Cardiff City v Leeds United Cheat Sheet
Cardiff City v Leeds United
Sunday lunchtime sees the meeting of two sides for which the FA Cup could be just what they need to kickstart spluttering campaigns in their respective divisions. It is now two months since either side won a competitive fixture (albeit the World Cup break did take up much of the period), with both sides last tasting victory in the league on November 5.
Hosts Cardiff have lost three and drawn four of their seven Championship games since their 1-0 win away at the Stadium of Light, one of just seven victories in the division this season. They sit two points above the relegation zone and look set to be involved in the relegation picture all season long.
It is difficult to know how they will approach the game, either treating it as a free hit and an opportunity to build some much-needed confidence, or perhaps they will see it as an unnecessary distraction and attempt to crash out as quickly as possible to put their full focus on survival. There would be no shame in going out to Premier League opposition, so as frustrating as it may be for fans, it might well be the more sensible option.
Mark Hudson suggested he might rest “one or two” of his squad, but there is no suggestion of the kind of wholesale changes that saw Cardiff crash out of the EFL Cup earlier in the season when they lost 3-0 at home to League One Portsmouth.
Leeds meanwhile are in a similar predicament, although they do look less at risk than their hosts and should have enough to stay up this season. Again, the main question mark is how much Jesse Marsch chooses to invest in a cup run. The club have not made it past the Third round since 2016/17, a 5-year streak which the 6,500 travelling fans will be hoping to see broken here.
Leeds should see plenty of the ball with their much superior squad, and so far this season games in which they have had more possession have generally led to more corners for the Yorkshire outfit.
They have had nine games in all competitions this season in which they had more than 50% possession, and seven of these have seen 5+ corners. Six of those seven have seen 6 or more corners, so taking over 5.5 corners at evens is very attractive, but over 4.5 is still a great price considering the statistics and likely pattern of play.
Cardiff have conceded over 4.5 corners in 10 of their last 14 fixtures, and have averaged 5.2 corners against them across their last 5 games. Of their 13 games in 2022/23 where they have had less than 50% of the ball they have conceded at least five corners in nine.
If Leeds can dominate the ball as we might expect, they should clear this line with relative ease.
Of Leeds’ 19 games this season, 13 have seen them pick up two or more cards. They are a pressing side who push up the field to win the ball back, which leads to plenty of mistimed attempted tackles and can often leave them out of shape when their press is bypassed, requiring someone to take a booking for the team to prevent a counter-attack.
They are likely to start some young players who should be eager to impress, which combined with their inexperience is usually a recipe for a card or two.
The visitors have seen three or more cards in nine of their 19 games, and the results have had little impact on the number of cards they have received. Win, lose or draw, Leeds cards are always likely, and their hosts for this tie have been excellent at getting their opponents put into the referee’s notebook this season.
Of their 27 games this season, Cardiff’s opponents have had more cards than them in 15, and on only 5 occasions have they had more cards than their opponents. Those looking for extra value may want to take a look at the ‘Most Cards’ market where Leeds are priced at 2.80 and the draw is priced at 3.60.
For their part Leeds have had more cards than their opponents in eight of their 19 games and tied them in 7. Only in 4 games have their opponents had more.
This price is simply too high, regardless of the quality of opposition. Cardiff have seen 2.42 cards brandished to their opponents this season, and Leeds have seen this number of cards in two-thirds of their games this season.
The on-loan youngster has been in and out of the team throughout the season, and does not often finish the full 90 minutes, but he takes more shots than anyone for this Cardiff side, taking 2.7 shots per 90 across his last seven games for the club.
He can sometimes struggle against low-blocks, but with space to run into on the counter-attack against Leeds I predict he will have more joy, and with plenty of his efforts coming from outside the area if he can be found in space, he will be more than happy to pull the trigger.
Odds of just below evens for a single shot on target also look attractive, but his inefficient shooting does make it more of a risky bet than simply needing to take two shots, with only 20% of his shots ending up on target, which is hardly surprising when most of his efforts come from 20 yards.
His only full 90 minutes of the season so far came in Cardiff’s 2-1 defeat by Watford before the World Cup break in which the Aston Villa youngster took four shots, three of which came from outside the box. If he is given the chance to play at least the majority of the game, Leeds’ defence should leave enough space for this bet to sail in comfortably.
In a game that should see the cards come out, my favourite pick for fouls and cards is Joe Ralls. The Cardiff holding midfielder gets further forward than his midfield partner Ryan Wintle, which leaves him more exposed when Leeds attempt to counter.
Ralls makes more fouls than any other Bluebirds player besides striker Mark Harris and should be coming into regular contact with the combative Tyler Adams and his midfield partner Marc Roca, who each draw a shade under 1 foul per game. If this is a close encounter this midfield battle could heat up quickly.
Furthermore, Ralls can expect to be tasked with tracking the free-roaming and often interchanging pair of Brenden Aaronsen and Crysencio Summerville, both of whom draw 2 or more fouls a game on average.
Ralls and Wintle will need to be on top-form to keep Leeds’ attacking talent quiet, and that may well involve putting in a few challenges to break up attacks or just to let their Premier League opponents know they are there. Either way, Ralls looks highly likely to commit at least one or two fouls in this one and hopefully a card as well.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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