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Spurs v Cardiff: The lowdown on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Bluebirds

Cardiff City manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Cardiff City manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

By Ben Grounds
Saturday, March 1, 2014
9:00 AM

Opposition file: Ben Grounds casts his eye over Cardiff City ahead of their visit to White Hart Lane in the Premier League tomorrow.

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Cardiff City goalkeeper David MarshallCardiff City goalkeeper David Marshall

THE LOWDOWN…

Much has changed since these sides locked horns at the Cardiff City Stadium back in September.

Bluebirds owner Vincent Tan has been flying against the wind of tradition since his arrival in 2010, with the changing of the club’s colours being offset by promotion and a £30million war chest to improve the squad last summer.

The acrimonious decision to axe popular manager Malky Mackay in late December, however, is yet to have the desired effect.

The new incumbent Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has picked up just one Premier League victory since the start of his tenure, which leaves Cardiff in the relegation zone.

The 2-1 victory over Norwich at the start of the month is their only three-point haul in the past 11 matches – and there have been seven defeats in that spell.

With only Fulham beneath them in the league, the Norwegian is desperate to kick-start his reign in the Welsh capital.

However, the Bluebirds’ FA Cup exit at home to Championship outfit Wigan was compounded by Saturday’s 4-0 home defeat against Hull, which left many fans heading for the exit with 25 minutes still remaining.

Former Manchester United striker Solskjaer, who scrapped plans for warm-weather training in Abu Dhabi this week, has claimed that maintaining Cardiff’s top-flight status is the biggest test of his career.

ONES TO WATCH…

Cardiff have shipped 48 goals so far this season – only Fulham have conceded more – but they certainly cannot blame their goalkeeper.

David Marshall has made 106 saves this season, becoming the first top-flight keeper to reach the century-mark this campaign.

The Scottish stopper will be in the company of former Spurs defender Steven Caulker, who is set to return to White Hart Lane after his move in the summer.

As an attacking force, the visitors will be relying on the pace and trickery of Wilfried Zaha, who arrived on loan from Manchester United in January.

The 21-year-old will be expected to provide the ammunition for Fraizer Campbell – another ex-Tottenham man, who is the side’s leading scorer with five goals – and Kenwyne Jones, who joined from Stoke last month as part of a swap deal that saw Peter Odemwingie moving to the Britannia Stadium.

Given Cardiff’s problems at the back, Solskjaer will be disappointed to be without the injured defensive midfielder Gary Medel, who was missing against Hull.

However, Jordan Mutch is likely to shake off a hamstring injury that ruled him out of that mauling by the Tigers.

Marshall’s heroics nearly earned a point for Cardiff when the two sides met in December, but Spurs got a dramatic stoppage-time winner as Paulinho produced a moment of magic to back-heel home from Erik Lamela’s low cross.

RECENT MEETINGS…

The previous meeting came in the third round of the FA Cup in 2007. Martin Jol’s Lilywhites were held to a goalless draw at the old Ninian Park before goals from Aaron Lennon, Robbie Keane, Steed Malbranque and Jermain Defoe secured a 4-0 victory in the replay at the Lane.

Cardiff have played Spurs in 15 top-flight encounters, including clashes in the 1950s and 1960s – and the Welsh outfit have lost eight, drawn three and won four of those.

Their last win at White Hart Lane came 60 years ago – a 2-0 success in November 1954.

PREDICTION…

Tottenham have regularly tripped up after European games, but their visitors on Sunday are bereft of confidence and the hosts should have enough – 2-0 to Spurs.

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