to be back in the fold. Robert Glatzel will lead the line in Warnock's preferred 4-2-3-1 with returning goalkeeper Brian Murphy on the bench. Elsewhere, new signing Marlon Pack is facing a couple of months on the sidelines.
Fulham suffer back-to-back defeats
A much-changed Fulham side suffered a 1-0 defeat against Premier League side Southampton in Tuesday night's EFL Cup 2nd Round contest from Craven Cottage but boss Scott Parker insisted there were plenty of positives to take from the tie. The Cottagers supremo dished out four debutants and fielded six academy graduates during the game.
Bobby Reid hit the bar as Fulham started strongly but the result means the Cottagers come into Friday's fixture off back-to-back losses following the surprise 2-1 home reverse to Nottingham Forest last weekend. Despite dominating possession and territory, the West Londoners failed to carve out enough clear-cut opportunities against the Tricky Trees.
Parker could look to freshen his side up for Friday night's fixture with full-back Denis Odoi returning to the fold midweek after recovering from injury. With Reid unavailable due to the terms of his loan, the Whites look likely to continue with their feared front three of Aleksandar Mitrovic, Ivan Cavaleiro and Anthony Knockaert in the team's 4-3-3 system.
Tough to separate well-match pair
Cardiff and Fulham shared a victory each during last season's Premier League relegation campaign. However, the Cottagers have tended to enjoy the upper hand in recent duels with the Bluebirds returning W3-D4-L0 in seven prior meetings between the pair across all competitions since 2015. Nevertheless, the Whites have won here just once in 20 years.
Cardiff 2.8415/8 boast two triumphs from two at the Cardiff City Stadium since returning to this level, although the Bluebirds requited late goals to achieve success against both Luton and Huddersfield. Even so, Neil Warnock has now presided over an imperious W28-D8-L7 Championship record as hosts, including W18-D4-L3 across the most recent 25 tussles.
Well-fancied Fulham 2.6813/8 have lost twice in their first five fixtures despite topping the division's possession stats, as well as running Leeds close at the top of the Shots On-Target Ratio (SoTR) metric. Thus far, the Cottagers have won the cumulative shots on-target battle 27-9 and the Expected Goals (xG) count 7.00 - 3.70 over their opening five encounters.
Goals may flow in Welsh capital
Matches between Cardiff and Fulham have a history of goals. Since 1990, 17 (74%) of 23 meetings have delivered successful Over 2.5 Goals 1.875/6 selections with Both Teams To Score 1.664/6 banking in 20 (87%) of that same sample.
Cardiff have been prominent in the goals markets already this term with four of their five encounters breaking the Over 2.5 Goals barrier at an average of 2.80 per-game. Three of those matches also paid-out for BTTS backers and the inclination is a repeat could be on the cards when an attack-minded Fulham side arrive.
Friday night's match-up will feature a clash of styles with Cardiff's agricultural approach at odds with Fulham's possession-based philosophy. It wouldn't be a huge surprise to see the hosts' enjoying set-piece supremacy, although it might be difficult to bully the Cottagers across the full 90 minutes.
I'm therefore happy to dip into the Same Game Multi markets on Betfair Sportsbook and support Fulham in the Double Chance market alongside Over 1.5 Goals. Only two of the duos combined 10 games have produced fewer than two goals and the pair will be keen to get forward and make their mark in their battle for lofty early season positions.