Cardiff will host Southampton on Saturday afternoon as the pair clash in a Premier League fixture, which is an early contender for the dreaded 'relegation six-pointer' tag.
The home side have somewhat turned their fortunes around after a sticky start the season following promotion from the Championship. They failed to win any of their first eight league games but have since managed to claim victories over Fulham, Brighton and Wolves, as they sit two points above the drop zone heading into the busy festive period.
The away side have been in dire form of late, although they did manage to pick up a 2-2 draw at home to Manchester United last week.
Unfortunately for Mark Hughes, that wasn't enough for him to keep his job as he was dismissed in the week. Southampton will be hoping for an instant impact from new boss Ralph Hasenhüttl, the Austrian was appointed on a two-and-a-half year deal on Wednesday having formerly managed German club RB Leipzig.
Check out 90min's preview for Saturday's Premier League clash below.
How to Watch
|When is Kick-Off?||Saturday 8 December|
|What Time is Kick-Off?||15:00 (BST)|
|Where is it Played?||Cardiff City Stadium|
|TV Channel/Live Stream||Sky Sports Soccer Saturday / BT Sport Score|
The Bluebirds have fortunately not had many injury issues this campaign. The starting lineup has stayed mostly settled, although Warnock has tinkered with his forwards chopping and changing between Bobby Reid, Callum Patterson and Josh Murphy.
Patterson has started the last two games in the space of five days so may be given a rest this weekend. The only doubt for Cardiff is Keneth Zohore as he continues to work himself back to full fitness following a calf problem. Other than the giant Dane being doubtful, only Jazz Richards will be certainly be unavailable as he remains a long-term absentee.
Southampton will be sweating over the fitness of a couple of key men. Captain Ryan Bertrand missed the game on Wednesday with a back problem and is a doubt for the trip to Wales this weekend. Liverpool loanee Danny Ings has missed the Saints last four games with a hamstring injury so is doubtful, although reports suggest he may be fit enough for a place on the bench.
The away side will certainly be without long-term absentee Shane Long, as well as 18-year-old striker Michael Obafemi who looked so promising when he started his first Premier League game of the season at Old Trafford last weekend. He assisted Stuart Armstrong's opener before he was forced off with a muscle injury.
|Cardiff||Etheridge; Ecuele Manga, Morrison, Bamba, Bennett; Gunnarsson, Arter, Ralls; Hoilett, Murphy, Paterson.|
|Southampton||McCarthy; Cedric, Vestergaard, Hoedt, Targett; Hojbjerg, Lemina; Redmond, Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Austin.|
Cardiff and Southampton have a long history of playing each other, which dates back to 1913, with the Saints coming out on top in that first encounter.
However, since then, the two teams have a near-identical head-to-head record.
From the 53 time they've clashed, both have won 19 times, with the remaining 15 games ending all square.
Only twice have they actually met in the Premier League with both sides winning one each. On the face of things, history suggests there really isn't much to split the pair. Perhaps a draw is inevitable.
The Bluebirds have had an understandably difficult start to the season after promotion to the Premier League. They could not match the spending power of fellow promoted sides Fulham and Wolves, leaving many thinking it could be a very long season for the Welsh side.
It did look as if that may be the case after Warnock's side had failed to win any of their opening eight matches. But they look to have found their feet after winning three from their last seven. They have opened up a two-point gap over Southampton who currently occupy the final relegation place.
Having won all three games at home, the Bluebirds will be confident that they can get another result with the crowd behind them as they play against a side that have not won in 11 games, although they will need to tighten up at the back if they want to perform more consistently as they have conceded at least one goal in each of their last ten league games.
As mentioned, Southampton have been so poor of late and are currently on a miserable winless streak. The Saints only victory came back in September when they toppled Crystal Palace 2-0, but have failed to kick-on since then, culminating in the sacking of a manager they only appointed in January this year.
Mark Hughes departed his role as head coach, replaced by Ralph Hasenhuttl who will be taking charge of his first fixture, having been in the stands at Wembley on Wednesday to watch his new side lose 3-1 to Tottenham.
The former RB Leipzig man has a difficult job on his hands to turn around the fortunes of a Saints side that have won once all season.
A tough one to predict as Cardiff have been good at home in recent weeks, but Southampton have the 'new manager effect' which has seen so many teams in the past up their game and dramatically see an upturn in results.
Taking those two factors into account, it's going to be difficult to separate the teams.
Prediction: Cardiff 1-1 Southampton