Date: 12th May 2011 at 10:39am
Written by:

One of Cardiff City`s biggest strengths is our counter attacking and goalscoring potential away from home, an attribute which saw us win more games than any other Championship side this season. Noticeably, we possess an abundance of attacking talent, but have serious concerns about the defensive capabilities of the squad.

Key to our attacking mentality away from home is the pace and skill associated with a number of our players. Clearly, Craig Bellamy loves to play on the counter-attack and isolating him one-on-one with defenders is a potent weapon allowing him to outpace his man and create chances. Chris Burke too is well adapted to this approach and the tricky winger can cause havoc in an open game – providing natural width, pace and creativity on the right. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas could yet feature with his powerful and pacy physique, the on-loan Arsenal prospect has shown phenomenal ball control and impressive skill during his time in South Wales. Jay Bothroyd and Michael Chopra complete the set with both men offering pace, skill and excellent movement despite their obvious differences in style.

The above options with will crucial tomorrow night against Reading. We must look to counter attack whenever possible to take pressure off our defence and allow the midfield to play to our strengths. That will likely mean playing with width, pace and exploiting space behind the Royals` full-backs. Pace will undoubtedly be a key attribute, especially given the likely full-backs selected by Brian McDermott.

Veterans Ian Harte (33) and Andy Griffin (32)are favourites to start for Reading. Both are vastly experienced and solid defenders, but clearly cannot match the likes of Burke, Bellamy or JET for pace. Bluebirds fans will remember the giantkilling FA Cup match against Leeds in 2002 when Alan Cork`s masterstroke was to deploy Earnshaw`s lightening pace against the cumbersome Harte. A decade on, Harte is unlikely to have gained speed so his battle with Burke/Jet on Cardiff`s right could be decisive. Griffin too is known as a gritty and dominant competitor, but while he will win any aerial battles – making him turn and challenge on the floor will give City a good chance of exploiting on the left. That could lead to a slight formation change with Craig Bellamy shifting to the left in order to exploit his pace advantage rather than the more languid Whittingham or Koumas.

There will be battles all over the pitch tomorrow night but City must look to attack whenever possible and Dave Jones will surely target the wide areas as a potentially decisive factor in the tie.