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Swansea City v Cardiff City Preview

Russell Martin was a Braveheart Scotland international and it’s bravery that his Swansea City defender Harry Darling reckons will prove decisive in the Welsh derby against Cardiff City this Sunday.

Current Swans head coach Martin hails from Brighton and hardly fits the mould as a rugged, thistle-clad no-nonsense Scottish defender, but it’s not physical bravery that Darling is talking about.

As a player, Martin was more of a thinker than a thumper and his coaching buzzwords of “courage” and “bravery” are not about sticking your head in where it hurts.

Darling reckons Swansea can repeat last season’s double over Cardiff because they will be braver on the ball and more courageous when it comes to risk-taking.

It’s a style that makes them favourites to beat the Bluebirds at the Stadium as it has brought the Swans five victories in their last six matches.

They currently sit seventh in the table, level on points with two clubs in the play-off places, and only three points off the automatic promotion places.

“Russ was a massive reason for me coming here,” says Darling, who moved from Martin’s former club MK Dons in the summer.

“He has such a good way of playing football. You can see it really coming together here now. We are really dominating the ball.

“To get these results with these types of performances is fantastic. We know some teams will sit behind the ball and make it hard for us, but those problems will be there all season.

“It’s about dealing with them. You have to be brave. And it’s made clear that if you’re not brave on the ball then you won’t play. You have to stay positive the whole game.”

Cardiff have also tried to become more progressive in their approach, firstly under former manager Steve Morison and now under caretaker boss Mark Hudson.

But the adapting of their style has not been as smooth – hardly surprising since the squad was completely revamped in the summer with 17 new faces.

Morison was sacked with the Bluebirds sitting in 18th place in the Championship and there was an immediate uplift.

Hudson collected seven points from his first three games in charge, but back-to-back defeats to Coventry City and QPR leaves them back where Hudson started – in 18th place.

Hudson can rightly point to controversial decisions in both defeats that went against his team. Callum Robinson had a goal ruled out against Coventry in bizarre circumstances and then defender Jack Simpson was sent off at QPR in an even more baffling manner.

But the fact is that Swansea will go into Sunday’s high noon clash with momentum that Cardiff do not have, both from recent results and the benefits of last season’s double when the Swans won 3-0 at home and then 4-0 in the capital.

Prior to those one-sided matches, no team had beaten the other twice in the league in the same season.

Even so, the showdown at noon on Sunday – like all derby games – will be a self-contained event with fierce passions and tensions swirling that often obey few rules regarding current form.

“We will muster an XI and we will go there and put a performance together we should be proud of,” said Hudson after the 3-0 defeat at QPR.

“I don’t think you can look at form going into the game. It’s important to us, we have spoken about it already. We will go there on Sunday, stick together and show them what we are about.”

Remarkably, Cardiff have conceded fewer goals in their 15 matches so far this season than Swansea have allowed past them – 17 compared to the Swans’ 22.

But Martin’s side have scored 20, compared to Cardiff’s meagre tally of just 12, the second lowest total in the division behind Preston.

Whether Cardiff can add to that tally this weekend could well rest on the outcome of the tussle between centre-back Darling and striker Robinson – two players who have quickly become key players for their respective teams.

“I’ve never played against him, but I’ve seen him on TV and I know he’s a good player,” says Darling of Robinson.

“We’ll do the analysis as we always do and I’ll now what expect.

“I have heard a lot already about this derby. It was such a big thing for the boys last year to do the double.

“I have heard about what the atmosphere is going to be like and I can’t wait. But last season has been and gone and we now need to focus on this weekend.”

Swansea will be without suspended striker and top scorer Joel Piroe, but midfielders Joe Allen and Jamie Paterson could return.

Cardiff are likely to be without Wales international Rubin Colwill and have a doubt over influential defender Perry Ng.

Match Odds



Handicap Betting

Swansea (-0.5)

Cardiff (+0.5)

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