What a difference a year makes as Cardiff eye Swansea derby double for first time in their history

The Bluebirds go into Saturday’s derby in high spirits after four wins on the bounce

WHEN Cardiff City last made the trip west for the South Wales derby in October 2023, they were flirting with relegation and on the back of consecutive defeats, whilst Swansea were sitting in fourth.

Tomorrow at the Liberty Stadium (12.30pm) roles are largely reversed, and while the teams are only four places apart in the league, their momentum is very different.

Cardiff are in 11th place and five points off the play-off places after four wins on the spin and five unbeaten – including a 1-0 win in the Severnside derby.

Swansea are in 15th, five points off the relegation places, with just three wins in their last 12 games – and lost at Ashton Gate last time out.

That means that tomorrow, Erol Bulut and his Bluebirds side have the chance to make their own history if they can achieve their first double after their 2-0 victory over the Swans at the Cardiff City Stadium in September.

A lot can change in a year

The Bluebirds visited the Liberty last season under Steve Morison’s management in the 2022-23 season, which was one to forget for the Bluebirds with the club narrowly avoiding relegation.

The trip to high-flying Swansea City was the first derby of that season for the struggling Bluebirds.

When Callum Robinson was sent off after just seven minutes, Cardiff’s fate was sealed and Morison’s side slumped to a 2-0 defeat after goals from Michael Obafemi and Oliver Cooper.

The Cardiff line-up that slumped to a 2-0 defeat at the Liberty in October 2022

Worse was to come later in the season as the Bluebirds slumped to an agonising 2-3 defeat at Cardiff City Stadium as the Swans sealed only the second ever South Wales derby double – a feat Cardiff have never achieved in the fixture’s 113-year history.

This time around, though, the Bluebirds travel to Swansea with a new-look side and in high spirits after what Bulut called their “best win of the season” against Ipswich last time out.

Only four of the XI which started at the Liberty in October 2022 are still at Cardiff City; Robinson, Ralls, Wintle and O’Dowda.

The back five which started that derby have all left the club and Cardiff now have an entirely new defence.

Bulut’s take

Bulut praised his side after their comeback against Ipswich Town last weekend

Cardiff manager Erol Bulut will be the first manager to take charge of both the derbies in one season since Dave Jones in 2011 when he takes to the touchline on Saturday – a sign of the “consistency” he has brought to the club.

Bulut recognises that it “will not be easy” at the Liberty Stadium, but insists he and his players are confident they can pull off a result.

“I hope, along with my players, I can be the first to complete the double,” said Bulut.

“We have to work hard on Saturday. We’re going there to take all three points.”

Aaron Ramsey returned to training this week after injury, and was included in Rob Page’s Welsh squad for their upcoming play-off match against Finland. The Cardiff manager refused to confirm whether the Welsh captain will be available for the derby, however.

“We’ve got a decision to make on Friday about whether he will be in the squad with us or not,” said Bulut.

“Players always want to play, even if they’re injured. I have to make a decision.”

Predicted Cardiff line-up

Predicted line-up for tomorrow’s derby

Despite the possible return of Ramsey, the Welshman is unlikely to come straight back into Cardiff’s starting XI for the derby after a lengthy period out with injury.

Cardiff continue to be without Mark McGuinness and Callum Robinson for this weekend’s game, and Bulut declared that Callum O’Dowda is unlikely to be able to play a full 90 minutes after his late winner last week against high-flying Ipswich Town.

Bulut praised Rubin Colwill for his impact off the bench last time out, and the Swansea-born Bluebirds midfielder could be in line to come into the side in place of Josh Bowler on the wing. However, Bowler has been favoured on the right so far this season and the Cardiff manager is unlikely to change a winning team.