Cardiff City v Everton: Bamba's boys to edge a close one
Both Cardiff and Everton are in dire need of a positive result, and Kevin Hatchard's backing the hosts...
"Everton's recent away form is very poor, and I'm expecting Cardiff to have a strong reaction to their 5-1 defeat to Watford."
Cardiff City v Everton
Tuesday 26 February, 19:45
Bluebirds must shake off Hornets debacle
If you'd offered Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock the chance to be a point above the Premier League dropzone with 11 games to go, I suspect he'd have accepted it gladly. After all, the veteran has played down his team's chances of survival for most of the campaign, an understandable approach when you look at the lack of top-flight experience in his squad.
That said, there is damage to repair after a dreadful defensive collapse in the 5-1 home defeat to Watford on Friday, the Bluebirds' fifth loss in the last eight Premier League games. The Hornets played some wonderful attacking football, but their lives were made far too easy by careless defending.
Warnock must decide whether to persist with Sean Morrison in defence, after he had a stinker on Friday. Victor Camarasa could return after injury, while Kenneth Zohore is pushing for a start after scoring a dramatic recent winner at Southampton.
Silva must repay owner's faith
With relegation unthinkable and qualification for European football increasingly unlikely, Everton have seemingly made a big decision about their future direction. They have chosen to persist with Marco Silva, a manager who they were desperate to sign when he was at Watford, but who has underwhelmed since. Owner Farhad Moshiri believed in Silva enough to pay millions to Watford in compensation, and thinks he can develop the youngsters at the club.
The development of a central philosophy does make sense, lest Everton descend further into irrelevance. The Toffees have made no real impact in the cup competitions, and they have lacked consistency in the league. A run of five defeats in six matches in all competitions has raised questions.
Defender Kurt Zouma is suspended, while Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka are both thought to be carrying knocks.
Cardiff capable of avoiding defeat
I'm expecting a reaction from Cardiff to Friday's awful display, and given that Everton have lost six of their last eight away matches in league and cup, there is scope to back the hosts to get something here.
Cardiff have won five of their last ten league games on home soil, and they pushed Everton hard in a 1-0 defeat at Goodison Park earlier this term.
I see this as being a fairly even contest between two teams well below their best. On that basis I'm happy to get two of the three available outcomes into our portfolio by backing Home and Draw in the Double Chance market at [1.8].
Unders bet depends on Cardiff's approach
Cardiff and Warnock will have been stung by how easily they were shredded by Watford on Friday, and they may focus on keeping Everton at arm's length here. The visitors have scored just two goals in their last four outings, and there was only one goal in the teams' last meeting.
I can understand why Under 2.5 Goals is the favourite here at [1.81].
Silva lining for Cardiff could be set plays
Throughout his career in England, Marco Silva has struggled to find the answer when it comes to defending set pieces. Everton have conceded a league-high 13 goals from dead-ball situations, so it's worth considering who might get on the end of some of these free-kicks and corners for Cardiff.
Sol Bamba has scored four Premier League goals this term, and is trading at a hefty [7.2] to score at any time in the 90 minutes. I think he's worth backing, especially considering two of those four goals have come in his last two games.
Kevin Hatchard 2018-19 English Football P/L
Back Home and Draw in the Double Chance market at [1.8]
Back Sol Bamba to score at [7.2]