The Thursday Preview: Cardiff Vs Swansea
Maybe it’s a myth, but the fortunes of geographically-related clubs often seem intertwined. A full-blown post could probably be written on this no doubt, but for now I’m just going to throw it out there and use it as a preamble to this week’s premeditations…
Just as last season was an awful one for the clubs in the North East and this year’s has been a struggle for Devon’s trio, South Wales neighbours Swansea and Cardiff have both enjoyed strong campaigns. They’ve perhaps ebbed and flowed at different times, Cardiff starting out of the blocks with real intent, Swansea taking a little longer to get into their stride, but both sit pretty in the top 6 and there’s a genuine possibility that the Principality will have a top flight club next season.
As the Swans will know all too well, Blackpool for one are coming up strong in the final sprint for the play-offs, so Saturday’s game is much more important than mere local pride. We all know that the Bluebird’s debt is going nowhere, and organic Swansea’s primed squad could potentially be broken up on the whim of a Premiership manager, so this season’s play-offs represent an excellent opportunity to push on.
Based on form across the last 8 games, Swansea are just a point above the bottom three, so it’s Cardiff who go into the match with confidence. Their recent run has been just fine and although supposed dangerman Michael Chopra has scored a paltry 3 league goals since September, impressive recent hauls from Championship top scorer Peter Whittingham and lithe winger Chris Burke have kept things ticking over nicely. Team news proved hard to come by in amongst a host of vitriolic threads on this Bluebirds board, but an article breaking news of Gabor Gyepes’s injury speaks of something of an injury crisis with Gyepes, Burke, Mark Hudson and Joe Ledley all missing for a start.
Having not played since a disappointing, but not entirely unpredictable, stalemate against Ipswich last Saturday, Paulo Sousa is hoping that his team will be somewhat fresher. Swansea’s small squad clearly felt the strain over a busy March, and their inability to score goals is starting to alarm, but they at least stand as good a chance as they ever will, equipped as they are with a nigh-on fully-fit squad.
I do not have a clue which way this one will go, which is one of the reasons that Sky have picked up the game. Quite unbelievably, it kicks off at 5.20pm because Sky don’t want their showpiece between United and Chelsea kicking off at teatime. Even though there’s plenty who don’t need an excuse like a five hour session in the boozer to cause trouble, the authorities have deemed it safe to go ahead. I think we know who wears the trousers these days.