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Tottenham Hotspur-Cardiff City Preview
Tottenham Hotspur will head into the new year amongst the top three in the Premier League, but their title hopes took a major hit in the final match of 2018.
Spurs will try to rebound from a potentially devastating defeat when they visit Cardiff City on New Year's Day.
Tottenham (15-0-5) entered Saturday amidst a 6-1-0 run over all competitions and owners of a 17-3 scoring advantage during a five-game league winning streak. And it looked as if both positive stretches would continue after Harry Kane scored in the 22nd minute against Wolves on Saturday at home. However, the visitors scored three times over a 15-minute stretch of the second-half to bury Spurs 3-1 at Wembley.
It was Tottenham's first defeat since falling 4-2 at Arsenal on Dec. 2, and now leaves them nine points behind sizzling first-place Liverpool, who still have not lost in league play.
"Every single defeat is disappointing, but these type of games always happen during the season and, of course, it's difficult," manager Mauricio Pochettino told Tottenham's official website. "It's tough when you believe the game is under control and you believe you are going to win, but until the game is finished, you cannot drop in your energy and focus.
"We have had a very good run in the last few weeks, and to keep that level is difficult, but now we need to move on and be ready for the next game."
Spurs last dropped consecutive matches during a three-game slide over all competitions to open September. They've also won their last three meetings with Cardiff - each by a 1-0 scoreline - and most recently at home Oct. 6, courtesy of a sixth-minute Eric Dier goal.
Though Cardiff (5-3-12) have struggled against Spurs of late, the Bluebirds will look to earn at least a point for a third consecutive match after grabbing a stunning 1-0 victory at Leicester City on Saturday. With the spoils set to be shared at King Power, Victor Camarasa scored in the second minute of second-half stoppage time to shock the home supporters and send Cardiff to their first league road triumph of the season.
It's been a relatively impressive turnaround for Cardiff, whose first league win didn't come until Oct. 20.
"I can't tell you how much we've improved since August and September," manager Neil Warnock told Cardiff's official website. "And I think we can get better now, especially with one or two additions in (the) January (transfer window).
"I think we can give everybody a run for their money. We've got great spirit and we can play a bit - people forget that."
The Bluebirds have yet to win back-to-back top-flight matches this season, but won't be intimated welcoming Spurs to Wales to open 2019.
"Our confidence is growing every week," defender Greg Cunningham said. "We're more than capable of holding our won in this league, but we know it's going to be a tough match, especially after they lost at Wolves.
"Our stadium is so loud and very intimidating for teams to come to."
Updated December 30, 2018