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How is Cardiff City topping the table?

Monday 28th August 2017
Few saw it coming. Cardiff City has taken maximum points from its first five matches. Are the Bluebirds ready for the Premier League? How have they done it?

The bookies had Cardiff City finishing 15th this season. In a bid to save face, many are now rewriting their predictions.

It is, of course, early days. Nonetheless, the Bluebirds are flying high. Neil Warnock has masterminded a record start to the season.

City's early success is not down to a single factor. Rather, it is a result of many ingredients. Here is the recipe for this Welsh stew.

The Manager

For perhaps the first time in a long, long while, City fans share a genuine connection with Neil Warnock. He's blood and guts, give everything on a Saturday, leave nothing on the pitch football. City faithful can see the passion in the glint of his eye, his love for the game, that he cares, and that he has instilled all that in the players.

Warnock's man-management is exceptional. Working on a very limited budget, his recruitment has been shrewd. Come match day, he demands his players put on a show for the crowd. Shots, runs, dribbles, passes, crunching challenges, they're all part of the Warnock rule-book.

Defence

Cardiff's victory over Queens Park Rangers saw the Bluebirds concede their first home goal this season. Indeed, that was just the second league goal they have permitted. Championship history tells us a stern, consistent defense is integral to promotion. Thus far, Cardiff City has it.

Sol Bamba is a warrior, a newborn pup willing to chase anything and everything. Yet, don't misread that for ill-discipline. Bamba has keen tactical intelligence. Alongside stands captain Sean Morrison, imposing and aggressive. In Aron Gunnarsson and Joe Ralls, City has a protective shield few can challenge.

Equally eager to put in shifts at both ends, Cardiff defends as a team. No one switches off or takes a rest. Collective effort has ensured the side's breathless start.

Attack

City boast one of the Championship's most vibrant front threes. Kenneth Zohore is the focal point. His hold-up play is crucial, his power unrivaled. The Dane has been targeted by several interested parties.

Though he has scored just once to date, Zohore's general play has been vital to City's attack. That strike was an important one, too. A late-minute winner on opening day kick-started Cardiff's five-match winning streak.

Zohore enables space, drawing defenders, creating room for teammates to make attacking runs. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Junior Hoilett are both happy to oblige.

Mendez-Laing has been a revelation, bagging five goals in seven appearances. His goal assured three points away to Wolves last weekend. A direct run culminating in a curling volley forced a corner against QPR that resulted in a Cardiff goal.

Hoilett, too, has been exceptional. Renewed under Warnock's stewardship, the Canadian's trickery and incisive running menace opposition defenders.

When a team has a solid defence and a potent attack, it has a recipe for promotion. City fans can't wait for the meal to be served.
Michael Jones

Football & political writer with a predictable love of everything retro. English Literature undergraduate at the University of Exeter, looking to pursue a career in sports journalism. For a collection of my work, visit. http://mikejonesmedia.wordpress.com

Follow me on twitter: @jonesmichael_97


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