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Cardiff City-Bournemouth Preview
For the first time since 2013-14, Cardiff City will play in the top-flight division of English soccer.
The Bluebirds officially return to the Premier League on Saturday when they visit Vitality Stadium to take on Bournemouth.
"We'll go to Bournemouth now and give it our best shot, that's for sure," well-traveled, Cardiff manager Neil Warnock told the Welsh side's official website.
Giving it their best shot is all Cardiff can ask in this return to the Premier League. They earned promotion with a second-place finish in the Championship last season, but hope their stay in the top-tier is longer than the last.
Cardiff finished at the bottom of the table in 2013-14 after being promoted for that campaign.
Naturally, the current Cardiff players believe better days are ahead for this year's side, and they do have the success of last season's promoted clubs to use as motivation.
"The three teams that went up (to the Premier League) last season stayed up, which shows when you work hard and have momentum from getting promoted from the Championship," defender Greg Cunningham said. "The boys did great last year, and we're hoping that with the additions we've had to improve the squad, we can make it a season to remember."
In addition to Cunningham arriving from Preston North End, former Queens Park Rangers keeper Alex Smithies has settled in Cardiff.
Up front, Junior Hoilett and Kenneth Zohore remain the club's top options after each scored nine goals during the 2017-18 Championship stay.
The Bluebirds made news this week by reportedly acquiring midfielder Harry Arter from Bournemouth, who enter the season looking to build on a solid effort from last campaign.
Eddie Howe's group placed 12th in the Premier League, going 11-11-16 to secure a fourth consecutive top-flight stay. A late season stretch that featured one win over 10 games hindered the Cherries' chances for a better finish, but they did conclude the term with back-to-back victories against relegated Swansea City and feel-good darlings Burnley.
Lewis Cook remains with the club after Tottenham Hotspur showed interest in the talented 21-year-old midfielder. Big things are expected from him along with 23-year-old newcomer Jefferson Lerma, who saw action with Colombia at the World Cup this summer, and arrives from La Liga side Levante.
Lerma signed a five-year contract reportedly worth a club-record £25 million fee.
"Jefferson is an extremely talented player and a very good athlete who will bring a different type of play to our midfield," Howe told Bournemouth's official website. "He has a lot of qualities that will be suited to the Premier League."
While Lewis and Lerma represent Bournemouth's youth, veteran Jermain Defoe is trying to prove he still has gas left in the tank. Defoe, who turns 36 in October, had just four goals in 26 matches over all competitions last season.
Newcomers David Brooks in the midfield and defender Diego Rico also could be counted on to consistently contribute.
Asmir Begovic, meanwhile, is poised for another strong season in the Premier League after the former Chelsea keeper recorded 111 saves in 2017-18.
Updated August 9, 2018