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All eyes on Cardiff City

AS we enter the new year, www.qpr.co.uk have decided take a statistical look at our upcoming opponents, starting with this evening’s opposition Cardiff City.

The Bluebirds, who are guided by former Millwall boss Neil Harris will be looking for a return to winning ways, following a tough festive period for the south Wales outfit.

A run of poor results has seen Cardiff go six games without victory, a record which goes all the way back to mid-December, when Harris’ side clinched a 3-2 win over Birmingham City in the Welsh capital.

Key man:

The arrival of Welsh centre forward, Kieffer Moore has become a vital part of Cardiff’s attacking threats this season. The 6ft 5, 28-year-old arrived from Wigan Athletic in the summer and has quickly become a major asset for the Bluebirds.

However, despite sustaining an injury last month and only returning last weekend, Moore continues to lead the goal scoring charts, once again highlighting the impact he has had at Cardiff since his arrival.

With an average height of 182.7 cm, Cardiff could be described as a physically strong side, with Moore’s presence up front only increasing this.

Having won 9.6/10 aerial duals per game, City have been quick to utilise the Welsh international’s ability in the air and have been keen to use another key asset - their wide players.

As a result, 74% of their attacks this season have started out wide, with Sheyi Ojo’s crossing chipping in with a helpful five assists. Whilst ensuring that 56% of the Bluebirds shots have come from inside the 18-yard box.

Goals:

As mentioned, Moore leads the goal scoring table for Cardiff this season and a key element of the Bluebirds goal scoring threat comes from their quality from set-piece situations.

The arrival of Harry Wilson from Liverpool has only added to this, with 43% of Cardiff’s goals this season coming from dead ball situations.

However, when defending Alex Smithies goal the Bluebirds have struggled, with long range efforts becoming their Achilles’ heel.

With 40% of their goals conceded this year coming from the edge or outside of the 18-yard box – most noticeably to R’s fans, Dom Ball’s last-minute strike in W12 back in October adding to this tally.

Style of Play:

Somewhat notorious for a Neil Harris side, this season Cardiff have been a very tough side to break down, with some added aggression – ensuring that any side travelling to the Cardiff City Stadium this year will be in for a tough evening.

For example, the Bluebirds have averaged 13.7 tackles and with that 13.8 fouls per game, which in comparison to our 12.5 and 12 respectively. Highlights an added aggression or intensity in City’s play this season.

Finally, it would be fair to say that this season’s Cardiff are a lot more direct in their play, compared to Mark Warburton’s QPR. An average of 48% possession in each game this year, compared to Rangers’ 51.4%, highlights the idea that the Bluebirds may be quicker in their approach and somewhat more direct.

However, the fact that they have scored five more goals than QPR this season, would also explain that they have been more clinical with the ball.

Set-up:

Throughout the current campaign, Neil Harris has been keen to use either the 4-2-3-1 or the 4-4-2 formation, systems which he has used 12 and 10 times respectively this year. These set-ups have predominantly been used to favour the target man Moore for the vast majority of the campaign.

But, after suffering a hamstring injury in December the star man has been missing ever since, with his return to the bench on the weekend a welcome one for the Welsh outfit.

However, last time out Cardiff lined-up in a 4-3-3 formation for the first time this season, with the Bluebirds keen to utilise the pace and directness of wingers Junior Holiett and Sheyi Ojo. But defeat to Norwich City, may see Harris revert to a more trusted set-up.

All statistics have been adopted from whoscored.com