Bristol City vs Cardiff predictions: Bluebirds ready to swoop
Bristol City earned the bragging rights over Cardiff last season, winning 3-2 at Ashton Gate and 2-1 at the Cardiff City Stadium during an otherwise underwhelming campaign for both clubs.
Things might be about to change, however, with the Robins struggling to get going in 2022-23 while a new-look Cardiff squad has impressed despite a raft of changes to the starting XI.
A summer rebuild seems to have caused less disruption than expected in the Welsh capital, instead boosting morale in a team that finished 18th last season in a campaign shadowed by relegation fears.
Now, players are discussing a promotion push after taking seven points from their first four matches and the cherry on the cake would be an away day success in the Severnside derby.
Bristol City vs Cardiff (Sunday, noon)
Bristol City midfielder Mark Sykes is suspended after picking up a red card against Luton in midweek and will join long-term absentees Nathan Baker and Ayman Benarous on the sidelines.
Striker Antoine Semenyo is expected to be out until September with a shin injury while new signing Stefan Bajic will again miss out as the France U21 goalkeeper continues to work his way back from wrist surgery.
Centre-back Tomas Kalas is likely to be absent as he recovers from a groin injury while midfielder Matty James appears to be a little way off returning from a calf injury.
Cardiff manager Steve Morison suffered a blow in midweek when summer signing Jamilu Collins ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament, ruling him out for the season. Former first-choice left-back Joel Bagan will deputise.
Fellow summer signing Ebou Adams is out for a couple of months with a pectoral muscle injury and Isaak Davies is likely to miss out as he recovers from a hamstring problem.
Cedric Kipre returns to the squad having been ineligible against parent club West Brom on Wednesday but fellow centre-back Mark McGuinness has left on loan to Sheffield Wednesday.
Andreas Weimann has failed to score in only one of five outings for Bristol City this season and has bagged six goals in his last seven Championship games.
The Austrian forward netted a career-high tally of 22 Championship goals last term, including three in the Severnside derbies as the Robins won 3-2 at home and 2-1 away.
Weimann’s prolific campaign helped the Robins net an impressive 62 league goals in 2021-22, with only the top six netting more Championship goals.
However, the backline was nowhere near as impressive, conceding more Championship goals than all bar Reading and relegated Peterborough — and that trend seems to be continuing with the Robins again among both the most prolific and porous teams in the second tier.
Bristol City manager Nigel Pearson will be looking to tighten things up this weekend as home advantage often counts for little in the Severnside derby, with Cardiff winning on four of their last six trips to Ashton Gate.
While it is too early yet to say Cardiff have risen from relegation candidates to promotion hopefuls, there has been an upturn in morale and form in Morison’s first full season at the club.
Home wins over Norwich and Birmingham got points on the board but Cardiff also impressed in their resilient 0-0 draw at West Brom in midweek, while their only defeat was slightly unfortunate away at Reading.
They visit a Bristol City side who have shown few signs of fixing last season’s defensive woes, conceding 14, 16, 13 and 11 shots against Hull, Sunderland, Wigan and Luton respectively while posting fewer shots than their opponents in each encounter.
The attacking contributions of Weimann and impressive academy product Tommy Conway paper over some of the cracks, but there are systemic weaknesses to exploit in the Robins’ set-up.
Victory over Luton in midweek will have been a welcome boost to Pearson following a run of two defeats and a draw, but Cardiff head across the estuary in form and with a point to prove — the Bluebirds could nick all three points in a high-scoring encounter.