Cardiff vs Chelsea: Maurizio Sarri backing experience ahead of Cardiff clash
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Last Updated: 31/03/19 12:51pm
Maurizio Sarri has backed Eden Hazard, Willian and Pedro in the wide attacking roles this season and that is unlikely to change when Chelsea visit Cardiff on Sunday.
Sarri has come under scrutiny for his treatment of Callum Hudson-Odoi, who is yet to start a Premier League game this season.
Hudson-Odoi has made 19 appearances in all competitions for the club this campaign, and produced bright displays in his first two England appearances against Czech Republic and Montenegro.
"I saw the English national team only for 20-25 minutes and Callum didn't start very well in the first 20 minutes on the right," Sarri added.
"He did very well on the left, immediately. But I know him very well and I know he prefers to play on the left.
"But of course I can play with only two wingers. In the squad we have Hazard, Willian, Pedro, so it's not really very easy to start in every match here.
"We have to play eight matches in 28 days (this season) so I am sure Callum will start in two or three matches."
Sixth-placed Chelsea are two points behind Arsenal, who occupy the fourth and final Champions League qualification spot in the domestic standings. Both London clubs are also in the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
Cardiff beat West Ham 2-0 in their last outing and Neil Warnock believes his side can beat the drop.
"We're still putting the frighteners on one or two other teams," he said.
"I think the glass is over-brimming at the moment, not half-full or half-empty.
"You forget where we were two years ago and you get carried away, but they keep fighting and coming back when everybody writes us off."
Cardiff are without Callum Paterson for the Premier League home game against Chelsea on Sunday.
Paterson damaged ankle ligaments playing for Scotland in their Euro 2020 qualifier in San Marino and will play no further part this season.
Sol Bamba (knee ligaments) and Matthew Connolly (dislocated ankle) are also sidelined, but Harry Arter is expected to feature after missing the Republic of Ireland's Euro 2020 qualifying victory over Georgia on Tuesday.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek is expected to shake off a back issue in time for Chelsea's trip to Cardiff on Sunday.
The midfielder missed out on England duty due to his injury but should be ready to return for the Premier League contest.
Davide Zappacosta's ankle problem will be assessed, as will Ethan Ampadu's back concern.
- Cardiff have lost all three of their Premier League matches against Chelsea, with their only previous meeting at the Cardiff City Stadium coming in May 2014, losing 1-2.
- Chelsea have won seven of their last nine matches against Cardiff in all competitions (D1 L1), with their only defeat in this sequence coming at Ninian Park in the League Cup third round in October 1986 under John Hollins.
- Cardiff City have won 71% of their Premier League points this season in home games (20/28) - only Fulham have a higher percentage (88%).
- Chelsea have lost only one of their 17 Premier League games against Welsh opposition (W12 D4), losing 0-1 at Swansea City in April 2016 under Guus Hiddink.
- Cardiff have lost their last 16 Premier League games against the 'big six' sides, last avoiding defeat in November 2013, drawing 2-2 against Manchester United.
- Coming into this matchday, only Fulham (6) have lost more away Premier League games in 2019 than Chelsea, with the Blues losing four of their five games on the road so far.
- Chelsea have already lost against Wolves this season - they've not lost against two different promoted sides in a single Premier League season since 2012-13 (vs West Ham and Southampton).
- Neil Warnock has faced Chelsea four times at home in the top-flight, each time with a different club; he won in 1991-92 and 2010-11 (with Notts County and QPR respectively) and lost in 2006-07 and 2014-15 (with Sheffield United and Crystal Palace respectively).
- Chelsea's Eden Hazard has scored five Premier League goals in three appearances against Cardiff City, although all his goals have come at Stamford Bridge; no player has more Premier League goals against the Bluebirds than Hazard (Gerard Deulofeu and Luis Suárez also five).
- Chelsea's Gonzalo Higuain has scored three goals in his seven Premier League games so far, with all of them coming against teams in the relegation zone (2 vs Huddersfield, 1 vs Fulham).
This could be a big weekend in the race for the top four. I see Chelsea winning, they will have just too much for Cardiff, and that will leave Spurs needing to get a result at Liverpool. Some of Cardiff's home results recently have been alarming and they've come against lesser teams than Chelsea
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-3