THE BLOG
01/11/2013 04:37 GMT | Updated 31/12/2013 05:12 GMT

Cardiff City v Swansea City Preview

This Sunday, Swansea travel to Cardiff for what promises to be one of the highlights of the Premier League season.

And no, I'm not exaggerating.

This will be the first time the two sides have ever clashed in top flight football, and neither will want to give up an inch to their arch-rivals and sworn enemy. If its fire and passion you want, look no further.

Others may disagree, but a goalless draw at Norwich for Cardiff in the last game was a decent result. The clean sheet was very welcome, and the point just enough to keep things ticking over. Cardiff could do with scoring a few more goals but generally, they have made a good start.

On the other hand, playing in Europe this season seems to have distracted the Jacks from league matters slightly. When the games come thick and fast, a squad that size was always going to struggle. As things stand, Swansea sit in 9th place, just two points ahead of Cardiff with both clubs having played nine games. Everything could change in a heartbeat.

Personally, I think Malky Mackay might be just that little bit more prepared for the game than his Danish counterpart. One of the main criticisms of Dave Jones was that he didn't take the local derbies seriously enough. Or at least, he acted as if he didn't, which is just as bad. With his Old Firm experience, there will be no fear of Malky taking this match lightly.

Given their Premier League experience, Swansea may well start the match as slight favourites, but maybe the bookies will be keen not to write-off the passion and grim determination of Cardiff, plus a vociferous home support behind them. Swansea will try to keep possession, but whether they will be able to when Cardiff are swarming them and closing them down remains to be seen. One of the reasons they were so successful last season was because many teams backed off and allowed Swansea to play. They will have no such luxury on Sunday.

Of course, that game plan will take its toll physically and the Cardiff players might tire in the last quarter, which could be dangerous. These kinds of games are impossible to predict, but most agree it is likely to be a close game. I may be biased, but I'm going for a narrow Cardiff win.

For the record, since their first meeting in 1912 (when Swansea were founded), the near neighbours have played each other a total of 105 times in all competition (not including friendlies), with Cardiff winning 43 times and Swansea 35, leaving 27 draws. Strangely, however, Swansea lead Cardiff in league encounters 20-18 with 16 draws. No club has ever done the league double over the other.

They last met in 2010/11, when they traded hard-fought 1-0 away wins years at Championship level, but they've never met on a stage this size and in front of the world's media. It has 'powder keg clash' written all over it. It might not be pretty, but it's going to be intense. Expect fireworks!

Read about some of the most exciting and dramatic South Wales derbies to date in my new book, From the Ashes - The REAL Story of Cardiff City FC.

Out now:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/From-Ashes-Story-Cardiff-Football/dp/1845242130