Feb 6, 2014, 2:14 PM EDT
- The last time this fixture was played at Liberty Stadium, Craig Bellamy scored the winner for Cardiff City.
- If Premier League games ended at half-time so far this season, Cardiff would be bottom by seven points, Swansea would be 19th.
- If Swansea lose this match it will be the first time they’ve ever lost three consecutive league games to their arch-rivals.
The second Premier League installment of the South Wales derby is set to take place Saturday 12:30pm ET on free to air NBC and streaming via Live Extra. Last time these two sides met a first half chess match turned into an up-tempo second half laced with bruising tackles and a single goal, from Cardiff’s Steven Caulker.
This time around the Welsh sides head to the Liberty Stadium where the atmosphere will be intense as the two relegation-threatened sides play out one of the best rivalries in the Premier League. Swansea City enter the match 12th in the table but just two points clear of the relegation zone. Making matters worse, the Swans must make do with long time defender Gary Monk at the helm after chairman Huw Jenkins fired manager Michael Laudrup earlier this week.
The firing comes after a poor domestic run of form where Swansea won only a single league match in their last ten. Part of the poor results has come from the caliber of the clubs Swansea have faced (Everton, Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City) but injuries to key players Michu and Michel Vorm have also dulled the club’s typically sharp play. Last week was one of the club’s weakest performances of the season, dropping a 2-0 decision to an under-whelming West Ham side.
Cardiff come into the weekend with a bit more kick to their step, having beaten Norwich 2-1 last Saturday. It was the Bluebirds first league victory since the 1-0 triumph over West Brom on December 14th. Very much a club settling into its own under new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Cardiff made some key acquisitions in the January transfer window brining in Fabio and Wilfried Zaha from Manchester United, swapping Kenwyne Jones for Peter Odemwingie and buying three Norweigians, Magnus Wolff Eikrem, Mats Moller Daehli and Jo Inge Berget.
Critically for Swansea, Michu (ankle) and Vorm (knee) may both make their returns from injury while Jonjo Shelvey (hamstring) and Jose Canas (ankle) are late fitness tests. For Cardiff, defender Andrew Taylor remains sidelined with a calf injury while Mark Hudson is out for an extended period with a hamstring problem.
What They’re Saying
Caretaker manager Gary Monk: “It’s massive. The circumstances make it even bigger but we are focused on the football now. We lost the first game at their place and they will want to do us at our place. These are the sorts of games you want to play in and be a part of.”
Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer : “I know about the history of this fixture… I am aware there has never been a league double. This may be the time…. There is a passion among Cardiff fans which I knew about before and has been evident since I arrived. We understand what this fixture means to the fans.”
It’s almost impossible to predict how Swansea will react to Laudrup’s firing. Typically players raise their level to impress the new manager but with Monk at the helm it could be a different story. At the end of the day, this match requires no greater motivation. Feels like a draw so what a special story it will be when the Swans pull this one off.
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