The Bluebirds return to Premier League action after the international break on Sunday, March 31st, taking on Chelsea at Cardiff City Stadium with a 2:05pm kick-off…
Chelsea arrive in South Wales occupying sixth place, but are only three points outside of the Champions League places. Results for the Blues have not gone their way of late, drawing 1-1 with Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge before a 2-0 loss to Everton at Goodison Park in their previous two fixtures.
Maurizio Sarri’s team have performed well in the UEFA Europa League this season, and have a Quarter Final clash with Slavia Prague in mid-April. Chelsea also reached the Carabao Cup Final this season, but narrowly lost to Manchester City, 4-3 on penalties at Wembley.
As usual, Eden Hazard is one of the Blues’ star performers this season, with thirteen Premier League goals and eleven league assists to his name. Of the six players to have made the most passes in the Premier League this season, four play for Chelsea; Jorginho, Antonio Rüdiger, David Luiz and César Azpilicueta.
In the hot seat
Maurizio Sarri became Chelsea manager in July 2018, replacing fellow his countryman Antonio Conte. Sarri arrived at Chelsea following an impressive three-year spell with Napoli of Serie A, and signed a three-year contract at Stamford Bridge.
Sarri began his professional coaching career in 2005 with Pescara, having previously worked as a banker. He rose to prominence with Empoli in 2012, leading the club to the Serie B promotion play-offs. In his second season with the club, Sarri earned promotion to Serie A, and recorded a fifteenth placed finish with Empoli in 2014-15. The Italian replaced Rafael Benítez at Napoli in 2015, and finished as Serie A Runners-Up in his first season.
Despite the loss of Gonzalo Higuaín to Juventus, who has since re-joined Sarri on loan at Chelsea, Napoli continued to maintain Champions League football, finishing third and second in the following two seasons, which led to Sarri being named Serie A Coach of the Year in 2017. He left Naples last summer, with former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti replacing him.
Last time at CCS...
Cardiff City 1-2 Chelsea – 11th May 2014
Chelsea last visited CCS on the final day of the 2013-14 Premier League season, coming back from a goal down to earn a 2-1 victory against the Bluebirds.
City took the lead after fifteen minutes as a City effort deflected in off César Azpilicueta. The change of the ball's direction left goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer stranded, putting the Bluebirds ahead.
José Mourinho’s team hit back in the seventy-second minute, with Andre Schürrle scoring. Looking to make up for his earlier own goal, Azpilicueta saw a close-range header superbly saved by David Marshall, then nodded the rebound onto the crossbar. At the third attempt, current Fulham man Schürrle volleyed the ball into the ground, bouncing up into the net for an equaliser.
Chelsea completed their comeback three minutes later through Fernando Torres. Schürrle turned from scorer to provider, flicking the ball on towards Torres. The Spanish striker had cleverly stayed onside and proceeded to control the ball with his chest before calmly slotting home from close range, ending the contest with Chelsea taking the points.
Our #1, Neil Etheridge, began his career in the Chelsea Academy. Etheridge joined the Blues in 2003 and made the switch from striker to goalkeeper on the advice of a youth coach. The Philippines international moved across West London to Fulham in 2006 and joined the Bluebirds in 2017.
Chelsea legend Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink ended his playing career with City, spending the 2007-08 season at Ninian Park. A proven Premier League striker, Hasselbaink joined Chelsea in 2000 for a club-record £15million fee, winning the Golden Boot in his debut season at Stamford Bridge. The former Netherlands international became a Bluebird in 2007, and helped City reach the 2008 FA Cup Final, scoring a wonderful goal against Wolves in the Round of Sixteen.
Another man to have played for the Blues and the Bluebirds is Eddie Newton. Newton, who is currently Chelsea’s Loan Player Technical Coach, came through the club’s academy, and made his debut in 1992. Later that year, the midfielder joined the Bluebirds on loan, making eighteen appearances and scoring four goals for Eddie May’s side. Newton became a mainstay in the Chelsea side, making 214 appearances for the club. He was Assistant First Team Coach to Roberto di Matteo and helped the Blues to lift the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League in 2012.