Cardiff City-Swansea City Preview

TOM BENNETT (STATS European Football Writer)
The Associated Press

Swansea City will be without a permanent manager as they host the South Wales derby against Cardiff on Saturday.

The Swans (6-6-12) took the surprising step of sacking Michael Laudrup on Monday after one win in their last 10 games have left the club only two points clear of the relegation zone. The sacking came less than a year after Laudrup had led Swansea to their first major trophy with last season's League Cup triumph, and the Dane revealed he is considering legal action over his dismissal.

All of this will hang over caretaker manager and defender Garry Monk on Saturday when he sits in the dugout for Swansea's first ever home top-fight derby. The 34-year-old centre-back is Swansea through-and-through having racked up over 200 appearances for the club in all four professional divisions in English football and insists he is up for the challenge, but he has been given no indication of how long he will be in charge.

"I will give everything I have for Swansea City," said Monk, who is yet to feature as a player for the Swans this season. "I will promise the fans that. And I will ensure the players do exactly the same. We are all in this together - and I will make sure we stick together. That is what Swansea City has been all about for as long as I can remember.

"I know this club inside out and I will try and use that knowledge to the betterment of Swansea City. This is a proud moment for me, and I aim to do the best possible for this club and the loyal supporters."

Cardiff won the first Premier League South Wales derby when these teams met in the Welsh capital back in November. Former Swansea centre-back Steven Caulker scored the only goal, having joined the club from Tottenham in the summer transfer window, and Swansea finished the game with 10 men after goalkeeper Michel Vorm was sent off in added time.

The Bluebirds have replaced their manager since that win, but the new man in charge - Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - is keen to make it two top-flight wins against the old enemy. He is also aware neither club have ever done the double over their rivals in their history.

"Let's go out and make history. Why not?" said Solskjaer. "I know about the history of this fixture... I am aware there has never been a league double. This may be the time.

"I watched the South Wales derby on television earlier this season when Cardiff won and the return is going to be another tough match. 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."

Swansea have injury doubts over Vorm (knee), Jonjo Shelvey (hamstring), Jose Canas (ankle) and Michu (ankle), while Cardiff have concerns over the fitness of Mark Hudson (hamstring) and Andrew Taylor (calf).Cardiff go into the game in 19th position and seven places below the Swans, but such is the compact nature of the league that a win for the Bluebirds would see them draw level on points with their Welsh rivals.

There have been 55 league meetings between these clubs in total, dating back to 1929. Swansea have won 20, Cardiff have won 19 and there have been 16 draws.

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