The wait is finally over as Cardiff City begin their 2018/19 campaign on Saturday away to AFC Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
Neil Warnock’s men will be looking to hit the ground running in their return to Premier League football, as they line up in front of a sell-out contingent of travelling Bluebirds.
In the hot seat
The Cherries are managed by Eddie Howe, who first took charge of the South Coast side back in 2009. During his first season in charge he managed to overturn a seventeen point deficit to keep the Cherries in the Football League.
During the 2009/2010 season, Howe and his side were promoted to League One following a two-year period in League Two. A brief spell in charge of Burnley followed, but he later returned to Bournemouth in October 2012 and went on to secure another promotion, taking them into the Championship during his first season back.
Howe then secured a third promotion with Bournemouth, winning the Championship title in 2014/15 taking them into the Premier League – his promotion record earning him the inaugural Football League Manager of the Decade Award in 2015.
The Cherries head into their fourth season in the Premier League having finished sixteenth, ninth and twelfth respectively in their three previous top-flight campaigns.
Summer so far…
The Cherries began pre-season preparations in Spain, and faced two Spanish opponents, Sevilla and Levante, during their stay in the La Manga Resort in Murcia. They played out a 1-1 draw with Sevilla on 14th July before ending their tour with victory in a 4-3 thriller against Levante on 20th July.
Howe’s men then headed to the West Country following their return to the UK to face Lee Johnson’s Bristol City, where they were held to a 1-1 draw on 27th July.
A trip to the City Ground was up next for Howe’s side, where they suffered their first defeat of pre-season with a 2-0 loss to Nottingham Forest.
The Cherries capped off pre-season preparations with two home fixtures; on August 3rd they were defeated 2-0 by Spanish side Real Betis (who faced the Bluebirds at CCS the following day), before a 5-2 victory over Marseille on August 4th.
The transfer window
Howe and Bournemouth have been fairly busy throughout the summer window, adding three players on permanent deals.
Welsh international midfielder David Brooks was the Cherries first summer signing, joining on 1st July from Championship side Sheffield United. The 21-year-old has appeared for the national side on three occasions, and netted three times during his time at Bramall Lane.
The Cherries second summer acquisition was defender Diego Rico from Spanish La Liga side, Leganés, who made the switch to the South Coast on 24th July.
Bournemouth then broke their club transfer record to secure the services of Jeffersen Lerma on August 7th. The Colombian international featured in all of his country’s World Cup matches in Russia this summer.
Last time out
The Bluebirds and the Cherries last met on March 17th 2015, in a Championship match at Cardiff City Stadium. Bournemouth, who were third in the table at the time, went ahead after sixteen minutes, through a fantastic strike from none other than recent Bluebirds arrival, Harry Arter!
City drew level after fifty-eight minutes, thanks to Bruno Ecuele Manga’s header from a Peter Whittingham corner. The game ended all square, though it did not hamper Bournemouth’s title challenge, as they won the division at the end of the season.