Match Preview: Cardiff City vs. West Bromwich Albion
The Bluebirds resume their league campaign as they return to CCS to host the Baggies on Tuesday night - 7:45pm kick-off.
West Bromwich Albion are currently at the top of the Championship table with 53 points earned so far in their campaign. Sitting one point ahead of Leeds United, the two sides have occupied the top two spaces whilst jostling for first place since late November.
Following a six-match winning streak from November into December 2019, the Baggies have been without a league victory since a 3-2 away win over Birmingham City on December 14th. West Brom have drawn four of their six most recent matches, losing the other two at home against Middlesbrough and Stoke City.
Most recently, the Baggies returned to winning ways with an FA Cup Fourth Round victory against Premier league side West Ham United on Saturday afternoon. Conor Townsend grabbed an early goal for the visitors at London Stadium, shooting from the edge of the area and in at the right side of the net. Holding on to their lead for the remainder of the fixture, West Brom manager Slaven Bilić defeated his former club in his first return to the club since leaving his post with the Hammers in 2017.
Charlie Austin is West Bromwich Albion's top scorer so far this season. Joining in August 2019, the forward has since netted nine times for the Baggies in all competitions, most recently with a brace against Birmingham City in December.
Prior to playing at the Hawthorns, Austin enjoyed notable spells in both the Premier league ad Championship, playing for Queens Park Rangers and later Southampton, where he scored 16 goals in 71 Premier League appearances.
In the Hot Seat
Slaven Bilić is West Bromwich Albion's manager, having taken over at the club in June 2019. The Croatian manager began his career in football as a defender, starting out at Croation club HNK Hajduk Split before eventually moving to play for Premier league clubs West ham United and Everton.
The Croatian international began managing shortly after he retired as a player, and managed his country between 2006-12, taking Croatia to the Quarter-Finals of Euro 2008.
Following spells at Lokomotiv Moscow and Beşiktaş, Bilić joined former club West Ham United in 2015, guiding the London club to seventh in the Premier League at the end of his first season in charge.
Leaving in 2017, Bilić then had a spell at Saudi Arabian club Al-Ittihad, and joined West Bromwich Albion this year following the departure of manager Darren Moore, who had himself spent one year at the club.
Robert Earnshaw began his playing career at Ninian Park, having grown up locally in Caerphilly. Earnshaw made his debut for the Bluebirds as a teenager in March 1998 following a spell in the youth side, and scored his first league goal on the opening day of the 1998/99 season. Earnshaw scored 105 goals in 205 appearances for the Bluebirds, including a Club record-breaking 31 league goals scored in a single season, as the Bluebirds were promoted to the First Divsion at the end of the 2002/03 campaign.
In 2004, he left South Wales for the Hawthorns, where the Baggies were playing in the Premier League. During his time playing for West Brom, the Welsh international made a total of 43 league appearances across two seasons, and was their top scorer in the 2004/05 league campaign, when he netted on 11 occasions.