Cardiff City - Sunderland Preview: Bluebirds begin life after Mackay
Gus Poyet's strugglers claimed their first maximum points haul on the road this season against Everton last time out, and now face a team with just one win in eight to their name
By Matthew Rogerson
Managerless Cardiff City will begin life without Malky Mackay on Saturday when they host Sunderland in the Premier League.
The Scot was relieved of his duties on Friday after weeks of unrest at the club, marred by disagreements between himself and owner Vincent Tan.
Amid the off-field carnage, the players left behind will be desperate to arrest the dismal run of form that Cardiff currently find themselves in.
|CARDIFF CITY LATEST
|9/1||Sunderland are 9/1 with bet365 to beat Cardiff 1-0 on Saturday|
Cardiff, who sit in 16th place, are four points ahead of their visitors and, following Thursday's comprehensive 3-0 home defeat to Southampton, have won just once in eight top-flight games.
They have also scored only twice in six Premier League games and will come up against a Sunderland side who have kept three league clean sheets in a row.
But if is off-field issues that have dominated the headlines at the Cardiff City Stadium, and the focus is likely again to be on the stands after widespread fan protests in recent weeks.
Many had felt the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool could have been his last game in charge but he was also in the dugout for Boxing Day's home loss to Southampton.
That game showed he had the full support of the fans, due to their vocal backing for the 41-year-old before, during and after the match but Mackay's tenure was brought to a close on Friday.
Things look a lot rosier for Sunderland however, following their first away league win of the season against Everton on Thursday.
Poyet's men have endured a miserable year, narrowly avoiding relegation last season under former boss Paolo Di Canio, but will hope for a repeat of their performance at Goodison Park.
They can end 2013 four games unbeaten and will fancy their chances against another club involved in the relegation shake-up.
Ki Sung-Yueng was the man who scored the all-important goal at Goodison Park and the Swansea City loanee will look to make it three goals in four Sunderland games on his return to Wales.
However, Ki's penalty at Goodison Park was Sunderland's first goal on the road since August and Poyet will no doubt remain concerned by his side's toothless attack away from home.
That said, the head-to-head record does make pleasant reading for those travelling from the north east, with Sunderland winning on their last two visits to Cardiff.
He has no fresh injury concerns as John O'Shea could make a return from his shoulder injury although defensive partner Wes Brown remains suspended.
Cardiff's only likely absentee is Craig Bellamy, who is suffering with a knee injury.
Top 3 Predictions
Cardiff City 1-2 Sunderland
- 13.46 %
Cardiff City 0-1 Sunderland
- 9.62 %
Cardiff City 0-2 Sunderland
- 8.65 %
|English Premier League (EPL) (EPL)||28-Dec-2013||Cardiff City 2 - Sunderland 2|
|19-Apr-2014||Cardiff City 1 - Stoke 1||EPL|
|12-Apr-2014||Southampton 0 - Cardiff City 1||EPL|
|05-Apr-2014||Cardiff City 0 - Crystal Palace 3||EPL|
|29-Mar-2014||West Bromwich 3 - Cardiff City 3||EPL|
|22-Mar-2014||Cardiff City 3 - Liverpool 6||EPL|
|28||Kevin Theophile Catherine||Defender|
|17||Aron Einar Gunnarsson||Midfielder|
|22||El Hadji Ba||Midfielder|