Declan John

Watch Live: Newcastle United vs. Cardiff City (Lineups and Discuss)

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Cardiff might be playing to save their Premier League skins, but it’s the Newcastle fans that just might take center stage on Saturday. (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET online via Live Extra).

Supporters have planned a protest at St. James’ Park, coordinating efforts for the home fans to walk out of the stadium during the 69th minute of the match. While the Magpies are assured of another season in the Premier League, that’s down to performances in the first half of the season, after which they’ve only managed to disappoint. Newcastle have lost their last six in a row, their opponents scoring 17 goals to their…zero. No wonder fans are frustrated.

Bluebirds fans don’t have it easy, either. Cardiff are last in the league and could very well find themselves relegated by the end of the weekend. Last week’s 4-0 loss to Sunderland did them no favors, and should the Black Cats and Norwich both win, and Newcastle manage to find three points, it’s right back to the Championship for Cardiff.

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After last week’s disastrous showing at Sunderland,Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has rung the changes for the match at St. James’ Park. Ben Turner, Declan John, Aron Gunnarsson, Kim Bo-Kyung and Wilfried Zaha all start for the visitors.

It’s just one change for Alan Pardew, who, in absence of Yohan Cabaye, seems to have no idea how to convince his side to score. Loic Remy does start up top, but will his partnership with Shola Ameobi, in for Dan Gosling, actually produce a goal for Newcastle?

LINEUPS

Newcastle United: Krul; Debuchy, Williamson, Coloccini, Dummett; Sissoko, Anita, Tiote, Gouffran; Shola Ameobi, Remy

Subs: Elliot, Yanga-Mbiwa, Haidara, S.Taylor, Gosling, Armstrong, de Jong

Cardiff City: Marshall; Fabio, Caulker, Turner, John; Whittingham, Gunnarsson, Kim, Mutch, Zaha; Campbell

Subs: Lewis; Jones, Eikrem, Cowie, McNaughton, Berget, Bellamy

Swansea City 3-0 Cardiff City: Swans compound Cardiff misery (video)

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If Cardiff thought all they needed to do to survive in the Premier League was to rely upon their new January signings, well, they learned a harsh lesson against Swansea on Saturday. The hosts finally looked like the side that often enthralled last season – in the second half, at least. Three Swans goals in the final 45 minutes means Cardiff are still suffering, sitting 19th and still three points from safety.

The first half got off to a terrific start, with both sides playing some fine soccer. Alas, all good things must come to an end, and this particular good thing ended quicker than most. With both sides anxious to avoid relegation, the quick start faded away into cautious play before the whistle blew at the end of the first 45.

Before five minutes were out, Swansea had a penalty appeal waved away. Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall came out to challenge Wilfried Bony, who was free on goal. The challenge looked perfectly fine, terrific even, with Marshall just nicking the ball off Bony’s feet. The home side hoped for the spot kick, but the referee made the right decision.

(MORE: Premier League Roundup Chelsea go top, Liverpool hammer Arsenal, big wins at the bottom)

Cardiff missed a great chance to take the lead in the 24th minute. Craig Bellamy came flying up the left, exchanging a neat one-two with Declan John. Bellamy perhaps should’ve taken the shot for himself, but instead put the cross in for Kenwyne Jones. The forward’s shot went just barely wide.

Fortunately for all those contemplating an afternoon nap, Swansea – who’ve scored the vast majority of their goals this season in the second half – woke us all up with a goal early after the restart. Gary Monk replaced loanee Marvin Emnes with Pablo Hernández, who needed just two minutes to make an impact. His through ball sliced through the Bluebirds to find Wayne Routledge, who cut inside before sending his shot into the bottom right corner.

It’s enough to make you wonder why the Spaniard wasn’t on from the start.

The goal woke up viewers and it woke up Cardiff. Just a few minutes later, Bellamy shook off Chico Flores to try his luck from the edge of the box. His powerful shot shook the upright, and the hosts breathed once more.

Still Swansea had to search for a second goal, worried that their often leaky defense might result in dropping points. It finally came in the 80th minute, after some lovely play from the Swans. Hernández was involved once more, but it was Routledge’s looping cross that caught the eye. Nathan Dyer came diving in, doubling Swansea’s lead when his header landed in the bottom left corner.

Hernández must be a shoo-in for a return to the starting lineup after the third goal. John fouled Dyer on the right side of the area, and Pablo’s fantastic, curving free kick looped into the center of the box. Bony sent his sharp header into the roof of the net, ensuring all three points went to Swansea.

LINEUPS

Swansea City: Vorm, Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies, Britton, de Guzman (Cañas 69), Emnes (Hernandez 45), Dyer (Taylor 88), Routledge, Bony

Goals: Routledge 47′; Dyer 79′; Bony 85′

Cardiff City: Marshall; John, Caulker, Turner, Fabio (McNaughton 69); Whittingham, Medel, Kim, Zaha (Mutch 77); Bellamy, Jones (Campbell 55)

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Manchester United 2-0 Cardiff City: Van Persie, Young goals give Red Devils win in Mata’s debut (video)

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The debut of Juan Mata was a successful one for Manchester United, thanks to goals from Robin Van Persie and Ashley Young. Holding a lead for 84 minutes at Old Trafford, the Red Devils claimed a 2-0 win over visiting Cardiff, ruining Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s return to the Theater of Dreams.

The former United striker and youth coach was making his first trip to Stretford as Cardiff manager, having been appointed Bluebirds’ boss on Jan. 2. The loss, however, leaves the former Red Devils winless in the Premier League, with loss leaving Solksjaer’s new club to languish in the Premier League’s cellar.

Van Persie, making his first appearance since Dec. 10, got Manchester United on the scoresheet early, the striker’s close range header beating a sprawling David Marshall to give the Red Devils a 1-0 lead. On a play started by Mata, United went close after Antonio Valencia headed a cross from Young onto the crossbar. The ensuing rebound fell to Van Persie, who needed two cracks at goal before putting United up one.

Van Persie nearly grabbed a second later in the half, pulling a sharp angle shot from the left just wide of the far post. For most of the period, however, the sides stood on relatively even footing. Cardiff also went close once but where otherwise unable to break down United in their final third. The Red Devils, using Mata as their focal point, couldn’t build on the momentum of their opening score. The sides went into halftime 1-0.

The second half opened with United continuing to allow Cardiff their share of the ball, but just short of the hour mark, a strike from distance rendered that run up insignificant. Cutting in from the left flank, Young pulled up just shot of the penalty area to launch a shot toward Marshall’s left post. Making defensive midfielder Gary Medel pay for his unwillingness to close him down, the United winger nestled his shot into the right side netting, giving United a 2-0 lead.

A relatively lifeless final half hour nearly saw United grab a third through a series of chances near the 80th minute. For the most part, though, the match ended once Young’s ball found nylon. With United forced on staying organized while Cardiff embrace their fate, the match faded into its 2-0 conclusion, the Red Devils’ additions and returns given them their second win of the new year.

LINEUPS

Manchester United: David De Gea, Rafael, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra, Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones, Ryan Giggs (Tom Cleverley 71′), Ashley Young, Juan Mata (Adnan Januzaj 85′), Robin Van Persie (Wayne Rooney 63′)

Goals: Van Persie (6′), Young (59′)

Cardiff City: David Marshall, Declan John, Steven Caulker, Mark Hudson (Ben Turner 69′), Kevin McNaughton, Gary Medel, Craig Noone, (Mats Daehli 78′), Jordan Mutch (Kim Bo-Kyung 52′), Craig Bellamy, Peter Whittingham, Frazier Campbell

Watch Live: Manchester United vs. Cardiff City (Lineups and Discussion)

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Ole Gunner Solskjaer, who spent 11 seasons as a player at Manchester United, makes his return to Old Trafford today, only this time he’ll be the opposite bench. When the Red Devils kick off against Cardiff City at 2:45 p.m. ET (available on NBC Live Extra), the former Norwegian international will be managing a Bluebirds team striving for their first Premier League win since Dec. 14.

That slide leaves Cardiff in last place after 22 rounds, with the team still winless in league since Solksjaer’s Jan. 2 arrival. Though they have claimed two FA Cup wins in that time, multi-goal losses to West Ham United and Manchester City leave the Bluebirds with only four wins on the season. Should they pull and upset and claim their fifth today, Cardiff could climb as high as 16th in a jumbled relegation battle.

They’ll face a United team that has a new look on life after management opened up the checkbook on Friday, agreeing to terms with Chelsea on the acquisition of Juan Mata. Brought in for a $61 million fee, Mata’s going to be thrown right into the fire, with David Moyes electing to put him into today’s starting XI. He’s set to start behind a newly healthy Robin Van Persie, with Wayne Rooney starting the match on the bench.

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One of the nice upshots of Mata’s acquisition has been a refocus of energies. Instead of dwelling on the team’s form (United having lost four of their last six games), people are looking forward, hoping the commitment shown to the club’s new record transfer will translate onto the field.

The first test will be here shortly. Against a team sitting in 20th place, United will be expected to claim full points. Fail to do so, and the positive vibe that came with Mata’s arrival will be eclipsed by new worries the Red Devils won’t make Champions League.

LINEUPS

Manchester United: David De Gea, Rafael, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra, Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones, Ryan Giggs, Ashley Young, Juan Mata, Robin van Persie

Subs: Andres Lindegaard, Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez, Tom Cleverley, Darren Fletcher, Shinji Kagawa, Adnan Januzaj

Cardiff City: David Marshall, Declan John, Steven Caulker, Mark Hudson, Kevin McNaughton, Gary Medel, Craig Noone, Jordan Mutch, Craig Bellamy, Peter Whittingham, Frazier Campbell

Subs: Joe Lewis, Michael Turner, Kim Bo-Kyung, Magnua Wolff Eikrem, Aron Gunnarsson, Mats Moller Deahli, Jo Inge Berget

Watch Live: Cardiff City vs. Sunderland (Lineups and Discuss)

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A massive relegation scrap takes place down in South Wales between Cardiff and Sunderland (watch live on NBC, 12:30pm ET and online via NBC Sports Live Extra) as the Bluebirds are without a manger and sinking towards the relegation zone.

Controversial owner Vincent Tan finally sacked Malky Mackay on Friday, following a heavy defeat to Southampton, and Cardiff’s fans are not happy at all with a protest march planned before the game where David Kerslake takes caretaker charge.

As for Sunderland, they’re bottom of the table but come off the back of a superb 1-0 win away at Everton and now a win against Cardiff could see them just one point and one place behind the Bluebirds at the final whistle.

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In team news Cardiff make three changes from the team that lost to Southampton, as Declan John, Kim and Gary Medel come into the starting lineup.

As for Sunderland, USMNT forward Jozy Atlidore starts up front ahead of Steven Fletcher, while Dossena and Giaccherini replacing Celustka and Colback.

LINEUPS

Cardiff City: Marshall; John, Caulker, Turner, Theophile-Catherine; Medel, Whittingham, Kim, Mutch, Noone; Campbell. Subs: Lewis; Hudson, Cornelius, Odemwingie, Gunnarsson, Cowie, Maynard

Sunderland: Mannone, Bardsley, Dossena, Roberge, Diakite, Cattermole, Larsson, Ki, Giaccherini, Borini, Altidore. Subs: Cabral, Gardner, Fletcher, Celustka, Colback, Ba, Pickford