Cardiff City midfielder Joe Ralls scored a hat-trick as he helped his side to a much-needed 4-2 victory over Birmingham in the Welsh capital on Saturday afternoon.
Ralls pulled Cardiff level from the spot in the first half following Kristian Pedersen’s opener for the visitors and he then added a further two goals during the second period, with the last of these also being a penalty.
The 26-year-old delivered an all-round accomplished performance as he played a key role in securing his side their first victory since early October, while the Bluebirds also extended their unbeaten home run in the Championship this term.
Ralls’ display further emphasised his importance in the midfield of this Cardiff side, with the former Yeovil loanee having played every minute of league action he has been able to, excluding the two matches where he was injured.
Here, we take a look back at some of Ralls’ statistics from the season so far…
Would you say Ralls is Cardiff's most important player?
Ralls has featured in the vast majority of Cardiff’s league matches this term. He was absent with an injury during the clashes against QPR and West Brom, but he has still managed a total of 1267 minutes with Warnock seeking to include the 26-year-old at every opportunity.
The midfielder has scored five goals during these matches with the first two of these coming against Wigan and Huddersfield before he netted his hat-trick on Saturday. Two of Ralls’ goals against the Blues may have come from the spot, but he showed great composure when tucking both penalties away and he ultimately looked good value for his hat-trick.
Ralls’ overall game play is where he is most important to Cardiff. Warnock places great emphasis on his side winning the midfield battle given the quality of players he has in the area, and Ralls has been a key part of this by completing 57.3% successful actions during the season so far. Cardiff have sometimes found themselves on the back foot this campaign, but Ralls comes out on top in most of his battles to give his side the best possible platform going forward.
The 26-year-old tends to keep thing simple when in possession, but his stats still suggest he is very comfortable on the ball as he has recorded 77.6% passing accuracy and 58.6% successful dribbles. It is important that there is somebody capable of dictating play in the midfield area, and Ralls is certainly capable of providing this presence.
Finally, Ralls also possesses defensive attributes and he has made an average of 3.62 interceptions per game this term. This demonstrates his ability to consistently read the game to win the ball back for his side, and it further elucidates the well-rounded ability that Ralls brings to this Cardiff side.