Swansea must up their game for Monk against Cardiff
As if there wasn’t enough riding on this derby, suddenly Swansea are as desperate for points as Cardiff. They may be just below mid-table in the Premier League, but they’re only three points ahead of their fierce South Wales rivals, who lie second bottom, and the consequences of another defeat are potentially very serious.
Cardiff fans, mocked mercilessly over the antics of owner Vincent Tan, are now wallowing in the discomfort of their Welsh neighbours following this week’s sacking of manager Michael Laudrup.
And Bluebirds’ supporters will be licking their lips at the increased likelihood of doing a League double over Swansea for the first time in their history..
Coral bet 4/5 Swansea, 7/2 Cardiff and 5/2 the draw and the away side would appear to provide the value given the current circumstances.
But it is quite possible that the Swans might just find their form again now that the Dane has been shown the door and replaced (in the short term at least) by veteran defender Garry Monk.
There have been rumours of disquiet in the dressing room, but it seems that the Swansea management were also irritated by the highly-regarded Laudrup’s frequent links in the media to other bigger clubs.
But don’t people have short memories? Less than a year ago Laudrup was overseeing a Wembley triumph and a ticket into Europe.
And though Swansea’s form has dipped quite alarmingly in recent months, it has surely had a lot to do with their tough mid-winter fixture list. Yes, they have lost six of their last eight Premier League games, but five of those defeats were to Spurs, Chelsea, Everton and the two Manchester clubs.
On top of that, Laudrup lost talismanic Michu to injury – how ironic that the Spanish striker is now on the verge of joining forces again with Wilfried Bony up front.
Cardiff had an instant return from Man United loanee Wilfried Zaha last weekend; by all accounts he was their man of the match after coming off the bench to help secure a vital 2-1 win over Norwich.
Craig Bellamy was on the scoresheet again to become the first ever player to score for seven different Premier League clubs [can you name the other six? Answers below*].
So was the mercurial Kenwyne Jones (15/8 to score again, 8/1 first or last) and with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also able to call upon Fraizer Campbell and Joe Berget, Cardiff may well have the firepower to get out of the hole they’re in.
At the moment Coral make them 5/4 to be relegated, behind only Fulham (1/2) and Crystal Palace (evens), but we have seen already how just a couple of good results can lift a team clear of the mire.
Few seriously think that Swansea will go down (8/1), not yet anyway. But a derby victory will be particularly welcome after the week they’ve had and I fancy they might just edge it, maybe 2-1 (8/1).
* Cardiff, Manchester City, West Ham, Liverpool, Blackburn, Newcastle and Coventry.