Cardiff's latest manager, Neil Warnock AKA Colin Wanker, will be celebrating his 1 month anniversary at the helm of the blue/redbirds, and is presumably already preparing himself for "eccentric" boss Vincent Tan's next move - 6 managers in 6 years tells only half the story of a club run so shambolically that QPR under Tony Fernandes look positively balanced and forward-thinking. Sitting in 21st place with 15 points, 4 wins and just 13 goals to their name - with 23 goals against - this looks a daunting prospect for Craig Bellamy's former club. By contrast, Newcastle are sitting top with 34 points, 32 goals scored and just 12 against.
The history of this fixture does not paint a great picture for Cardiff either - of the 54 meetings between the sides, Newcastle have won 25, to Cardiff's 16 (with 13 draws). Added to this, with the exception of an 3rd round FA Cup victory at SJP in 2014, City have not won against the Toon since 1981 - a 1-0 win at their place. Our recent league meetings - in the 2013/14 season and the 2009/10 Championship season - have seen 4 Newcastle wins, by an aggregate score of 11-2 (bolstered considerably by our 5-1 win in February 2010).
In summary, all the stats and the history are pointing towards a Newcastle win - and with both Dwight Gayle and Mitro on fire, it would be brave to bet against them. In other words, this is the perfect opportunity for Newcastle to be Newcastle and lose 0-1.
Matt Ritchie misses out after collecting his fifth yellow of the season, but Jesus Gamez, Achraf Lazaar, Rob Elliot and Sadio Haidara could all be ready to return to the squad. Dwight Gayle may also return from a Hamstring injury - but it seems unlikely that Rafa would drop Mitrovic after four goals in two games against promotion-chasers Preston. Daryl Murphy remains a doubt.
Rickie Lambert is set to miss a second game due to a serious leg gash - depriving Cardiff of their joint second-top goalscorer (with 2 goals, alongside Peter Whittingham and Joe Ralls), with Anthony Pilkington (3 goals) leading the chart for the Bluebirds. Other danger men include Junior Hoilett and Marouane Chamakh ("danger" in the loosest sense of the word).
A word from the gaffers:
Rafa wrote:Gayle is fit. I am really pleased to have 2 players scoring goals. The competition is really good for the team & us.
Mitrovic is a worker. Gayle is the same. As a manager you have to be really pleased with 2 strikers scoring goals.
Both Gayle & Mitro can score goals & at some point can play together. I will not say well, but they can play together.
No complacency is what we are telling the players. I am happy because I can see the team progressing every week.
He (Warnock) is a manager with great Championship experience & we expect a tough game. Cardiff City are improving now.
Referee:Warnock wrote: I have to say how much I admire him. What’s gone on in the past will not go away, I was disappointed at the time, but that’s gone. I’ve got nothing but admiration for him, to stick with it.
To be relegated and then to stay, he’ll be on a good salary but it’s not money that motivates you at this stage of our career. He wants to win and see the project through. I was surprised he stayed but it shows what he thinks of the club. He was at Real Madrid two years ago, he went down but he stuck with them. It shows it’s a special club.
You’re in football for games like this. 50,000 screaming in black-and-white and lowly Cardiff. David and Goliath. You’ve got to enjoy it, it’s a bonus game. They’ve won seven on the trot but it’s another challenge.
Tony Harrington - second Newcastle game of the season for the Cleveland referee. He was in the middle for our 1-0 win at Bristol City.
Given our form, their form, and literally everything else, we surely have to win this game. I'm going to say another goal for Mitro, and Atsu to finally score.
Newcastle 2 - 0 Cardiff
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BBC Newcastle (Locals can tune in on their radio. Those outside the region can listen via nufcTV (£3.99/month subscription))
Preview Courtesy of Speedo