Tactically speaking - Cardiff City

Tactically speaking

West Ham United

Matt Taylor

Ahead of the trip to Cardiff City this weekend, football statistics website WhoScored.com have found the way West Ham can make it three wins from three against the Bluebirds this season. In the corresponding fixture earlier this season, goals from Joe Cole and Kevin Nolan eased West Ham to victory in what was Cardiff's first-ever Premier League game.

The recent form of the south Wales side has left Cardiff anxiously looking over their shoulders in 17th place in Premier League table, having won only one of their last ten games - a run that saw Malky Mackay relieved of his duties at the Cardiff City Stadium and replaced by former Manchester United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Moreover, the recent head-to-head record between the two teams suggests that the Hammers will come away with maximum points having won their last five meetings in all competitions, conceding only twice in the process.

Cardiff have conceded 32 goals in England's top tier this season, only Fulham (42), Norwich City and Sunderland (both 33) have shipped more, which should give West Ham optimism going into the game.

A statistically calculated WhoScored.com weakness of Cardiff's happens to be 'defending set pieces' and it's here where West Ham can potentially undo Saturday's opponents. Defensively shaky when repelling attacks from free-kicks or corners, Matthew Taylor - who has made six appearances this season, four of which have been as a sub - if selected can utilise his ability from dead-ball situations to put the Cardiff defence under pressure, with the 32-year-old boasting strengths of 'direct free kicks' and 'taking set-pieces'.

Taylor is renowned for his ability from set plays and has showcased this facet of his game in the past. Having conceded four times from set-pieces this term, Cardiff have struggled from these situations in their debut Premier League campaign.

When focusing on the West Ham team and their potential threat from free-kicks, Modibo Maiga and Mohamed Diamé are the logical duo that will look to net from these situations, having had seven and five headed attempts, respectively. Provided he's on free-kick duty, Taylor has the ability pick out the duo, amongst others, from set-piece situations, leading to goalscoring opportunities for the Hammers.

Cardiff's weakness from set-pieces is there to be taken advantage of by West Ham and should they maximise this aspect, Sam Allardyce's side can surely take all three points back to the capital on Saturday evening.

*WhoScored.com is a website and one of the fastest growing in the sports industry, specialising in the in-depth analysis of detailed football data. Follow @WhoScored on Twitter.

Cardiff City

The Official Website takes an in-depth look at how Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Cardiff City might line up in the Norwegian's first Barclays Premier League game in charge on Saturday.

Possible starting XI


McNaughton  Caulker  Turner  John

Medel  Gunnarsson

Noone  Kim  Whittingham


Predicting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first Barclays Premier League starting XI is no easy task.

The new Cardiff City manager opted to rest a number of players who had been first-team regulars under predecessor Malky Mackay for last weekend's 2-1 FA Cup with Budweiser third round win at Newcastle United.

Having scored a superb victory at St James' Park, the Norwegian will have to decide whether the likes of Kevin McNaughton, Mark Hudson, Don Cowie, Peter Odemwingie and Andreas Cornelius did enough to keep their places.

To make matters even more complicated, Cardiff roared back from a goal down only after Solskjaer had introduced winger Craig Noone and match-winner Fraizer Campbell from the bench, with both scoring.

In terms of playing style, Cardiff stuck with their tried and tested 4-5-1 formation, with the presence of two defensive midfielders meaning it can be switched to a 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1 depending on the circumstances of the game in question.

The Bluebirds' biggest problem this season has been scoring goals, with only Crystal Palace (13) scoring fewer than Cardiff's 15 league strikes this term.

When they do attack, Cardiff like to get the ball wide and deliver crosses into the box for the central striker and his supporting midfield players to attack.

Defensively, the Welshmen have also been susceptible, allowing their opponents to enjoy 56 per cent of possession and unleash a worrying 18 shots per game on their own goal.

That statistic will be of no comfort to No1 goalkeeper David Marshall, who has started all but one of Cardiff's 20 league matches this season. The Scotland international is a solid all-round stopper.

In front of him, who will start in defence is something of a guessing game.

At right-back, Frenchman Kévin Théophile-Catherine will hope to return to the team after a knee injury. An athletic, attack-minded full-back, Théophile-Catherine likes to get forward and put crosses in. Should he fail to recover, the experienced McNaughton will continue. The Scot is a more defensive player noted for his strong tackling and ability to block and intercept shots and passes.

At left-back, teenager Declan John played at Newcastle in the absence of the injured Andrew Taylor and is likely to keep his place.

In the centre, summer signing Steven Caulker is likely to return to the side. Right-sided, Caulker is tall and assured in possession. His partner will be left-sided Ben Turner, who is a traditional centre-half in that he heads, tackles and clears the ball without ceremony.

The defensive midfield positions are likely to be filled by Gary Medel and Aron Gunnarsson. Medel is a tenacious Chile international who breaks up the play with his tackling and intercepting talents, before keeping it simple in possession. 'The Pitbull' has completed a team-high 88.7 per cent of his 1,003 attempted passes.

Iceland international Gunnarsson is less defensive-minded but equally likes to play the ball short to his more forward-thinking team-mates.

Gunnarsson could lose his place to new boy Magnus Wolff Eikrem, a Norway international central midfielder who played under Solskjaer at Molde and joined Cardiff from Dutch side Heerenveen in midweek. Eikrem can bring the ball forward at his feet or create chances for others with his passing, while he is not afraid to do the defensive dirty work when required, too.

On the right-hand side of the three attacking midfielders, Noone is a winger who loves nothing more than running with the ball, crossing or cutting inside and letting fly.

On the left, Peter Whittingham is arguably Cardiff's most creative player. An outstanding technician, Whittingham creates chances from open play with his passing and crossing, and from set plays with his pinpoint deliveries. He can also shoot with power and accuracy from distance. He has a team-high four league assists this season.

Other options in wide areas include diminutive dribbler Jordon Mutch - who has scored four goals - Scot Don Cowie and skilful and elusive Nigeria international Peter Odemwingie.

In the centre, South Korean Kim Bo-Kyung is a neat and tidy player who can pass or dribble competently and break up opposition attacks by being in the right place at the right time to intercept the ball.

Finally, in attack, Dane Cornelius started at Newcastle but his place is likely to go to Campbell. The 26-year-old is not the biggest but he is strong, willing and can score goals with his head and feet, as he has done on four occasions in the Barclays Premier League this term.

Should Cornelius keep his place, he is tall and strong and likely to tempt the Bluebirds to play with a more direct style.