The FourFourTwo Preview: Swansea vs Cardiff
Hang on, it kicks-off at what time…?!
It's hard to gauge whether this is the best or worst possible time for Cardiff to head down the M4 and visit their neighbours at the Liberty Stadium.
- West Ham 2-0 Swansea (Prem)
- Swansea 2–0 Fulham (Prem)
- Birmingham 1–2 Swansea (FAC)
- Swansea 1–3 Spurs (Prem)
- Man Utd 2–0 Swansea (Prem)
- Cardiff 2-1 Norwich (Prem)
- Man Utd 2–0 Cardiff (Prem)
- Bolton 0–1 Cardiff (FAC)
- Man City 4–2 Cardiff (Prem)
- Cardiff 0–2 West Ham (Prem)
On the one hand, Swansea are in pretty dire shape - they've lost six of the last eight and are very much in the relegation mire, and could now be thrown into further disarray thanks to the sudden departure of Michael Laudrup. On the other hand, Cardiff are in pretty dire shape - they've lost six of the last eight and are very much in the relegation mire, and could now be thrown into Swansea Bay by their suddenly reinvigorated hosts.
That's a long-winded and probably less-amusing-than-anticipated way of saying it's hard to know what to expect from Swansea, both on Saturday and in the weeks ahead. It has been suggested that caretaker boss Garry Monk will adopt a back-to-basics approach akin to the one used by Tim Sherwood at Tottenham, but given Monk has been a part of Swansea's rise since their League Two days, it's unlikely he'll change too much.
This season may not have gone to plan for the Swans, but it's certainly salvageable. Picking up enough points to avoid the drop is certainly well within their capabilities, while their ongoing FA Cup run - not to mention their upcoming Europa League meeting with Napoli - could yet bring much excitement.
Lifting the gloom is key to that, and what better way of doing so than by avenging their November defeat to their local rivals?
Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm is unlikely to have recovered sufficiently from a knee injury to take his place between the sticks, so Gerhard Tremmel will deputise. The Swans will also be without Jonjo Shelvey (hamstring), Jose Cañas (ankle) and Michu (ankle).
Cardiff's biggest injury concerns are at the back, with Mark Hudson (hamstring) and Andrew Taylor (calf) both likely to miss out.
Key battle: Chico Flores vs Kenwyne Jones
Swansea's Spanish centre-back has been in the headlines this week, following the clash that led to Andy Carroll's controversial red card in last weekend's defeat at West Ham. Chico took to Twitter to defend himself (hey, it's 2014) against claims of play-acting, suggesting Hammers fans should be more worried about their own team's 'ugly' football. He'll be up against another hulking centre-forward this weekend, in the form of Cardiff new boy Jones. The Trinidadian target man scored on his Bluebirds debut in the crucial win over Norwich last weekend, and will give Swansea's defence a real test - particularly in the air. Chico won just 1 of his 6 aerial duels last time out, and Cardiff may well see that as an area to exploit.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- C'diff 1-0 Swans (Prem, Nov 13)
- Swans 0-1 C'diff (Ch’ship, Feb 11)
- C'diff 0-1 Swans (Ch’ship, Nov 10)
- C'diff 2-1 Swans (Ch’ship, Apr 10)
- Swans 3-2 C'diff (Ch’ship, Nov 09)
Monk will make his debut in the dugout, four weeks before turning 35. Monk didn't face Solskjaer during his playing career. The only time the defender played against Manchester United, during his time with Southampton, the Red Devils striker was injured. The Norwegian had retired by the time Monk returned to the Premier League with the Swans in 2011.
TIPS & TRENDS
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Facts and figures
- There have been at least 3 goals in 21 of Swansea’s 31 home matches since the start of last season.
- Swansea have drawn 8 of their 15 home games against bottom-half teams since the start of last season.
- The last 3 derbies between these teams have been goalless at half-time and then decided by 1 second-half goal each time.
- Cardiff have failed to score in 6 of their last 8 away matches.
- Both teams have lost 6 of their last 8 matches making them the 2 worst teams in the league in this period.
Best Bet: Second half to be the most scoring half @ 2.15
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Swansea to play well and win, because that's how football works. 2-0.