Cardiff City return to the Premier League as favourites to go straight back down, with Neil Warnock hoping to finally prove himself in the top flight.
When we play them: October 27 (home); April 20 (away)
Cardiff weren’t fancied for promotion from the Championship last season, but Warnock yet again worked his magic in England’s second tier.
He has now been promoted eight times in his managerial career—more than anyone else.
The Bluebirds ended up deservedly reached the promised land after finishing as runners-up behind Wolves, with Marko Grujic doing his bit to help out during his loan spell from Liverpool.
With Wolves and Fulham both adopting a more attractive playing style and possessing more quality, it is understandable why many neutrals think Cardiff are destined for the drop.
They are certainly the most limited of the 20 teams in terms of personnel, but they also have a manager who gets every bit out of his players and will fight to the death.
A fast start would make a world of difference, but don’t bank on it.
Players in: Josh Murphy, Bobby Reid, Alex Smithies, Greg Cunningham
Players out: Matty Kennedy, Ben Wilson, Greg Halford
Best XI: Etheridge; Richards, Morrison, Bamba, Bennett; Ralls, Gunnarsson; Murphy, Reid, Hoilett; Zohore
We spoke to Scott Salter from View From the Ninian to hear how he thinks Cardiff’s season will pan out, as well as Liverpool’s title aspirations.
How optimistic or pessimistic are you for the new season, and why?
I’m completely optimistic. To be honest with you, this season is a complete bonus for us Cardiff fans.
A few feel uneasy saying that (and there’s no doubt we need to and will be competitive—we’re not there to make up the numbers) but nobody gave us a chance in hell of achieving promotion last year.
We did, though, and there’s such a feel-good factor around the club at the moment.
In complete contrast to the last time we came up, there’s a good relationship between the club and fans, the manager and owner are working together and we’re playing in blue!
I can’t wait for the season to start.
What are your aims for the season?
Survival is the only aim. Everyone is writing us off and we won’t win many neutrals over with Warnock’s style of play, but we need to beat the teams around us and pick up enough points to finish in 17th.
I think it’s doable.
Who’s your man to watch?
Kenneth Zohore. He’s a big, powerful striker who also possesses a bit of pace. He didn’t score as many goals as we would’ve liked last year, but he was so crucial to the way we play.
He also bullied John Terry, which gives me hope that he can hack it with the big boys.
Cardiff City Stadium
Away fans’ pubs: To be completely honest, I can’t recall seeing many away fans in pubs near the stadium.
Considering most fans will be arriving by train, the Canton area is your best bet. It’s a short walk away from Grangetown Station and it’s where you will find a great atmosphere on matchday.
The Canton Cross Vaults is a great pub, as is the Corporation and the Ivor Davies.
One piece of advice for visiting fan: Make it a weekend break.
Cardiff is an amazing city and it would be a pity to visit just for a few hours—particularly considering it’s a four-hour journey from Merseyside.
How do you rate Liverpool’s chances heading into the season?
I think the business Liverpool have done this summer has been superb. There was a clear need for a new goalkeeper and you’ve spent big, but necessarily.
Every successful team has an enforcer like that sitting in front of the back four—it will give you protection considering Jurgen Klopp‘s attacking, high-intensity style of play.
The title will be a step too far, in my opinion, but I think Liverpool will give City a real run for their money and finish close behind in second place.
I also think you now have the depth to challenge for a domestic cup, which you really need.
Who’s going to be the Reds’ Player of the Year, and why?
There are more exciting players, of course, but the difference Van Dijk has made to Liverpool has been insane. A full season with him at the back and you will be laughing.
He’s even made Dejan Lovren look good!
TIA’s Cardiff Predicted Finish: 20th (Average of the TIA writers’ predictions)
Where Scott says Cardiff will finish: 17th
Where Scott says Liverpool will finish: 2nd
This is part of our club-by-club opposition previews this summer, getting the views of away fans on their club and their thoughts on LFC:
Arsenal | Bournemouth | Brighton | Burnley | Cardiff | Chelsea | Crystal Palace | Everton | Fulham | Huddersfield | Leicester | Man City | Man United | Newcastle | Southampton | Tottenham | Watford | West Ham | Wolves