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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Cardiff can end Aston Villa's hopes of snatching second

Draw looks the best bet in crucial Championship clash

Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce
1 of 1

Sky Bet Championship
Sky Sports Football/Main Event, 7.45pm Tuesday

A pair of missed penalties away from extending their unbeaten league run to 14 matches on Friday night, Cardiff City can avoid defeat at Aston Villa against Steve Bruce's inconsistent side.

The Bluebirds were kicking themselves for failing to snatch a point off Sky Bet Championship leaders Wolves when Gary Madine and Junior Hoilett both missed from 12 yards during added time in their 1-0 loss.

There was a crumb of comfort the following day when Villa lost abjectly at Norwich, though Fulham's subsequent win at Sheffield Wednesday ensures the battle for the second automatic promotion spot is still simmering.

Cardiff would effectively end Villa's prospects of snatching that place by not losing in Birmingham and the evidence suggests they can do that.

Neil Warnock's charges haven't lost an away game since New Year's Day. Warnock himself has a dismal record away at Steve Bruce-managed sides – played six, lost six – but this particular Bruce team are really tricky to predict.

Certainly Villa fans are getting increasingly perturbed by the lack of any inspiration from a team who have won just one of their last five, a 3-0 defeat of a Reading side who were reduced to ten men after half an hour.

It has been a roller-coaster season for Villa under Bruce. When they get their pace aces running well they look a threat but one of those, Jonathan Kodjia, is only just being nursed back to fitness. Jack Grealish is pretty much their only spark and a super-organised and teak-tough Cardiff rearguard will put a target on the back of the home playmaker.

Champions League previews

Man City v Liverpool

Roma v Barcelona

Villa lost 3-0 at Cardiff earlier in the campaign but they have lost only twice at home all season.

Warnock would be happy simply avoiding defeat and retaining control of the race for second and the draw looks a fair bet.

1pt 12-5 bet365

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Team news
Aston Villa
Alan Hutton is still out while fit-again Jonathan Kodjia is set for a place on the bench.

Matt Connolly and Joe Ralls should be available after lay-offs. Jazz Richards is still sidelined.

Key stat
Cardiff have lost only one of their last 14 league games.

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Warnock himself has a dismal record away at Steve Bruce-managed sides – played six, lost six
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