Derby Day Preview: Swansea vs Cardiff

Swansea endured another frustrating outing against West Ham on Saturday, as they fell to a 2-0 defeat thanks to a brace from Hammers captain Kevin Nolan. A difficult weekend was followed by the news that Michael Laudrup would no longer continue as Swansea manager, with Garry Monk taking charge ahead of this week’s game against local rivals Cardiff.

Despite struggling for sustained form at times this season, Swansea have not abandoned their philosophy of utilising their superior passing technique over more bullish tactics according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. They are the only team outside the top 10 in the Premier League to have two or more players featured in the top 20 for passes completed in the opponent’s half (Jonathan de Guzman – 697; Jonjo Shelvey – 636).


Indeed, this is a philosophy shared throughout this talented squad. Swansea are the only team in the bottom half of the table to have six or more players in their squad currently with 400 or more completed passes in the opponent’s half to their names (Shelvey, Chico, Ben Davies, Jonathan de Guzman, Angel Rangel, Jose Canas).


Chico Flores will have a vital role to play in stopping a Cardiff strike force high on confidence after their comeback against West Ham last weekend. The Spanish centre-half has made more total defensive contributions (blocks, clearances, interceptions, tackles won) than any other Swans player this term, with an overall tally of 270.


Goals have been hard to come by in recent weeks for the Swans, and the fans will no doubt be keen to see Michu back fit and firing sooner rather than later. Only he and Nathan Dyer have shot accuracy rates of greater than 50%, Michu so far working the ‘keeper with 56.5% of his 23 attempts on goal and Dyer currently sitting on 56.3% from 16 shots. Michu is 5/4 to score at any time this weekend with


Local derbies are always heated affairs and even when players have not grown up with this kind of rivalry, the electric atmosphere in the stands can often filter down to the pitch. Angel Rangel may well need to be mindful of his tackling technique as a result this weekend, as although he has an admirable tackle success rate of 66.2% from 68 attempts, he’s also committed the second highest number of fouls in the Swansea squad with 27. A cool head in the heat of battle could be crucial.


A stirring fightback from Cardiff saw them eventually emerge as 2-1 winners over Norwich to give them their first three points under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Two goals in quick succession from Craig Bellamy and Kenwyne Jones cancelled out Robert Snodgrass’ early strike in a vital win for the Bluebirds which lifts them off the foot of the Premier League table.


Solskjaer was renowned for being a poacher with supreme instincts during his illustrious career in English football with Manchester Utd, and fellow Old Trafford alumnus Frazier Campbell will be hoping to continue his forward-education under his new manager. On his day Campbell can be lethal, but he has enjoyed an up-and-down season so far according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, so far being on target with only 41% of his 27 attempts on goal.


Jordon Mutch has been a consistent threat for the Bluebirds this term, repeatedly turning in some great performances in big fixtures. They don’t come much bigger than this weekend’s clash though, so expect Mutch to be central once again, much as he was against Norwich. Although he didn’t manage to get on the scoresheet, he had more attempts on goal during the last round than any other Cardiff player with 4, 50% of which were on-target. Mutch is 13/2 to score at any time this weekend with


Much like Angel Rangel for the Swans though, Mutch will have to watch his discipline in what will no doubt be a fiery arena for both sets of players. He’s conceded more fouls than any other Cardiff player this season (30), as well as having the lowest tackle success rate of any Cardiff midfielder to have attempted more than 30 tackles (58.1% success rate from 43 attempts). Expect Solskjaer to be looking to channel his talented midfielder’s commitment in a more positive way this weekend.


Disrupting Swansea’s potential dominance in the middle of the park could be crucial to Cardiff’s chances this weekend, as if you let the likes of Shelvey, Dyer and De Guzman get into their rhythm then it’s always going to be a struggle to get the ball back from them. Key to this strategy could be Gary Medel, the diminutive Chilean being a ferocious defender and expert in breaking up the opposition’s patterns. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, he’s made more interceptions than any other Cardiff player this season, with 42 to his name.