We spoke to Wales Online's Cardiff City correspondent Dominic Booth to get the view on this weekend's Premier League opposition...
It’s hard to imagine what the last couple of weeks have been like for Cardiff. How have the club handled the Emiliano Sala tragedy?
It’s obviously been a very difficult situation for everyone at the club, from Neil Warnock to the chief executive Ken Choo, to the players and the fans. The Bournemouth game was a massive tribute to Sala, with the fans singing his name and unveiling a big mosaic in his honour, but Cardiff want to move forward now. “Do it for Sala” has become a bit of a message around the club.
Neil Warnock seems to thrive in adversity. Can this actually galvanise his team further?
I think so. It has been difficult for him – he was quite emotional at the end of the Bournemouth game last week. But the team are even more energised to prove people wrong and try to stay up.
How will Cardiff be feeling about their current league position?
Southampton and Burnley have really kicked on in recent weeks and made it even more difficult for Cardiff. They had a very disappointing result against Newcastle in the last game before the Sala tragedy, which appeared to leave them in a bit of a hole, but the Bournemouth result and the way they played against Arsenal has given them a bit of hope.
Which players have come to the fore in those games?
Bobby Reid has been very good of late. It’s an entirely new attack, with Reid playing just off Oumar Niasse, who has signed on loan from Everton. They’re looking like a really dangerous duo and very hardworking, which is what Warnock wants from his attackers. They played very well against Arsenal and probably should’ve got a point. Reid missed a couple of chances there, but then he scored two against Bournemouth and was man of the match by a long way. That’s the main reason for Cardiff fans feeling quite optimistic at the moment.
Is the captain Sean Morrison still missing?
He is. He’s had an appendix operation, so I think he’ll be out for a couple more weeks at least, but his absence has allowed Bruno Manga to move into the centre of defence, having been playing at right-back before that. He and Sol Bamba have looked a pretty good partnership in the last couple of games, so Morrison might even struggle to get back into the side.
Why has there been such a contrast between Cardiff’s home and away form this season?
I think Warnock would probably admit he’s sometimes set up a bit too negatively away from home, with Cardiff almost setting up for a 0-0 draw from the first whistle. As soon as they concede, it’s very difficult to get a result, and too many times they’ve come unstuck early on. They had a great chance to go ahead at West Ham with a penalty, missed it, and West Ham scored three quick goals to win the game. They want to use the win they had at Leicester just after Christmas as a template – they offered a lot going forward and played the same way at Arsenal. They’ll feel they can win at St Mary's, although a draw would still be a good result for Cardiff.
What will be the approach on Saturday?
It was quite an adventurous team selection against Bournemouth – an out and out 4-2-3-1 instead of three proper central midfielders. I’d have thought Warnock will go for something similar against Southampton. He didn’t have Harry Arter or Victor Camarasa available against Bournemouth, so whether those two come back into the side will be interesting. They’ve both been linchpins of the midfield, but he may opt to stick with a winning team.