The Championship weekend concludes on Sunday and on a match day full of derbies we end it with one of the biggest clashes in the division as Cardiff City host their bitterest rivals Swansea City in a huge clash down in Wales.
Swansea will be looking to complete a double over Cardiff after it was them who came out on top when the two sides did battle in the reverse fixture at the Liberty Stadium earlier in the campaign. Cardiff will be desperate to avoid that happening.
It has been a strange campaign for Cardiff City so far. I don’t think anyone expected them to go straight up automatically this season but at the same time I’m not too sure too many would have had them languishing in the bottom half of the table and having already changed their manager before the turn of the year. That is where they are at though and they will clearly need an improvement to achieve any sort of goal this term.
Cardiff go into this match off the back of a 6-1 thumping to QPR in the league and even their automatic lift against fourth tier Carlisle didn’t work out as planned as they fell 2-0 down and had to bust a gut to make it back to 2-2 and get up a replay later in the week. If there is a problem for the Bluebirds it is that they simply draw too many matches. That is another thing that is going to have to change if they are to move up the table.
The Swans have had a campaign of three thirds so far. They started it really well and were actually in among the leaders in the Championship in the early stages, but shortly after they saw off their rivals in the first match they went on a six game burst without a win, but they have bounced back from that to win three of their last five. They have gone back to keeping clean sheets and are on the fringes of the top six once again.
I saw the Swans at Kenilworth Road just before Christmas and in truth I didn’t think a whole lot to them other than the technical ability that they have but you need to give them credit for the results they have picked up. That is especially the case when you think at the end of last season they lost their manager and two of their more important players. Swansea appear to be on the up and another win here would be brilliant for their fans.
Cardiff City were hoping to bring Joe Ralls back into the side after recovering from a broken hand that he picked up against Leeds but it seems there has been a slight setback to that plan, much to the annoyance of Neil Harris.
Swansea City could give a debut to on loan Liverpool striker Rhian Brewster after San Surridge returned to Bournemouth. Marc Guehi iis another on loan man who could make a debut but Mike van der Hoorn is a doubt with a knee problem.
The first match between these two was a tense and tight affair and I’m not convinced that this one is going to be any different. This clash has always been about more than three points so it is a game that neither will be able to afford to lose, or indeed prepared to lose. That could see it start out cautiously and I’m not really convinced it will light up at any stage, given the tensions that will be involved.
With all that in mind, I’m expecting goals to be at a premium in this match. Cardiff have to do something defensively, whether that is to utilise more defenders or a more cautious attitude, because they are not going to want a repeat of their last league game where they shipped six. Swansea are the lowest scorers in the top 15 and are generally hard to beat on the road. Under 2.5 goals looks good to me here.
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