Its been nine months since Leicester’s season-ending visit to the Cardiff City Stadium, the scene of that penalty. The horrors of that night were said to have haunted a Leicester side which started the season in the form of a team intent on leaving the Championship in entirely the wrong direction. But those memories have been repressed this year thanks to City’s superb form. What better way to exorcise the nightmare completely than to win at the venue of those dashed hopes, and place the burden of playoff apprehension firmly on the shoulders of perennial bottlers Cardiff City?
The Bluebirds have been promotion contenders for half a decade and yet have somehow contrived to disappoint at every opportunity. In 2006/07 they led the Championship until November and were still in playoff contention until March before taking just two points from their last nine matches and finishing the season in the bottom half. In 2008/09 Dave Jones’ side blew an 8-point (and +18 goal difference) lead over Preston with four games remaining to surrender their playoff place on goals scored. Last season they twice led Blackpool in the Championship playoff final only to lose 3-2 to Ian Holloway’s men.
So Cardiff supporters will be understandably nervous if, having lost at fellow promotion contenders Nottingham Forest at the weekend, they succumb to consecutive defeats for the fourth time this season.
The Bluebirds have been treading water for a few weeks now, especially in front of their own fans. This month they’ve required a last minute equaliser from Craig Bellamy to save a point against Reading, taken 85 minutes to net their first and only goal in a narrow win over Scunthorpe and dropped two points in their last home outing when they surrendered a 1-0 half-time lead to Burnley.
Leicester, whose four away fixtures this year have yielded 10 points, 3 clean sheets and just one goal conceded should prove a stern test for Cardiff. With the home side possessing so many attacking threats (Bothroyd, Chopra, Bellamy, Whittingham) blunting one of the Championship’s most recognised frontlines will be difficult, but it can be done. Three sides have kept clean sheets at the Cardiff City stadium this season. And the Foxes have credible attacking options of their own to ensure opponents think twice about committing too many men forward. Yakubu in particular has now scored four goals in his six starts for Leicester. Three of these have been the first goal of the game. Here are his prices for the first goal on Tuesday night.
There’s more good news in that Leicester have fared well against the top six so far this season, picking up an average of 1.63 points per game. Cardiff’s two home defeats meanwhile have come against other top six sides.
But momentum is Leicester’s best asset at present. If the Foxes can maintain it they will be on their best unbeaten run at this level since 2002/03. If they win, the Foxes will have notched six victories in succession, their best sequence since 1993 and just one win short of the club record.