With both teams enjoying a mid-week break after being knocked out of the League Cup in previous rounds, Swansea and Cardiff are set for their first Welsh derby in the Premier League.
Cardiff find themselves just outside of the relegation area after a run of 1 win 7 games and the rumours circulating about Malky Mackay’s future as manager continue with reports that Etien Velikonjat was signed last year without the Scot’s approval.
Swansea have had an adequate start to the season as they’ve struggled to cope with the effects of involvement in a European competition losing 4 games out of 6 after playing the previous Thursday. The Welsh side find themselves in 9th, but only two points separate from 17th placed Cardiff.
The Chilean midfielder has proved an important acquisition for Cardiff already with defensive displays that have already helped the Welsh side earn points that will vital for their survival come the end of the season. Medel will be needed again to deal the fluid passing style that has Swansea admirers in recent years and he’s proved this season that he can deal this.
Medel has won 27 ground duels this season, with 6 coming against Manchester City, and the most tackles for Cardiff this season (17). The worry from fans on Medel’s arrival was his aggressive streak that had plagued his career, but the former Sevilla midfielder has yet to present his ‘dark side’ at Cardiff yet with no yellow cards received and 10 fouls conceded doesn’t place Medel in the top 50. With 17 interceptions made this season already, Medel will need to add to this total if he is to successful deal with the through balls in the central areas of the pitch.
Keeping possession will be important as Cardiff will go periods in the game where Swansea will dominate and need to make sure they don’t needlessly gift the ball back. Medel has shown this season that he’s comfortable passing the ball with a passing accuracy of 90% and 94% in the defensive third.
This season has seen last year’s star player have a slower start on the goal scoring front, 2 in the league and 2 in the Europa League so far, due to the arrival of Wilfred Bony and a move back into an attacking midfield position. This position allows Michu to participate in the attacking build before making late runs into the box more often which is a major part of Michu’s game and continues to cause defenders problems.
Despite only scoring 3 goals in his last 14 Premier League games, Michu’s extra involvement in the attacking build up has seen an increase in the amount of chances created by the Spaniard. After 34 chances created throughout all of last season Michu already has 16 to his name this season – an improvement in his minutes per chance created ratio of 89 to 51 – and 1 assist means he only needs one more to equal his previous total.
The creator role that Michu has occupied more this season, he is still Swansea’s joint top goalscorer, will be tested as he faces a key battle with Gary Medel who will look to block his runs into the box and various balls played into the wingers or center forward.
Cardiff have no new injury concerns, but summer signing Andreas Cornelius is still out injured with a ankle injury.
Swansea welcome back Jonjo Shelvey after a hamstring injury, yet the game comes too soon for Ben Davies who also has an ankle injury.
Like for derby match, especially one as ferocious as Swansea v Cardiff, making a prediction is difficult as *cliché alert* the form book goes out the window. However, looking at the form book before it’s thrown out of the window Cardiff look to be the favourites with the fortune of a home crowd favouring them. Swansea will have to be at their offensive best if they are to beat Cardiff who have shown to be defensively solid – most notably against Tottenham and Norwich last week – but with a passionate home crowd urging them to attack Cardiff could be more open, and Swansea will take advance of that. Cardiff 1 Swansea 2
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