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Michael Taylor 26th Mar 2010 - 17:24

The Eagles need to be wary of the Bluebirds’ threat

Crystal Palace's eventful season has seen them giant kill in the FA Cup, hover around the playoff places and, more recently, sink into the relegation zone and now every point really does count in their Championship fight.

They head into this Saturday's game with promotion chasing Cardiff in dire straits after a journey into administration cost them their Premier League dreams, owner, manager and star player all within the space of a couple of months.

The Eagles now know that the last glimmer of light in their season, Championship survival, is in real danger of slipping away too after a run of five matches without a win.

The prognosis ahead of this weekend's live on Sky game doesn't look good either as the Bluebirds travel to Selhurst Park hoping to make it ten points from the last four games to further cement their playoff position.

Coming in just a tad below being a Portsmouth or Chester fan, being a Palace supporter has to rank amongst one of the more depressing Saturday afternoon activities at the moment.

They may not have been blessed with the best squad or internal organisation in August yet the spirit Neil Warnock brought to the dressing room and the class Victor Moses displayed on the pitch sent the Eagles soaring up the table.

A top six finish was a realistic aim and everybody could see why as they firstly put paid to Wolves before running Aston Villa oh so close in a heroic FA Cup effort, those memories seem so long ago now.

Paul Hart is the new man at the helm and the former Nottingham Forest, Barnsley, Portsmouth...too many to list manager seems a perfect choice to oversee the instamatic plummet after a history of little achievement and much failure.

In all fairness to Hart he hasn't been terrible since his arrival with the 1-0 home win against Sheffield United a great start, even if that remains his sole win.

Warnock's presence around the club can still be felt with hard workers like Shaun Derry and Johnny Ertl keeping them compact in midfield and Clint Hill and Matthew Lawrence bringing vital experience in front of Julian Speroni.

The problem with Palace though is that they have no goals in them.

Darren Ambrose has slowed down since setting alight earlier in the season, Alan Lee is a battler but lacks the pace and prowess to be a regular scorer while Stern John hasn't really got into the swing of things his summer transfer.

And it's for this exact reason that I can't see the Eagles coming away with anything this weekend as they come up against a Cardiff side that oozes goal scoring potential.

Jay Bothroyd doesn't travel through suspension but in Ross McCormack, Michael Chopra and Championship scoring leader Peter Whittingham they have the ability to carve defences open almost at will.

If Paul Hart can keep his defence well organised then I don't think the Bluebirds will run riot, I do think they'll have more than enough to edge away from their struggling opponents though.

In the absence of Bothroyd, Chopra should get a start and I fancy the former Newcastle man could be the difference maker with that little bit of extra quality he displays.

He's 11/2 to score the first goal of the game and 6/4 as an anytime scorer both prices looking reasonable enough to me, however for a little extra value I'd look towards the wincast market with a Chopra goal and City win available at a much better 9/1.

In terms of how the game pans out I can't see goals being the flavour of the day with the main message coming from both Paul Hart and Dave Jones being discipline.

On paper Cardiff have the better team, they also have the form, so 6/4 about an away win would easily be my pick from the 90 minutes betting market while 13/2 about 1-0 also looks inviting.

However, if I had to pick one market from our range of 178 different bets then it would have to be the 10/11 about Cardiff on the draw no bet market.

At just a shade under evens you'd struggle to find a better price anywhere as Cardiff look to polish off a strong run that has all but ensured they'll be in the mix when it comes to the playoffs, especially when Palace continue to endure a devastating demise.



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