Sunday, November 3, 2013 at 11:00 ET on NBCSN
The 106th edition of the South Wales Derby will make its first appearance in the Premier League on Sunday. Cardiff City will host Swansea City in a fixture that has had its share of blood on and off the pitch. It is somewhat unfortunate that this derby has been absent for almost three years (last played on February 6, 2011). However, there has been no grander a stage than the one at Cardiff City Stadium this weekend.
First played in 1912, the South Wales Derby has been viewed by many as one of the more entertaining in all of British football. With a history of crowd fracases, this derby has two sets of fans that want nothing more than pain for the others. An example came just this week as Cardiff City fans hacked the Swansea City website and using a number of derogatory terms to describe the Swans and their fan base.
This week’s fixture between the two Welsh sides will see two teams facing different Premier League battles. Cardiff are currently fighting the relegation zone as well as instability in the front office. Vincent Tan came into Cardiff’s first season in the Premier League with lofty expectations (some reports saying he wanted a Top 4 finish). Malky Mackay has been rumored to be out for a few weeks now following the firing of the club’s Chief Scout Iain Moody. All the while, Cardiff are still a point clear of the relegation zone, and have not shown any promise of attacking football for much of the season. Rather, they have relied on their defensive shape and gritty play that comes with a Mackay-led club.
On the other side, Swansea, now Premier League regulars are attempting to balance the difficulties of the Europa League with the Premier League. Rumors of transfers for Ashley Williams and Michu continue to circle with the January window approaching. But the Swans have begun to show a solid run of form of late with a 4-0 thrashing of Sunderland followed by a hard fought 0-0 draw with West Ham in less than ideal weather conditions. Still, Michael Laudrup’s side needs to continue their solid form in order to make their way into the European places.
So what should be expected this weekend? For Cardiff, they are finally going to be fully healthy as Andreas Cornelius’ lingering injury appears to be clear if Mackay so chooses to put him on the team sheet. Furthermore, having the fixture at Cardiff City Stadium will provide Cardiff with a much needed boost while they try to add some separation from Norwich and Stoke (both a point behind Cardiff). Swansea will see this match as an opportunity to set sights on the top third of the table. And, although the last derby was in 2011, the result was a 1-0 win for Cardiff at the Liberty Stadium. Craig Bellamy provided that goal and will look to do the same as he is set to return to the Cardiff lineup.
As mentioned, Cardiff will be at full strength for this fixture. This will only be the second league match in which they can make this claim. Swansea are still without the services of Jonjo Shelvey and Ben Davies. These two absences could prove important as Shelvey has shown moments of creativity and Davies has emerged as a star for both Swansea and Wales.
Cardiff – Marshall, Theophile-Catherine, Caulker, Turner, Taylor, Medel, Bellamy, Mutch, Gunnarsson, Whittingham, Odemwingie
Swansea – Vorm, Taylor, Chico, Williams, Rangel, Britton, Dyer, Routledge, De Guzman, Michu, Bony
As much as this would seem to favor Swansea due to consistency and depth in their squad, this is the South Wales Derby. Historically, Swansea have shined in the league fixtures winning 20 and drawing 16 of the 54 matches. However, this match will feel like that of the Manchester City fixture at the Cardiff City Stadium earlier this season. It is hard to bet against the home side getting points. But, it is too difficult to go against the smart play of a draw. At the final whistle, do not be surprised to see a 2-2 draw and possibly some fans of both sides trying to brawl in the parking lot.