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West Ham United-Cardiff City Preview
Whilst West Ham United have found themselves in relatively decent form overall of late, they're still looking to return to the win column on the road within the Premier League.
There would seem to be a good opportunity to claim their first league away triumph of 2019 on Saturday, when they visit Wales to take on relegation-zone residents Cardiff City.
Though ninth-place West Ham (11-6-12) will try to win back-to-back Premier League matches for the first time since a four-game run Dec. 1-15, they are 2-2-1 over their last five top-flight fixtures. Declan Rice scored in the seventh minute and Mark Noble converted a successful penalty in the 42nd to help the Hammers top Newcastle 2-0 last Saturday at London Stadium.
West Ham are 3-2-0 in the Premier League at home in 2019. Meanwhile, they've been outscored 9-1 whilst going 0-1-4 away from London Stadium since winning three consecutive road contests Dec. 1-27.
"We have improved our home form in recent matches," manager Manuel Pellegrini told West Ham's official website. "The target is to try not to lose any more points there. We will see what we can do when we play away."
Cardiff (7-4-18) sit at the top of the drop zone, and been outscored 10-1 during a three-game Premier League losing streak. However, five of their league victories this season have come at home.
That seems enough for Pellegrini, at least in public, to be concerned. Or the very least, warn his team about taken things for granted.
"It is my duty to convince the players that the position in the table of Cardiff will mean it is a more difficult game, not an easy one," the veteran gaffer said. "(Cardiff's) position means they will be an aggressive team. We need to be a sharp team."
The Hammers looked sharp in early December, when they beat Cardiff 3-1 at home. Lucas Perez scored twice and Michail Antonio add one as all three goals came over a 12-minute stretch of the second half.
Cardiff were blanked for a second consecutive contest, 2-0 by Wolves on Saturday. That setback left the Welsh side two points from safety, though well at a disadvantage in terms of goal differential with the teams in and around them for safety.
The task for manager Neil Warnock at the moment is to make sure he can keep his side from collectively giving in to frustration. Hope is not all lost, but the Bluebirds need something to spark them to better days.
"We've got to stop feeling sorry for ourselves, though, and make our own luck," Warnock told Cardiff's official website."The players are bound to be flat when you've been beaten. If you don't care, there's something wrong, but the lads care. Now, we've got to regroup.
"I've got to regroup, too, and work out how I can get more out of the lads because they are an honest group. … We've got to show some courage now, though, and come out fighting (against West Ham United) in front of a great crowd."
Updated March 7, 2019