West Brom-Cardiff City Preview

TOM BENNETT (STATS European Football Writer)
The Associated Press

Two struggling teams meet in the Welsh capital on Saturday when Cardiff City host West Bromwich Albion.

Malky Mackay's Cardiff (3-5-7) are without a win in five matches and have struggled for goals all season, with only Crystal Palace (10) managing fewer than their total of 11 in 15 matches. Dropped points against fellow relegation candidates Crystal Palace and Stoke City in the last two games have seen the Bluebirds slip within one point of the bottom three, but Mackay believes the pressure on him is no greater now than it ever has been.

"That spotlight's been there for the last seven or eight weeks, I don't know how that changes," he said. "It's not any different in the Premier League than it is in the Championship. Being manager of a football club these days is a precarious job. It's results-based.

"The pressure is something that goes with the line of work I'm in, but I've got faith and confidence in my squad and my staff and our ability, over two-and-a-half years here and what we've done. That doesn't change. We were outstanding against Stoke last Tuesday night and we are competing in the Premier League. Were we cast adrift I might have different thoughts but we are competing at this level."

West Brom (3-6-6) have been inconsistent all season. A fortnight ago, Steve Clarke's side had lost just one of their last seven in the league and looked to be strong mid-table candidates, only to suffer three defeats on the bounce to double their number of losses for the whole campaign as they slid down the table.

However, the Baggies boss isn't reading too much into the recent slump, and this week defended his players' decision to continue with their Christmas party plans despite the results.

"It was good for the players to get away," said Clarke. "It was a difficult week. They went away, got themselves together and had a good time. They have to relax and enjoy themselves.

"If anyone says they weren't hurting after three defeats in a week - they were. They have been hurting, the same as everyone has been hurting. Everyone hurts when you lose. To try to make an issue of going out and trying to have a night out is wrong. I don't understand that it would look bad. They had two days off and they wanted to go and spend some time together - no problem. It was good, I don't have a big issue. You get a lot of bad headlines surrounding football, but I don't think that was a bad headline at all."

Cardiff have injury doubts over Andrew Taylor (calf) and Craig Bellamy (hamstring), while West Brom have concerns over Victor Anichebe (illness), Nicolas Anelka (groin), Scott Sinclair (hamstring) and Ben Foster (ankle).

This will be the first meeting between the teams in four seasons, when they met in the Championship. Cardiff took four points off West Brom in 2009-10, winning 2-0 at the Hawthorns and drawing 1-1 at home.