Neil Warnock revealed his thinking for Sunday’s Premier League home clash with Arsenal after Cardiff City’s disappointing 3-1 Carabao Cup home defeat against Norwich City.
“The only major decision I had in my mind for Sunday I won’t be doing that now,” he said. “I more or less know what my team’s going to be and the cup tie didn’t put me off that. 10 out of 11 players I have that in my mind.
“The performance showed a lot of the lads need games. We were a little bit off the pace. Obviously you need games.
“But it’s opened my eyes to team selection for Sunday [against Arsenal] and that’s what it was meant to be.”
77 – GOAL!!!! Bullet header from Bruno!!! (1-3)
— Cardiff City FC (@CardiffCityFC) August 28, 2018
The main thought in Warnock’s mind his who will lead the Bluebirds’ attack against Arsenal?
Kenneth Zohore has great potential and put in a decent shift when he went on against Norwich, while Gary Madine started, won his aerial battles and can reflect with some satisfaction.
At times it looked as though his partnership with Bobby Decordova-Reid was a little distant, but that can certainly be improved.
The striker who impressed me was Danny Ward, who has gone on from the bench three times this season and improved the performance on each occasion.
Could Ward be the man who leads the line against the Gunners this Sunday (1.30pm)?
Goals from Dennis Srbeny (2) and Max Aaron swept Norwich into a three-goal lead at Cardiff City before captain Bruno Manga pulled a goal back after 77 minutes.
Warnock’s team went into this tie as the only one of 92 Premier League and Football League sides who had failed to score so far this season.
The manner made nine changes from the goalless draw at Huddersfield, while Norwich made 10 alterations to their team who lost 3-0 against Leeds United.
Cardiff are out of the Carabao Cup, but Manga scored their first goal of the season – and lifted the hearts of Bluebirds fans around the stadium.
It was a beautifully worked set piece goal with Decordova-Reid providing the delivery.
Manager Neil Warnock had made three substitutions and Reid took responsibility to take a corner, picking out Manga’s run. The Gabon international headed into the top left hand corner from the centre of the penalty area.
City crashed out of the Carabao Cup 3-1 and they won’t remember this second round tie with too much affection, but Warnock’s warriors will be lifted by their first goal.
City almost added a second when Decordova-Reid’s free-kick flicked off a defender’s shoulder and hit the outside of a post with goalkeeper Michael McGovern wrong-footed by the deflection.
McGovern was almost beaten when Ward and Zohore combined and a flick by Ward was close to going in.
It was a disappointing cup exit for Cardiff, but the players showed character and spirit in front of almost 7,000 spectators.
This wasn’t a disastrous team performance by Cardiff and no individuals really had a nightmare, but it was far from the levels of quality needed.
To be fair, manager Neil Warnock made a lot of changes to his line-up and tried out tactics and combinations which didn’t really work out.
Goalkeeper Alex Smithies and defender Greg Cunningham both made their City debuts, while development team players Ciaron Brown and Cameron Coxe were among the substitutes.
Cardiff City: Alex Smithies, Lee Peltier, Matthew Connolly, Bruno Manga (capt), Jazz Richards (Callum Paterson 58), Greg Cunningham, Víctor Camarasa (Kenneth Zohore 71), Loic Damour, Kadeem Harris, Gary Madine (Danny Ward 58), Bobby Decordova-Reid. Subs not used: Brian Murphy (gk), Joe Bennett, Ciaron Brown, Cameron Coxe.
Norwich City: Michael McGovern, Maximillian Aarons, Marco Stiepermann, Felix Passlack, Christoph Zimmermann, Tom Trybull (Moritz Leitner 67), Todd Cantwell (Jordan Rhodes ), Alexander Tettey (capt), Ben Godfrey, Dennis Srbeny, Emiliano Buendia (Ben Marshall 83). Subs not used: Tim Krul (gk), Teemu Pukki, Onel Hernandez, Grant Hanley.
Referee: Andrew Madley.