Swansea City v. Cardiff City: The South Wales derby resumes

Leave a comment
  • The last time this fixture was played at Liberty Stadium, Craig Bellamy scored the winner for Cardiff City.
  • If Premier League games ended at half-time so far this season, Cardiff would be bottom by seven points, Swansea would be 19th.
  • If Swansea lose this match it will be the first time they’ve ever lost three consecutive league games to their arch-rivals.

The second Premier League installment of the South Wales derby is set to take place Saturday 12:30pm ET on free to air NBC and streaming via Live Extra. Last time these two sides met a first half chess match turned into an up-tempo second half laced with bruising tackles and a single goal, from Cardiff’s Steven Caulker.

This time around the Welsh sides head to the Liberty Stadium where the atmosphere will be intense as the two relegation-threatened sides play out one of the best rivalries in the Premier League. Swansea City enter the match 12th in the table but just two points clear of the relegation zone. Making matters worse, the Swans must make do with long time defender Gary Monk at the helm after chairman Huw Jenkins fired manager Michael Laudrup earlier this week.

The firing comes after a poor domestic run of form where Swansea won only a single league match in their last ten. Part of the poor results has come from the caliber of the clubs Swansea have faced (Everton, Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City) but injuries to key players Michu and Michel Vorm have also dulled the club’s typically sharp play. Last week was one of the club’s weakest performances of the season, dropping a 2-0 decision to an under-whelming West Ham side.

Cardiff come into the weekend with a bit more kick to their step, having beaten Norwich 2-1 last Saturday. It was the Bluebirds first league victory since the 1-0 triumph over West Brom on December 14th. Very much a club settling into its own under new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Cardiff made some key acquisitions in the January transfer window brining in Fabio and Wilfried Zaha from Manchester United, swapping Kenwyne Jones for Peter Odemwingie and buying three Norweigians, Magnus Wolff Eikrem, Mats Moller Daehli and Jo Inge Berget.

Critically for Swansea, Michu (ankle) and Vorm (knee) may both make their returns from injury while Jonjo Shelvey (hamstring) and Jose Canas (ankle) are late fitness tests. For Cardiff, defender Andrew Taylor remains sidelined with a calf injury while Mark Hudson is out for an extended period with a hamstring problem.

What They’re Saying

Caretaker manager Gary Monk: “It’s massive. The circumstances make it even bigger but we are focused on the football now. We lost the first game at their place and they will want to do us at our place. These are the sorts of games you want to play in and be a part of.”

Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer : “I know about the history of this fixture… I am aware there has never been a league double. This may be the time…. There is a passion among Cardiff fans which I knew about before and has been evident since I arrived. We understand what this fixture means to the fans.”

Predictions

It’s almost impossible to predict how Swansea will react to Laudrup’s firing. Typically players raise their level to impress the new manager but with Monk at the helm it could be a different story. At the end of the day, this match requires no greater motivation. Feels like a draw so what a special story it will be when the Swans pull this one off.

Heartbroken Karius issues apology to Liverpool

Twitter/@BBCSport
Leave a comment

Liverpool’s disappointing result in Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final can be chalked up to many factors, but all anyone will ever remember is Loris Karius‘ performance… and the goalkeeper knows it.

[ MORE: Bale brace guides Real Madrid to third straight UCL title ]

Karius issued this series of tweets on Sunday, declaring his disappointment from the team’s 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid, as well as an apology to the supporters and his entire club.

Of the two errors Karius made, the Real Madrid equalizer from Karim Benzema was certainly the more glaring.

After receiving the ball on a routine grab, Karius rushed his distribution from goal while Benzema read the play perfectly and stepped in front of the throw to get a foot on the ball.

The ball then deflected into the back of the Liverpool net, and changed the complexion of the match drastically.

While Karius’ mistakes cannot, and won’t, go unnoticed, the Reds were still reeling from Mohamed Salah‘s gruesome shoulder injury in the first half — which leaves the Egypt international’s availability uncertain for the summer’s World Cup in Russia.

Rotherham gains promotion to Championship

Twitter/@BBCSport
Leave a comment

After one season down in League One, the Millers are returning to the Sky Bet Championship in 2018/19.

[ MORE: Tammy Abraham rescues England in Toulon opener ]

Rotherham United defeated Shrewsbury Town, 2-1, in extra time on Sunday at Wembley Stadium to reach the Championship.

Regulation wasn’t enough to decide the League One playoff final, but Richard Wood brace ensured his side, Rotherham, would reach the English second division ahead of the 2018/19 season.

Wood did superbly to volley home his squad’s second goal in the first half of extra time, after a brilliant Joe Newell set piece curled into the path of the defender.

Shrewsbury equalized around the hour mark when Alex Rodman calmly placed the ball beyond goalkeeper Marek Rodak from close ranger after a perfectly-executed set piece that caught the Millers off guard.

The first half went largely in favor Rotherham though, having taken the lead in the 32nd minute through Wood’s header to the bottom left corner.

The lead should have been larger though heading into halftime, but David Ball’s early penalty kick was saved by Shrews keeper Dean Henderson in the ninth minute to keep the match scoreless at the time.

Transfer rumor roundup: Man United plans Joe Hart move and more

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Pro Soccer Talk takes a glance at some of the biggest transfer rumors on Sunday…

[ MORE: Bale brace guides Real to third straight UCL title ]


We start in Manchester, where the Red Devils are reportedly interested in raiding their cross-town rivals for a back-up goalkeeper.

Man United is said to have interest in Manchester City’s Joe Hart, who missed out on being called up to England for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Hart has spent the last two seasons on loan from the Citizens, spending 2016/17 in Serie A with Torino and this past season with West Ham United.


Sticking with United, the Red Devils are preparing a new contract for Anthony Martial, according to the Sun.

Martial has become a regular for United since joining from Monaco in 2015, scoring 36 goals in all competitions.


Finally, Danny Rose could be making a Merseyside move if Everton has it their way.

The Toffees are eyeing up the Tottenham left back, although Manchester United has also expressed its interest in the England international.

Rose missed a significant portion of the 2017/18 season due to a knee injury, and the 27-year-old could be on the move this summer despite spending the last 11 seasons in London with Spurs.

Tammy Abraham rescues England in Toulon opener

Twitter/@TournoiToulon
Leave a comment

It took a late finish to nab three points on Sunday, but England’s title defence at the Toulon Tournament is off an running.

[ MORE: Bale brace guides Real Madrid past Liverpool ]

The Three Lions’ Under-21 squad picked up a 2-1 win in their Group A opener against China, after having fallen behind to the Asian nation inside the opening half hour.

England, winners of the last two editions of the competition, conceded in the 20th minute to Yan Dinghao, and went into the halftime break behind 1-0.

Manager Paul Simpson and his side came out strong in the second stanza, though, and found an equalizer five minutes in through Middlesbrough defender Dael Fry‘s header.

It seemed as though England would be destined for a point, however, Tammy Abraham‘s tap-in finish in the 85th minute ensured a crucial victory to open the tournament for the Three Lions.

England will round out Group A with matches against Mexico and Qatar on March 28 and June 1, respectively.

At the Toulon Tournament, the three group winners automatically reach the semifinals, while the best second-place nation also receives a bid into the final four.