In the match against Crystal Palace, where Swansea didn't sparkle, yet still managed to walk away with the best away win in almost three years, I feel reassured. What will happen in a game when they don’t just sparkle, but fully explode?
Well, a great time for this explosion would be on Sunday – Swansea vs. Cardiff. The derby. Up there with the worlds’ most famous sporting rivalries: Wales vs. England, Italy vs. Brazil, Liverpool vs. Everton and Shenzhen Xiangxue Eisiti vs. Guangzhou Pharmaceutical F.C. (yes, that’s an actual derby, though maybe not as celebrated as the others).
The South Wales Derby promises to be a fine spectacle as usual. With many Jacks travelling to Cardiff, the atmosphere should be electric and will create one hell of an arena for the players to battle on. Firstly, let’s hope for a trouble free day (the bubble should sort out most of it, we hope). Now, down to the match itself.
It’s worth mentioning the obvious exclusion of Darren Pratley and Jay Bothroyd for Swansea and Cardiff respectively. The question has already been asked: should Pratley have been subbed before he got the yellow card during the Palace match? Why didn’t Rodgers take him off? I believe, in these circumstances, the onus is on the player to avoid putting themselves in the position where they will be penalised. Pratley knew he was on a warning, and with less than ten minutes to go, should have kept off the ref’s radar. The booking is in the past now, but the Cardiff game is yet to come, so who will fill in?
Thankfully Kemy Agustien is back training, so he will slot nicely into the Pratley-shaped hole (this may well be a long term solution after more speculation today over Newcastle and Wigan after Pratley, but that’s another story). Agustien combined will Allen and Orlandi, should keep the midfield ticking over nicely. Cardiff will be suffering just as much, if not more, with the loss of their goal machine, Jay Bothroyd after a similar one-match suspension, where he received a yellow card against Norwich on Saturday.
Upfront, Swansea have more fire power than last year – Sinclair the obvious target man, but we will have Emnes ready for action (still a Swan until he’s back in Middlesbrough), who we know is goal capable. With Dobbie and Beattie also available, as well as Dyer on his wing, Swansea have many attacking options so goals shouldn’t be a problem (please don’t quote me on this though!).
Despite losing Bothroyd, Michael Chopra is back in the Cardiff squad. Chopra is very dangerous when on form, so Ashley Williams and co. will still have a lot to deal with, but it’s nothing they haven’t dealt with efficiently before. I haven’t mentioned Bellamy yet, who will provide a massive challenge to the Swans back four too. However, he is just another test that the Swans defence will relish, especially as its all practice for the Premier League next year.
So, some early predictions? If Swansea play like they have in the past weeks, I feel a sneaky 2-1 win could well be on the cards. However, Cardiff are top of the table, performing very well and also have the home advantage, which makes me think a draw is more likely. I’m going to go for 1-1, which, despite the passion to win the derby match, is a result I think most Swans fans would take.
My money may be on the draw, but its money I’d rather lose to see Swansea claim the bragging rights!