12.27pm EDT 12:27 The teams are out! Cardiff are in their famous blue shirts, while Palace sport second-choice white with Team of the Seventies sash. Anticipation and nerves crackle around the stadium. We’ll be off in a couple of minutes. “As a Brighton fan I’m already nervous and completely rooting for Palace,” admits Simon Dobinson.
The teams are out! Cardiff are in their famous blue shirts, while Palace sport second-choice white with Team of the Seventies sash. Anticipation and nerves crackle around the stadium. We’ll be off in a couple of minutes. “As a Brighton fan I’m already nervous and completely rooting for Palace,” admits Simon Dobinson. “It doesn’t feel right, the whole world is out of kilter at the mo! It’s not a comfortable feeling.” Ah the singular joy of the business end of the football season. It’s been nine months in the making, all this.
Here’s his opposite number Roy Hodgson! “I don’t think my players will ease up. I have every faith in them, they have been fantastic so I have no reason to doubt them. They will be giving their all to get a result. Between the 14 players I can use, I hope we can give a good performance. Cardiff have everything to play for, it’s their last chance, so we have to expect a fast start and a strong and aggressive approach, because if we were in their situation that’s what we would be trying to do.”
Not sure whether we’re going to hear from Neil Warnock before the game. Time will tell. But he has done a pre-record with BT Sport, and during it rather marvellously declared that he won’t miss the Premier League if Cardiff are relegated. “I don’t think I’d miss it that much if I’m honest. It’s a great league but there are a lot of minuses. But I won’t go into that because I can’t afford it.” Full marks for honesty, having been painstakingly teed up to give England’s top division the big sell. Not having it. He then launched into a paean in honour of VAR, just in case you missed the subtleties inherent in his statement. He’s not letting the referees off the hook, is he. Warnock might not miss the Premier League if his team go down, but the Premier League sure will miss one of football’s great pantomime villains. He’s great value and always entertaining, whichever way you look at it.
Cardiff make three changes to the team that went down 1-0 at Fulham last weekend. Josh Murphy, Danny Ward and Bobby Reid take the places of Leandro Bacuna, Junior Hoilett and Oumar Niasse.
Crystal Palace make four swaps from the side named for last week’s goalless draw with Everton. Joel Ward, Michy Batshuayi, Andros Townsend and Jordan Ayew replace Patrick van Aanholt, Cheikhou Kouyate, Max Meyer and the injured Christian Benteke.
Cardiff City: Etheridge, Peltier, Morrison, Ecuele Manga, Bennett, Mendez-Laing, Gunnarsson, Victor Camarasa, Josh Murphy, Reid, Ward.
Subs: Richards, Zohore, Bacuna, Cunningham, Brian Murphy, Healey, Hoilett.
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Wan Bissaka, Kelly, Dann, Ward, Townsend, McArthur, Milivojevic, Zaha, Batshuayi, Ayew.
Subs: Van Aanholt, Meyer, Kouyate, Hennessey, Wickham, Sako, Riedewald.
Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).
It’s not over, not quite yet. Cardiff City haven’t done themselves too many favours during the run-in – eight defeats in ten, the last a miserable attack-too-late effort at everyone’s whipping boys Fulham – but there’s still hope.
They may be four points behind 17th-placed Brighton & Hove Albion with just two games to play. However the Seagulls face Arsenal and Manchester City in their final matches. True, Cardiff’s last fixture is away at Manchester United … but this is 2019 not 1999. And three points today would give the Bluebirds a genuine chance of scraping to safety on the final day. There’s still hope.
Only problem is, today’s opponents Crystal Palace have won four of their last five away matches. Their last trip on the road ended in a 3-2 victory at Arsenal. Palace, who have been safe for a while, have nothing to fear here.
But if there’s one thing you can always say about a Neil Warnock team, it’s that they’ve got moxie. Last time round, they asked a few serious questions of Liverpool. If they can do that to a team chasing the title, they surely can do it to Palace. Accepting that as the case, it’s on. It’s on!
Kick off: 5.30pm BST.