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08 Aug 2018

Cardiff City: 2018/19 Premier League Preview

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2017/18 Season Review 

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Who's In? 

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Who's Out?

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Predicted Lineup

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The Key Question: How will Cardiff cope in the Premier League? 

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Prediction

REUTERS/Rebecca Naden

After securing second spot in the Championship — two points ahead of Fulham after they drew 1-1 with Brentford in the penultimate game, and nine points behind winners Wolves — Cardiff City return to the Premier League after a four-year hiatus.

Under the guidance of Neil Warnock, who earned his record eighth promotion, for the past two years, the club are confident they can remain in the top-flight for longer than the year they spent their in 2013/14, but all are aware of the enormity of the task.

2017/18 Season Review 

"It was not easy," defender Sol Bamba said upon achieving automatic promotion, and "nobody believed we could do it and we did it."

Never tipped for much in the Championship, the Bluebirds began defying expectations from the first week, winning their opening three games for the first time in the club's 107-year history.

REUTERS/Rebecca Naden

With Callum Paterson and Junior Hoilett spearheading the charge, Cardiff were only defeated three times — against Preston, Birmingham and Bristol — in their first 22 games as they stormed into the Championship's top two.

Despite a four-game losing streak across the Christmas period, the Bluebirds were always there or thereabouts and didn't once drop lower than fourth throughout the entire season.

They briefly dropped out of the top two in the 41st week of the season after a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa, but capitalised on Fulham's dropped points to reclaim an automatic promotion place come the end of the campaign.

Who's In? 

Despite signing four players so far, Warnock is growing increasingly frustrated at the club's transfer activity. "We've had knock-back after knock-back at the moment," he lamented. "If it's not possible we'll go with what we've got."

Josh Murphy 

Age: 23 

Position: LW

Fee: £11 millionAction Images via Reuters/Adam Holt

Brother of Newcastle's Jacob Murphy, Josh joins from Norwich City after a decent return of seven goals and three assists from the left flank. There's always an issue of translating form in the Championship to the Premier League, but fans will be hoping that the 23-year-old can make a big impression.

Bobby Reid 

Age: 25 

Position: AM

Fee: £10 million

Bobby Reid also arrives for around £10 million from Bristol City, and the attacking midfielder impressed with 19 goals and seven assists from a role off the striker, named in the reserves of the EFL Team of the Year as a result.

He began the season with four goals and an assist in his first three games, and Warnock will be expecting a similarly blistering start.

Alex Smithies

Age: 28

Position: GK

Fee: £3.6 million

Arriving from Queens Park Rangers for a small fee, goalkeeper Alex Smithies will provide backup for current number one Neil Etheridge. But it's important to have competition for places, and this the thought behind Smithies' arrival.

Greg Cunningham

Age: 27

Position: LB

Fee: £4 million

Greg Cunningham arrives from Preston North End and will supplement Joe Bennett on the left side of defence. He's also able to play centrally, too, adding versatility to the squad.

Who's Out?

Goalkeeper Ben Wilson has joined Bradford City on a free transfer, with Matty Kennedy also leaving Wales to move to St Johnstone for free.

Predicted Lineup

Warnock's base formation was a 4-2-3-1, a system he used in a majority of games last season, but he did also use a 4-3-3, 4-4-2 and, on very rare occasions, a three-man defence.

Cardiff could travel to Bournemouth with a few changes to the starting XI.  Neil Warnock is likely to make a change of personnel and start his new signings Cunningham, Murphy and Reid.

The Key Question: How will Cardiff cope in the Premier League? 

Cardiff have shown the solidarity of their squad throughout last season, if they can take this strength into the Premier League, they should be able to cope.

Warnock was able to foster a harmonious atmosphere at the Cardiff City Stadium and the key is being able to translate that to the top-flight, and quelling the onset of self-doubt and panic. To this end, they have a kind opening to the season, facing Newcastle, Bournemouth and Huddersfield.

REUTERS/Rebecca Naden

The 69-year-old, however, is a Championship specialist and doesn't seem able himself to make the leap into Premier League football. How he convinces his players will be crucial in determining their future.

Prediction

Best case 

After a disastrous stay in 2013/14, Cardiff are tipped to go down again. Warnock has created a side that are hard to beat, and if their new signings gel, the best they could hope for is survival in 17th. 

Both Eddie Howe and David Wagner achieved similar feats with Bournemouth and Huddersfield, respectively, so it's not completely out of the question.

Worst case 

With a group of Championship players — some of whom have had little to no Premier League experience — could struggle to keep up with the intensity. Cardiff will also be under immense pressure, and a capitulation could result in the Bluebirds finishing bottom by some distance.

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Huddersfield were similarly written off last season with a group of relatively untested players, but the difference is that Warnock hasn't been able to cut it in the Premier League on previous occasions. Cardiff will be heading back to the Championship.