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Cardiff City-Chelsea Preview
It's been a tremendous start to the Premier League season for Chelsea and new manager Maurizio Sarri. The good times are likely to continue this weekend.
The Blues look to open with a fifth consecutive league victory for the first time since 2010-11, when they welcome winless Cardiff City to Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Chelsea join Liverpool and Watford as the only sides to win each of their first four Premier League games. Whilst the Hornets are the surprise of that trio, Chelsea under Sarri are equally impressive. The Blues' 10 goals are second only to Manchester City (11) while only Liverpool have yielded fewer than Chelsea's three conceded.
Sarri, the sixth manager to win his first four Premier League games, is obviously pleased with his club's early state, but far from satisfied.
"At the moment, I'm very happy with my players," he told Chelsea's official website. "They are doing very well in the week and in matches. I'm really very happy to have points from four matches, but I always think we can do more."
Chelsea last started 5-0-0 in the Premier League under Carlo Ancelotti in 2010-11, when they allowed just one goal in those contests. They finished second in the table that season, something Sarri and the squad hope won't happen again whilst still focusing on the matter at hand.
"Now, for us it's better to think only about the next match," Sarri said. "The gap at the beginning was 30 points (behind champions Manchester City last season), so it's very difficult to recover this gap in only one season, but I'm very happy with the four matches."
Chelsea shouldn't have too much trouble with Cardiff (0-2-2), who are one of five teams without a top-flight victory upon their return to the Premier League. However, those draws against Newcastle and Huddersfield have allowed them to keep away from the relegation zone early on.
Though the Bluebirds entered the recent international break on the heels of a 3-2 home loss to Arsenal, they managed not only to finally record their first two goals of the season, but kept the pressure on the Gunners throughout the game. Twice, Cardiff equalized the match, first through Victor Camarasa in first-half stoppage time and then via Danny Ward on 70 minutes before Arsenal took the lead for good 11 minutes later.
"It shows we can compete at this level," Ward told Cardiff's official website. "It shows that we can score goals and put teams under pressure, but we need to take our chances to make sure that we take home points from the game."
Whilst Cardiff doesn't expect to be intimidated by their surroundings at the Bridge, the air could be thick with contentiousness after Bluebirds manager Neil Warnock reportedly accused the Blues of "lacking class," in regards to the potential loan of Chelsea youth Tammy Abraham to Cardiff. According to reports, the talented 20-year-old Abraham was set to join Cardiff on loan but ended up at Championship side Aston Villa, much to the dismay of Warnock.
Chelsea outscored Cardiff 6-2 whilst winning both league matches when the clubs last met in 2013-14.
Updated September 13, 2018