Premier League: Cardiff vs Chelsea preview

Top-four contenders Chelsea are looking to bounce back after the international break but they will face a tough away match on Sunday as they visit relegation-threatened Cardiff at Cardiff City Stadium. The reverse fixture produced a 4-1 victory for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, with a goal from Willian and a hat-trick from Eden Hazard after Sol Bamba had opened the scoring for Cardiff. Chelsea have won the last four direct matches in all competitions, while Cardiff have not won a league match against the Blues since 1981, when both teams were playing in Division Two.

Cardiff are struggling to survive in the Premier League but they are not doomed yet, they are just two points away from safety and they have a game in hand on seventeenth-placed Burnley. Before the international break Cardiff managed to grab a vital win, 2-0 at home against West Ham, ending a string of three consecutive defeats. That was their sixth home victory of the season in the Premier League, and their third victory in the last six matches. Sol Bamba will be unable to play in this match due to an injury, while Callum Paterson, Joe Bennett and Harry Arter will need to pass late fitness tests.

Chelsea are not having the season they were hoping for, and manager Maurizio Sarri is probably beginning to feel more and more pressure to deliver results. Before the international break the Blues were defeated 2-0 at Everton, ending their five-match unbeaten streak in all competitions. That result dropped them to sixth place, three points behind fourth-placed Arsenal, and missing out on a top-four finish would most likely lead to the manager's sacking at the end of the season. Callum Hudson-Odoi played very well for England during the international break and he might get a chance to shine for the Blues, even though Pedro probably remains first-choice for the manager.

Probable line-ups:

Cardiff: Etheridge - Peltier, Manga, Morrison, Bennett - Ralls, Gunnarsson - Murphy, Camarasa, Hoilett - Niasse

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga - Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Emerson - Kante, Jorginho, Barkley - Pedro, Higuain, Hazard

My prediction: Chelsea to win 2-1, it will be a tough match with great determination on both sides, but the Blues should make their superior quality count.

Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:

Cardiff win - 9.00
Draw - 4.50
Chelsea win - 1.44

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