This will be one for the purists.
It’s perhaps not the most glamourous fixture on show this weekend, but Cardiff v Brighton will be an intriguing battle nevertheless. Though they currently find themselves in the Premier League’s bottom three, Neil Warnock’s Bluebirds have been incredibly spirited all season, and it’s just their painful lack of quality which will sadly see them relegated at the end of the season.
Things are looking much rosier for Brighton, who are currently 12th in the table, already eight points clear of the drop zone; the job Chris Hughton as done at The Amex is simply remarkable, and I’m not expecting them to be in any sort of relegation danger this season.
I’m fully expecting this to be the gritty slogfest that many are predicting; for that reason, I’m confidently backing under 2.5 goals to be scored.
Brighton’s defence is generally very strong for a ‘lesser Premier League side’, with Mat Ryan, Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy all regularly outstanding performers. Though their run of three consecutive clean sheets was ended at Goodison Park against a talented Everton side, Cardiff simply do not have the players to seriously worry Brighton’s centre-backs, and I find it very hard to see them posing a serious threat.
The Seagulls are hardly prolific away from home, however. Four goals on the road this campaign is a little on the meagre side, and the reliance on Glenn Murray is a slight worry for Hughton – though if he keeps scoring, what’s the problem?
It could be a case of one goal settling the contest, so under 2.5 goals seems a great prospect.
They only won two away games last season, but I’m backing Brighton to win this match.
Chris Hughton’s side dug in to beat Newcastle 1-0 at St. James’ Park a few weeks ago, and there’s no doubt they have a superior team to Cardiff. The fact that the Bluebirds lost 2-1 to an absolutely dreadful Burnley side at The Cardiff City Stadium makes me relatively confident of an away win.
Yes, Cardiff beat Fulham at home, but that was against a team who are on course to concede over 100 goals this season, which is a trait Hughton sides never possess. Albion will be well-organised and tough to beat, and I can see them nicking this match; with odds longer than 2/1, it’s massively priced, too.
Let’s face it, there’s one player on the pitch that is more likely to score than the other 21 combined: Glenn Murray.
Brighton’s veteran striker is having another fantastic season, and with six goals to his name already, he is mixing it with the likes of Harry Kane and Sadio Mané in the goalscoring charts. Contrast this with Josh Murphy and Callum Paterson – the only Cardiff players to score more than once this season - and it shows you, in part, where Neil Warnock’s issues lie.
For this reason, backing Glenn Murray as the first goalscorer at a massive 26/5 could be a fantastic prospect. In a game like this, where the tie could be separated by a piece of magic, clinical finishing or nous, Murray is often your man.