Bitter Welsh rivals Swansea and Cardiff lock horns in Sunday's televised Championship clash. Mark O'Haire previews the feisty fixture at the Liberty Stadium.
"Six of the most recent eight head-to-heads have produced no more than one goal, as at least one side has failed to score in all eight of those showdowns..."
Swansea v Cardiff
Sunday October 17, 12:00
Swansea making slow progress
Swansea boss Russell Martin has been pleased with progress at the Liberty Stadium following his arrival in August. Despite tabling just two Championship triumphs so far, the Swans have suffered a solitary league loss in their last six outings (W1-D4-L1) keeping four clean sheets in the process. No second-tier side has kept more shutouts (6).
The main objective for Martin now is to improve City's final-third output from their control of possession. Swansea's meagre tally of nine league goals has put extra pressure on the backline with goalkeeper Ben Hamer called into making three smart saves during the Swans' most recent encounter, a goalless draw at Derby prior to the international break.
Martin felt his team deserved more than a point at Pride Park, saying: "I am really frustrated. We deserved to win. We had 10 shots inside their box - it needs to come to more."
The Swansea supremo is now looking forward to his first South Wales derby with Michael Obafemi, Ryan Bennett and Olivier Ntcham all expected to return to the fold.
McCarthy under pressure at Cardiff
Cardiff manager Mick McCarthy remains under plenty of scrutiny after the Bluebirds signed off for the October international break with a fifth successive league defeat. Junior Hoilett scored the only goal in Reading's 1-0 victory at Cardiff City Stadium, although the capital club deserved more, dominating the contest and winning the shot count 25-2.
Having fielded questions over whether he had lost the players' confidence, Cardiff produced a sterling effort with McCarthy understandably bemused by the final score.
He said: "I've no idea how we didn't get a result out of it, because it's the best performance we have had in weeks. It's bitterly, bitterly disappointing. But I was really proud of the performance."
The Bluebirds are hoping to have centre-back Sean Morrison available again after missing out against Reading with a thigh injury. Tom Sang should also be back in contention, whilst Kieffer Moore should return from Wales duty in buoyant mood after playing an integral role in games against Czech Republic and Estonia over the past week.
Swansea suffered a rare home reverse to Cardiff last season, and the Swans are looking to avoid suffering back-to-back home defeats in the South Wales derby for the first time since 1959. Last term's tussles were both tight affairs, won by the away side, although Swansea come into this clash having returned W7-D5-L4 in the last 16 head-to-head meetings.
Swansea 2.608/5 endured a difficult start to the new season with Steve Cooper leaving his post late in the day and Russell Martin taking time to mark his mark at the Liberty Stadium. The hosts are ranked inside the bottom-half and bottom-eight for the majority of major performance data metrics but have kept four clean sheets in five on home soil (W1-D3-L1).
Cardiff's 2.942/1 early season promise has given way since late August as the Bluebirds have suffered five league losses in six and are looking to avoid six defeats on the bounce for the first time since 1985. Mick McCarthy's charges are underperforming against expectations and underlying metrics also suggest the visitors haven't had the rub of the green this term.
Six of the most recent eight head-to-heads between Cardiff and Swansea have produced no more than one goal, as at least one side has failed to score in all eight of those showdowns since 2010. Unsurprisingly, Under 2.5 Goals has been chalked up at a short 1.574/7, although 'No' in the Both Teams To Score column is a more appetising 1.804/5.
Swansea have been the league's clean sheet specialists since the start of last term - picking up 26 shutouts in that sample - with four of their early season fixtures ending goalless and only five of their 11 matches seeing goals at both ends. Meanwhile, Cardiff come into this clash with a solitary strike in almost eight hours of Championship action, furthering the case.
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